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Meet the team


  • Bernadette O'Malley
  • Donncha O Treasaigh
  • Fiona Steed
  • Jennifer.McMahon ‎
  • Maura‎ Fitzgerald
  • Misrah.Mohamed
  • Nicola.Kelly
  • Roisin Cahalan
  • Siobhan‎ Egan
  • Verity Hayes
  • Mary Flahive

What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

The JHSA, a subsection of the Health Sciences Academy, has succeeded in bringing together a network of clinicians, academics, researchers and educators from across the region who are passionate about supporting good health practices in young people and stimulating an interest in a healthcare career. This group has identified initiatives to build on these relationships including:

  1. Early Careers days: virtual interactive sessions for school students with health professionals, university students, academics and patients providing information on health  as a career,
  2. Health Promotion and Leadership: through virtual cafés and advisory groups, young people can identify health promotion priorities and delivery strategies, implementing impactful projects in their schools,
  3. Healthy Conversations:  students pair with older persons, or those with a chronic illness, possibly socially isolated, in mutually beneficial educational projects.

Feedback from teachers and students has endorsed this vision and will lead to increasing opportunities for collaboration in the short- to long-term.

What does your project aim to achieve?

The Junior HSA aims to develop and deliver a programme based on the themes of

1.       health as a career,

2.       health promotion, and

3.       leadership,

with students and teachers in primary and secondary schools in the Mid-West of Ireland by October 2023. The principles of equality and diversity underpin the programme, supporting access and opportunity for all.

The short-term objectives are to:

  • provide insight into daily working life of healthcare professionals in acute and community services,
  • provide information on University courses and alternative routes,
  • share students’ University experience,
  • develop appreciation and communication skills through engagement with older & people with chronic illness,
  • implement a health promotion project in their schools,
  • support leadership skills development health promotion projects.

In the longer term, students will:

  • be positioned to make more informed choices regarding career opportunities,
  • have greater options for health choices,
  • have a greater appreciation of the impact of illness,
  • have enhanced communication and leadership skills.

How will the project be delivered?

Year One:

Focusing on secondary school students in transition year, a steering committee with key stakeholders and an advisory group comprising students and teachers have been established.

With logic modelling, immediate, medium- and long-term outcome measures were identified including student numbers, evaluations, teacher ratings, CAO applications (by gender).

Strategically aligned, the project involves three work streams:

1.       Early careers:

  • Career in health
  • Live virtual two-day programme from clinical settings and Q&A
  • Available after on
  • Research ethics application to evaluate its impact.

2.       Health Promotion & Leadership:

  • Form health promotion project group
  • Apply for ethical approval and develop content
  • Students lead a health promotion project
  • Students creatively share learning
  • Evaluation, including peer, to measure student knowledge and skill development.

3.       Healthy Conversations:

  • Form project group
  • Refine scope

Year Two:

  • In-depth health career information; develop Business in Health strand.
  • Carry out ‘Health Conversations’ project.

Year Three: Develop programme for primary school students addressing the themes.

How is your project going to share learning?

The project is an excellent example of successful collaboration, networking and applying the principles of public and patient involvement. We identified an immediate problem – student career events attending clinical and university sites are not possible due to Covid-19; and an opportunity to address this. Other  possibilities have followed on from this.

We utilise key components of successful quality improvement projects:

  • Stakeholder mapping and engagement
  • Aim statements
  • Outcome measurement
  • Communication planning
  • Plan-do-study-act cycles of change during the project’s development
  • Building relationships to implement change
  • Shared learning between partners
  • Sustainability and spread

We will share our learning internally and externally as follows:

  • Partner organisation communication channels, internal and external, including social media, newsletters, Grand Rounds, quality improvement fora, teacher and student events
  • Local and national media
  • Publications in-house and in relevant journals, both health and education
  • RTE Brainstorm- national coverage to a broad population
  • Submissions to relevant conferences including Q Conferences

