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Virgie Tierney, Ophthalmology Nurse Specialist and Staff Nurse, Outpatients Department, South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen


What motivated you to pursue a career at South West Acute Hospital?

“I worked in London and I came to Enniskillen to visit my sister and my then boyfriend and seen the hospital being built. I said to myself that will be a big hospital and I would not mind working in it. And yeah, I married a Fermanagh man, and this is home to me now!”

Could you share a significant challenge you’ve faced in your role and how you overcame it to provide quality healthcare services?

“I had to be on and off work few years back to fulfil my own personal goal. I have been lucky to have supportive managers when I needed time off. It seemed for a while nothing was happening but now it is all going ok.”

How do you believe your role contributes to the well-being and recovery of patients within our community?

“I run a nurse-led clinic for cataract pre-assessment and it is a service that I am glad to provide to our local community. Patients do not need to travel as far as Magherafelt for it.”

Can you highlight a particular patient interaction or medical achievement that you are particularly proud of, and why?

“Recently, I have been recognised as Band 6 for the job I do in the Ophthalmology Department. I have finished a short course in Queen’s University and used this education as a great baseline for the special role I play in the department. It is a great achievement at this stage and I can do more in my career development in the future.”

How do you ensure the delivery of compassionate and effective care in your specific healthcare discipline?

“As a nurse, it comes natural to be compassionate to patients. I get to know the patients before they come to my clinic by reading their previous clinic appointments. With that, I can provide individualised care and more effective care for the patients.”

What aspect of your work do you find most rewarding, and how does it resonate with your personal values and mission?

“As an Outpatients Department (OPD) nurse, I have the opportunity to follow up patients in their treatment plans. It is rewarding to see patients come back for their review appointment feeling and doing better, and they share their feelings to me when I deal with them. Also, I run a Nurse-Led clinic for cataract pre-assessment. Most of my patients are elderly and they are the most grateful patients one can have. It is so rewarding to hear them appreciate my knowledge and skills in my role.”

How do you manage the demands of your job, and what strategies do you employ to ensure exceptional healthcare service delivery?

“I seek training and more education to provide the best care to the patients. Appraisals and audits are effective ways to continuously improve the service, and it gives me more confidence and efficiency that I do my job well.”

Have there been any mentors or colleagues who have significantly influenced your practice, and in what way?

“Miss Carole Cooke is a great mentor who supports me in all my endeavours in the Ophthalmology Department. Her knowledge and skills as a consultant is superb and she is always there to advise me when I am not sure. Also, Lea Goodwin is my colleague and friend who always has this energy and enthusiasm in her job in OPD. She has influenced me in what I do now. She gives me ‘wee positive push’ to do greater things in the department. She was recognised for her special role in the Gynae department and I have been recognised the same in the Ophthalmology Department. I said that it is our ‘friendship goal’ to go up the ladder and we have each other to hold on to when the tide is rough.”

What are your aspirations for the future, and how do you envision the evolution of your role within South West Acute Hospital?

“I am very enthusiastic to bring more services in the Ophthalmology Department in SWAH. We have the facility, state-of-the-art machines and great staff that can bring more treatments and/or diagnostics to patients. It would make life a bit easier for the people in the southern sector of the Trust.”

How do you believe your efforts contribute to the overall excellence and advancement of healthcare services in our local community?

“I have done training and courses and continuously learning with my CPD. I am confident that I can do the job and more. I take responsibility to aspire to provide a high quality service to the patients.”