Theresa Lowry-Lehnen, the full-time nurse and an associate lecturer at Institute of Technology Carlow, is one of just three to be shortlisted for Practice Nurse of the Year at the GP Buddy National Awards, which takes place this Friday (September 21) at the Shelbourne Hotel.
The Practice Nurse of the Year award is presented to a practice nurse who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her general practice or community.
A Carlow native and past pupil of St Leo’s College, Theresa has over 30 years’ experience in clinical nursing practice, including educational, teaching and lecturing roles.
She has a PhD, published a number of health-related articles and books and is a registered teacher with the Teaching Council of Ireland.
Having qualified as a registered general nurse with a post-graduate in coronary care nursing at the Mater Hospital Dublin in the 1980s, Theresa worked in general medical, surgical, coronary care and intensive care units at home and abroad for over 15 years.
She later moved to the primary care sector and trained and specialised in general practice nursing at Surrey University.
She also qualified as a teacher at St Mary’s Teacher Training University College, London, where she received a commendation for her teaching practice.
She worked for a number of years as a triage, clinical and community intervention team nurse at Caredoc, Carlow, before commencing her nursing post at Institute of Technology Carlow.
She has been working as an associate lecturer in the Faculty of Life Long Learning at Institute of Technology Carlow since 2008, and as the full-time college nurse since 2015.
She is employed by Carlow doctors John Conway and Jonathan Jacob to manage the College Medical Centre, and was nominated for the award by her colleague Dr Eimear Hally, the college doctor and GP at Tyndall Clinic, Carlow.
As the third-largest of 14 Institutes of Technology in the country, Carlow IT boasts more than 8,300 learners.
The medical centre at the Carlow campus is a purpose-built, modern health centre with a full-time nurse and visiting doctors to cater for the medical needs of its students, including Erasmus and international students.
Theresa runs a busy daily nurse-led ‘walk-in’ medical service at the Institute’s medical centre. In the last academic year, from September to May, there were 4,066 appointments and visits with the nurse.
Her work includes minor illness, minor injury and chronic disease management, wound care, screenings, phlebotomy and medication management to more complex sports injuries, and a range of medical emergencies and call-outs on campus as they occur.
Theresa was a valued member of the Institute team that recently received a national Health and Wellbeing Award by Public Sector magazine for its initiative on becoming a ‘smokeless campus’.
The initiative is being extended to the Wexford campus next month.
“There is tremendous work being carried out by staff in third-level student health centres and student service departments all around the country.
"My colleagues at Institute of Technology Carlow, and at the Irish Student Health Association (ISHA), will agree that working with students on a daily basis is a privilege.
"Providing affordable and accessible services, especially for those living away from home, is important.
"Looking after the health and welfare of students is not only an important part of college life, it also plays a vital role in promoting the overall health and wellbeing of our future workforce and society”, Theresa said.
“I started my nursing career back in 1984 at the Mater Hospital and have taken every opportunity over the years to upskill and enhance my clinical knowledge and practice.
"I really enjoy working in primary care, and especially in the third-level student health sector, which requires a high level of autonomy, clinical knowledge, multi-tasking, problem-solving and decision making skills.
"I am delighted to be shortlisted for Practice Nurse of the Year 2018," she added.
The annual GPBuddy.ie National GP Awards recognise excellence, innovation and collaboration amongst GPs, hospitals and healthcare professionals all over Ireland.
This year, nominations were received from all over the country and across 11 categories, from both healthcare professionals and patients.