How you can contribute

  • Expert: advice from others who have developed and delivered such programmes previously
  • Expert: advice on how best to engage with teenagers
  • Networker: link up other similar ideas
  • Networker: link with others who could add value to project
  • Critical friend: highlight what works and what could be improved
  • Critical friend: offer alternative perspectives to strengthen programme
  • Fixer: resources that may be useful
  • Fixer: expertise in technology and promotion
  • Promotor: Share learning with others
  • Promotor: Social media with teen focus

Plan timeline

23 Oct 2020 Hold brainstorming events with teachers & students about ‘Early Careers’ content
11 Nov 2020 Schedule recordings with staff & University students for 'Early Careers' project
11 Jan 2021 Confirm Masters of Ceremonies for 'Early Careers' event
22 Jan 2021 Notify schools of upcoming 'Early Careers' programme
2 Mar 2021 Host 'Early Careers' event, both pre-recorded and live elements
12 Mar 2021 Form working group to develop 'Health Promotion' project
26 Mar 2021 Undertake evaluation of 'Early Careers' event
2 Apr 2021 Release 'Early Careers' content on Health Sciences Academy website
9 Apr 2021 Agree topic and format for 'Health Promotion' project
16 Apr 2021 Apply for research ethics for 'Health Promotion' projects
28 May 2021 Develop resource packs for 'Health Promotion' project
16 Jul 2021 Order promotional material and 'swag bags' for 'Health Promotion' project
6 Sep 2021 Establish advisory group comprising for Phase 2 'Early Careers'
17 Sep 2021 Roll-out plan for secondary schools around 'Health Promotion'
30 Sep 2021 Form working group for 'Healthy Conversations' project
4 Oct 2021 Scope and develop 'Business in Health' early careers information
15 Oct 2021 Virtual cafes with 5th & 6th year students for Phase 2 content
29 Oct 2021 Students to host 'Health Promotion' event with social media promotion
29 Oct 2021 Undertake evaluation of 'Health Promotion' project
30 Oct 2021 Students present on 'Health Promotion' event via creative media
1 Nov 2021 Commence content collation for Phase 2- in-depth career information and insight
5 Nov 2021 Upgrade pre-recorded content for 'Early Careers' to 3D simulation model
26 Nov 2021 Agree format and pilot site of 'Healthy Conversations' project
26 Nov 2021 Apply for ethics for 'Healthy Conversations' project
26 Nov 2021 Engage patients in 'Early Careers' project
10 Dec 2021 Promote Phase 2 'Early Careers' content
17 Dec 2021 Apply for research ethics for 'Healthy Conversations' project
28 Jan 2022 Review and further develop Year 2 of 'Health Promotion' project
31 Mar 2022 Deliver Phase 1 & Phase 2 'Early Careers' content
15 Apr 2022 Students in TY undertake pilot 'Healthy Conversations' project
29 Apr 2022 Students & public participants share reflections & learning from 'Healthy Conversations'
29 Apr 2022 Undertake evaluation of 'Healthy Conversations'
13 May 2022 Develop working group for Phase 3 'Early Careers' with primary schools
10 Jun 2022 Hold brainstorming events with primary school teachers and students
16 Sep 2022 Further develop and roll-out 'Healthy Conversations' project in Year 3
28 Oct 2022 Create interactive content for 'Early Careers' for primary schools
10 Mar 2023 Apply for research ethics to evaluate Phase 3 'Early Careers'
7 Apr 2023 Deliver Phase 3 'Early Careers' to primary schools

Project updates

  • 1 Oct 2021

    There are three projects being funded through Q Exchange, affording a really unique opportunity to collaborate and develop projects with health and education partners in the Mid-West of Ireland. We have really strong engagement from a variety of health and education partners, students and a media company, which has enabled the projects to progress and develop.

    Primary School- Health Promotion and Leadership


    • COVID restriction in Ireland had a significant impact on the pace of our project up to April 2021 as the schools were closed from December until April.
    • School holidays impacted on the progress of our project over the summer months as our key stakeholders- pupil and teachers- were on holidays.


