The last few years have been tough for student nurses in Ireland. Decreasing staff levels on wards has meant that workloads have increased even for supernumerary students (1st to 3rd students who are unpaid and supported by a qualified staff nurse at all times). In addition to this the government has cut the pay rate of a 4th year intern student from 80% of a qualified staff nurse initially to 60% and now to 50%. This means that a rostered 4th year intern who has the case load of a qualified nurse and is responsible for their care and care plans now earns €6.49 an hour for the duration of his/her internship. This is significantly lower than even minimum wage and seems very unfair when the workload that is required is taken into consideration. And then there’s the issue of the graduate scheme which sees a newly QUALIFIED nurse paid 85% of that of previously qualified nurses. Basically they will carry out the exact same workload for 15% less in year one. But that is a matter for another conversation. This pay rate cut is a huge topic of conversation amongst nursing students in Ireland. They see it as hugely demoralising, find it hard to motivate themselves at times and at worst feel hugely undervalued. Can something be done about this situation though or are nursing students held to ransom in order to receive their qualification? On Thursday next, March 6th students from all over the country intend on making their voices heard. A Union of Students of Ireland led protest will take place at 2pm from O’Connell Street in Dublin to the HSE. A busload of students from the University of Limerick accompanied by members of their student council will be in attendance and will be sure to make their voices heard on behalf of all of their fellow nursing and midwifery students in UL. There are at present approximately six spaces left on the bus and any student from the University of Limerick with a valid student card can join in. The Students of The Department of Nursing and Midwifery would like to thank both the Department and the Students Union for the support they have shown and would also like to take this opportunity to welcome any support that might be received over the coming days in the lead up to this protest.
By Peter Hanrahan