RCSI celebrates and honours graduates in virtual conferring ceremonies

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RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences today celebrated the conferring of over 1,200 candidates who received qualifications in nursing and midwifery and primary healthcare as well as postgraduate academic awards.

The ceremony, held virtually due to current COVID-19 guidelines in Ireland, included the first cohort of graduates from RCSI's Professional Diploma in Positive Health, run by the Centre for Positive Psychology and Health.

Professor Cathal Kelly, Vice Chancellor of RCSI, congratulated the primary healthcare and postgraduate award recipients, while also highlighting the significance of graduating in the current climate: "The COVID pandemic has created many challenges for our global healthcare systems and providers. From this global pandemic will emerge a new era of healthcare, which will call for great healthcare leadership to manage uncertainty effectively and implement change needed to navigate us through this particularly difficult time.

"As you graduate today, equipped with the tools, expertise and knowledge to continue on your healthcare management and leadership journeys, you will be challenged, but will have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and ability to be innovative in increasingly uncertain healthcare environments."

Addressing the conferring of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, RCSI President Professor Ronan O'Connell, said: "There never has been a more challenging time to enter the healthcare workforce. Nurses are the backbone of every health service. You care for the sick in a way that differs from other healthcare professions – that is the art of nursing. You also bring a qualitative and reflective perspective to the science of nursing that enriches your practice and educates your healthcare colleagues.

"I congratulate the School of Nursing and Midwifery on the extraordinary range and depth of postgraduate certificate and diploma courses available – every aspect of nursing is covered. I celebrate the achievements of our graduates today."

Two honorary doctorates were also presented as part of the ceremonies, to Ms Cindy Eckhert and Dr Joan Halifax. The university's highest accolade, RCSI honorary doctorates are awarded to exceptional people who have made a difference to the world through education, research or service.

Cindy Eckert is a self-made entrepreneur and vocal advocate for women. With a career in healthcare that has spanned over 25 years, Ms Eckert's enterprises include Sprout Pharmaceuticals, producer of the only FDA-approved pill for low libido in women, and the Pink Ceiling, established to improve access to capital for female-led start-ups.

Addressing the conferring of primary healthcare and postgraduate academic awards, Ms Eckert said: "RCSI Class of 2021, you're my kind of class. Not only for your passion for healthcare but for the fact that you were thrown a global-sized curve ball and are standing here, hopefully smiling, today. The constant in my life, personally and professionally, has been curveballs, and what I've come to realise over time is that the course of your life will be determined by the choices you make in the face of them. This is your superpower, Class of 2021. You figured this out earlier than most. This challenge you've faced has shaped an unbeatable strength: choice in the face of challenge."

Dr Joan Halifax is the Founder, Abbot and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center. A medical anthropologist, humanitarian and social activist, Dr Halifax has made significant contributions in the field of end of life care and in the provision of training for healthcare professionals involved in hospice work. Her teachings, based on Buddhist principles, help the dying, their families and their caregivers to face death with courage and compassion.

Receiving the honorary doctorate at the conferring of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Dr Halifax told the graduates: "You are the ones who will stay in touch with the very best in humanity, those who inspire you, the Nelson Mandelas, the Malalas, the Mary Robinsons of this world. And you also know that those who are sick, those who are gravely ill, have something so important to teach you as well. You are the ones who will actualise compassion in your service to others. You will bring it forward, you will amplify it, you will be nourished by it as nurses and as healthcare workers. And finally, as you move out into the world, I know you will give no fear. You will give love. You will give kindness. You will give compassion. You will give your best. The world needs it. The world needs you."

Watch the primary healthcare and postgraduate academic awards conferring:

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Watch the School of Nursing and Midwifery conferring:

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