    • Significant success was the involvement of a retired primary school Principal in the project team, who is well respected and highly connected.
    • Focus groups with teachers just before the summer holidays was instrumental in guiding the primary school audience, potential health promotion topics and mode of delivery.

    Transition Year (Secondary school) –Health Promotion and Leadership through Science


    • COVID restriction in Ireland had a significant impact on the pace of our project up to April 2021 as the schools were closed form December until April.
    • School holidays from end May-end August also impacted the pace of progress of the project as our key stakeholders- students and teachers- were on holidays.


    • Focus groups with teachers and students in May were hugely informative as to the core topics that students and teachers identified as areas of need and interest (resilience, youth mental health and research literacy), and informed the membership of the project team
    • Schools involved are diverse- we have recruited schools that represent city, country, DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools: to help children and young people who are at risk of or who are experiencing educational disadvantage), non-DEIS, single-sex and co-ed schools.
    • Teachers and students are members of the project team, guiding and informing the direction of the project.

    Interactive 3D simulated clinical area

    • Informed by data from ‘Early Careers’ event held in March
    • Innovative solution to challenges faced by students who wish to observe and access a clinical space to inform their future career choice
    • Creating an interactive 3D virtual clinical space as a result of COVID and its impact on public access to clinical spaces

    Key learnings:

    • Stakeholder mapping and involvement has been critical to success to date
    • Participatory (PPI) approach has been very successful to date in securing buy-in and expert contribution to project development
    • Diversity of project team membership has brought together people who would not interact with each other ordinarily. These teams have facilitated knowledge exchange, relationship building, networking and innovative solutions to be developed.
    • Communication plan important at development and launch phase, and securing support of local Communications teams in advance has been very useful
    • The additional support offered through the Action Learning Sets and Evaluation SIG has been of huge benefit in considering and developing the evaluation plan and navigating challenges.

    Next steps:

    • Promotion of projects update on and Twitter @HealthSciAcadLK
    • Focus groups with students to inform content development and mode of delivery this month
    • Research ethics submission for evaluation component
    • Delivery of programmes and development of 3D simulated clinical area
    • Communications plan to share the outcomes, events and successes

    If anyone would like to get in touch to learn more about our work, please contact project lead


  1. Guest

    Jenna Collins 8 months, 3 weeks ago

    Hi Miriam, congrats on your successful project! It looks great. A colleague mentioned that Andrea had picked up the connection to the Health Foundation anchors work (thanks Andrea!). I'm the programme manager for that so very happy to have a chat and explore connections. There's some more info here, and the Health Foundation's report on anchor institutions is here or feel free to get in touch whenever suits you ( All the best, Jenna

    1. Hi Jenna

      Thankyou for your message. I'll drop you an email this week to explore further.

      Kind regards,


  2. Miriam,

    This is a great idea and I do hope that you take it forward. If you need any process visualizations done then please let me know as I'd love to help. Good luck with your idea.


  3. Hi, I really like the concept you have submitted here. You are suggesting something a little bit different and supporting the confidence, capability and capacity of the workforce of all our futures and you have ensured patients are  central to the project.  Do you see this having opportunities to support apprenticeships and young people with less academic foundations?  This links so strongly to the work already supported and in progress from The Health Foundation around Anchor institutions and the role health and care organisations play in our communities.  I have no direct links to your "ask" but am happy to help from a QI perspective if you need anything.

    1. Thanks Andrea, I really value your feedback - I would love to take you up on your offer!

      Interestingly, this week while we were engaging with teachers and students, they expressed their interest in access to courses that have very high point requirements, and alternative routes to these. We are going to now incorporate aspects of this into our 'Early Careers' programme. I am curious about The Health Foundation and Anchor institutions- can you point me in the direction of where I can learn more about this? Thanks again, Miriam

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