Celebrating International Nurses Day: A journey of dedication and compassion with nurse Louise Hanna

Sunday, May 12, 2024

As International Nurses Day approaches on 12 May, Atlantic Technological University (ATU) takes a moment to celebrate the invaluable contributions of nurses worldwide. 

Among them is ATU Alumna, Louise Hanna, from Laghey, Co. Donegal, a registered nurse in Intellectual Disability in Sligo/Leitrim, whose journey is an example of the dedication and compassion inherent in the nursing profession.  

Reflecting on her inspiration to pursue nursing, particularly focusing on intellectual disability, Louise says, "It’s hard to pinpoint when and where my interest in nursing came from. It was just always there. When I thought about career choices my natural tendency was towards the health and social sciences. I have a distinct memory as a child playing in a park and seeing a disabled child playing alone with her Mum. It bothered me even then that this child was on the outskirts. I wanted to invite her to join us but was too shy to do so. The seed of intellectual disability nursing was maybe sown then, even though I wasn’t aware that such a discipline of nursing existed."

Louise's journey began with her undergraduate studies at ATU St Angelas Sligo, where she completed the BSc Intellectual Disability Nursing Programme in 2003. She reminisces about her time as a student, stating, "Studying is challenging. But then anything worthwhile is challenging."  

After graduation, Louise embarked on a fulfilling career, initially working with HSE Cregg Services in Sligo. Reflecting on her experiences, she says she developed a specific interest in dementia and palliative care, which became a cornerstone of her practice. Over the years, she transitioned to Community Disability Services in Donegal, where she embraced a more community-focused role, driven by her passion for supporting individuals to live life to the fullest. 

In her current role as a Clinical Placement Coordinator for HSE Disability Services, Louise's daily routine is diverse and dynamic with each day presenting new challenges.  From developing placement sites to overseeing student assessments, she plays a pivotal role in guiding the next generation of nurses. 

Despite the challenges, Louise finds immense reward in her work, stating, “Intellectual Disability nursing is a wonderful career. It is such a privileged position. I have supported the most vulnerable of people in society and the strongest most resilient people I will ever meet. Intellectual disability nursing is personal. It is getting to know a person, their wishes, their dreams, their goals, their challenges and assisting them to exert their rights and overcome the barriers society have laid in their path to equality, fulfilment and beyond.  The reward is knowing the difference you make every single day in the life of a person you are supporting. 

The course of my career has brought me great job satisfaction. More than that I have had the greatest laughs, met wonderful people, felt seen, felt valued and have never regretted this career choice." 
Charlene Bogan, an ATU graduate, has transitioned from a successful career in women's health to become an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Health Care at ATU.  

“Several of my friends worked in the nursing profession and they encouraged me to follow in their footsteps. I had always been drawn to the idea of helping others and being there for people in their time of need. Nursing seemed like the perfect way to fulfil this desire”. 

With experience in gynaecology nursing and as a candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Women’s Health, Charlene turned her attention to training nurses.  She now focuses on educating and inspiring the next generation of healthcare professionals, blending her passion for nursing with academia, “Embarking on my career as an Assistant Lecturer marks an exciting new chapter filled with opportunities for growth and learning. I have been fortunate to continue to be surrounded by supportive colleagues from both the ATU and our clinical partners in LUH. This incredibly rewarding career offers numerous opportunities to make a positive impact on the next generation of nurses as they embark on their educational journey. This year, I have witnessed the growth and development of students, both academically and professionally which is very rewarding. It is immensely satisfying to know that I am helping them on their path to becoming competent and compassionate nurses.” 
Charlene has advice for those considering a career in nursing, “To anyone considering a career in nursing I would say go for it. Nursing is a rewarding profession that offers endless opportunities for growth and professional development. Your work will make a difference in the lives of both you patients and their families. Embrace the privilege becoming a nurse, and never underestimate the positive impact that you will have on others.” 

To mark International Nurses Day, ATU and Health Service partners hosted events in, Mayo and Sligo University Hospitals on Friday 10 May. Meanwhile ATU and NPD North-West partners in General, ID and MH Nursing partners hosted a symposium event on ATU Donegal Letterkenny campus on Wednesday 8 May.  These events were an opportunity to show appreciation to the work and dedication of nurses in Ireland and around the world.   

If you are interested in a career in nursing, ATU offers courses in General Nursing, Mental Health Nursing and Intellectual Disability across campuses in Mayo, Donegal & St Angelas in Sligo.



Aidan Haughey 
ATU Communications Manager /
Bainisteoir Cumarsáide OTA
Ollscoil Teicneolaíochta an Atlantaigh (OTA), Éire
Atlantic Technological University (ATU), Ireland       
Tel: +353 86 086 6913