Elena Pal

I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years. I started in emergency, anaesthesia and recovery and then, after getting my Diploma in Gerontological Nursing at RCSI, moved into caring for older people.

A few years back, as an assistant director of nursing, I was constantly challenged to work under regulations while optimising care and balancing the budget. How could I meet these needs while best looking after people? So, having already done two postgraduate courses at RCSI where I was very happy with the learning outcomes, I decided to sign up for the masters in healthcare management in 2020.

On the course, there is a real focus on implementing the learning in the workplace for the betterment on patient care. I started the course in 2020, just as the pandemic shut down in-person learning and everything moved online. As a nurse in a Dublin nursing home, I knew there were gaps in training for healthcare workers, especially where the staff were often multicultural and there could be some communication difficulties. These difficulties were worse in nursing homes when training was online, because the element of peer learning was much trickier. With COVID-19 rampant, I knew we needed to improve this.

So, using what I had learnt about leadership and operations on the RCSI programme, I decided to focus on implementing an onsite training programme in infection control and management at my workplace. I gave questionnaires to the staff and we realised the existing training was suboptimal, so I designed improvements and measured outcomes before and after my changes, finding that compliance with infection control did improve post-training.

The staff had greater awareness and knew more about how to protect themselves, their residents and families. They learned how to recognise signs and symptoms of infection and also how to coach new staff.

I’ve been able to use the skills I developed in RCSI in my new role, where I also work as infection control and prevention lead. I’m really grateful for my time at RCSI; every student is valued to reach their full potential, and beyond.

Learn more about RCSI’s MSc in Healthcare Management here.