Fiachra Nolan

Fiachra Nolan

Fiachra Nolan

Graduate of the MSc Medical Science

Can you tell us your name, job title and the course you studied at ATU?

Fiachra Nolan- Medical Scientist Biochemistry/ Near Patient Testing

MSc Medical Science (Specialised in Advanced Clinical Chemistry)

Can you share your career path to date?

I started the undergrad BSc in Medical Science in GMIT in September 2017. From there in my 3rd year of study, I began a 26-week placement in Mayo University Hospital in November 2019, during which I experience working in a clinical laboratory while COVID-19 struck. From there I returned to GMIT, for a taste of the world of scientific research for my final year project with the Pancreatic Cancer Research Group. I then finished my undergraduate studies in May 2021 and began working in the Blackrock Health Galway Clinic in June 2021. In the Galway Clinic I work primarily within the Biochemistry and Near Patient Testing departments.

What does your current role involve?

In my current role I am involved in numerous jobs and projects throughout the laboratory and hospital.

For the Near Patient Testing department my role involves the routine management of Near Patient Testing devices and their consumables, which are used in clinical areas such as Theatre and ICU. At present this includes blood gas analysers, glucometers, creatinine meters and point of care coagulation devices. My role also involves the training of clinical staff in the use of these devices before they perform patients testing, this ensures a safe patient environment with correctly trained staff to provide accurate results.

I am also involved in Intraoperative Parathyroid Hormone measurement, which also falls within the Near Patient Testing department. This is a service provided by the laboratory where a Medical Scientist measures the patient plasma parathyroid hormone concentration during surgery, which offers guidance to the surgeon throughout the case.

Within the biochemistry laboratory my role is largely the analysis of patient samples for the entire hospital. But further to this I am involved in the departments quality management system to verify and validate new assays/ analysers, monitor laboratory performance through key performance indicators, internal quality control and external quality assurance programmes.

The Galway Clinic operates a multidisciplinary laboratory, where I have also been trained in Haematology, Blood Transfusion and Microbiology to partake in the laboratory On-Call rota.

What motivated you to start studying?

My motivation to study comes from my desire to further my knowledge in my career field, along with the opportunity to undertake and present a research project within my workplace. This allows me to show the excellent work and initiatives being undertaken by my employer.

Further to this my undertaking the MSc allows a guided method of fulfilling the CPD requirements for CORU, while also meeting the requirements for promotional positions upon graduation.

Why did you choose this course from ATU?

I chose this course because of the blended learning, consists of a mix of pre-recorded lectures and some live tutorial sessions, which fits around the busy work life schedule of a Medical Scientist.

This course allows provides lots of academic freedom to study within your own areas of interest for most assignments within modules, which for me created an overall enjoyable experience.

How did you find the process of studying online? What elements did you find helpful? Were there elements you found challenging?

I enjoyed studying online because it gave the freedom to study in my own time and saved time which could have been spent travelling to the college.

How did you balance work and study?

The Galway Clinic were extremely accommodating allowing time for me to complete my studies and work around any deadlines which approached. Along with this lecturers were also very accommodating to schedule classes at times which suited students, who they know are working full-time.

In terms of your employer, were they supportive of your decision to study? Were there elements of the course that were particularly relevant to your current employer?

My employer was highly supportive of my studies and encouraged me throughout. The Galway Clinic allowed me time and resources to complete the Research project.

This course is full of modules that are relevant to my workplace, such as Quality Management, Advanced Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Laboratory & Project management. These modules allow me to fulfil my role within the Galway Clinic with an enhanced level of knowledge relevant to my duties.

What advice would you have for anyone considering studying?

My advice for someone considering studying would be to do your course research and try pick the course that suits you best, in terms of work commitments and life balance along with study.

For me balance is key to allowing studying to be enjoyable without creating a stressful environment by taking on too much or not being able to focus.

For me this course fulfilled those criteria due to the content being delivered online, with minimal exams and more continuous assessment across modules, allowing assignments to be completed at times that suited me rather than having large numbers of exams.

In what way has studying online with ATU benefitted your career?

Studying online with ATU has given me the first step towards being qualified for promotional roles within clinical laboratories, such as Senior and Specialist Medical Scientist, along with the in-depth subject knowledge which is required to fulfil them.

Further to this studying this course with ATU has given me skills in the area of project management and goal setting in order to complete projects within clinical laboratories and the quality systems that go along with them.

Did you find that the elements you were studying had practical relevance in your day-to-day role?

Guest lecturers were often invited to present to the class during modules and they presented real world cases with current clinical laboratory applications. These guest lectures provided expert insights into the day-to-day role of Medical Scientists which can then be applied to my role.

What were the key skills you took away from your time studying at ATU?

  • Project Management
  • Goal Setting
  • Advanced Clinical Chemistry


Find out more about the MSc in Medical Science