Working Towards a Happy Result: Rebecca O’Callaghan

Name: Rebecca O’Callaghan

Age: 25

Lives: Ballincollig

Job title: Fertility nurse specialist at Waterstone Clinic, Cork.

Salary bracket: I’m very lucky in that I love what I do and it pays the bills.

Education background: I attended both primary and secondary schools locally in Ballincollig, and completed my Junior and Leaving Certificates there also. I went on to study a BSc (Hons) in General Nursing at University College Cork. My core hospital group, where I did most of my work placements, was Cork University Hospital.

Hobbies: My hobbies include going to the gym, socialising with friends, shopping, beauty and reading when I get the time.

Describe your job in five words: Challenging, interesting, satisfying, educational and rewarding.

Describe yourself in five words: Motivated, friendly, chatty, hard-working, and soft.

Personality needed for this kind of work? I think with all walks of nursing there is a specific type of personality needed to cater to the job. You need to be professional and vigilant, and constantly thinking about the next potential step for a patient. You have to not only be aware of the medical side of things, but the emotional side of things too when it comes to fertility. You need to be straight in the decisions you make, but caring and kind in how you make and deliver them. You also need good communication skills, not only with your patients, but also with your fellow colleagues for care to run smoothly. You need to love what you do.

How long are you doing this job? Two years.

How did you get this job? I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. When I completed my CAO in school, I included General Nursing in every county possible. Luckily, I achieved enough points to study here in Cork as I am a major home bird!

I began the four-year General Nursing course in University College Cork in September, 2010. For the first three years, study was divided between lectures and practicals in the college and work placements in all different hospitals and fields of nursing. This gives you a great insight early on into which area of nursing might suit you best. You get to experience working on both surgical and medical wards in various hospitals and the emergency department, theatre, intensive care and specialised areas too.

You also get the chance to experience midwifery, psychiatric nursing, intellectual disability and public health nursing. My personal interests mainly revolved around emergency nursing, and surgical/theatre nursing. I worked on an orthopaedic and plastics surgical ward in Cork University Hospital prior to coming to Waterstone Clinic — two very different areas!

When I heard about a job going in the fertility field, the whole aspect really appealed to me and, being a spontaneous person, I went for it and was lucky enough to get it. I’ve loved every minute there so far. It shows that even if you think you have found the job for you, there are many other possible opportunities out there too.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? Some nurses in Waterstone Clinic are qualified in Midwifery, some General Nursing, and others in both.

Describe a day at workYour day can start at different times, depending on what you are rostered for that day. We run a full theatre and recovery for patients having fertility procedures such as egg collections, embryo transfers, IUIs, aspirations, and testicular biopsies as part of fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation, intrauterine insemination, ovulation induction, frozen embryo transfer cycles, donor egg cycles, etc.

Every day, one or two doctors hold a clinic for patients to come in to meet them, whether it be for a first consultation or review consultation, and a nurse will always assist a doctor with these.

We have a full-time nurse in the office taking patients’ calls and queries all day. We also have nurses doing their own consultations with patients, taking bloods, and doing drug demonstrations.

Every day, there are nurses also seeing people through scan appointments. We also have nurses working in more specialised fields, such as egg donation, sperm donation and PGD.

How many hours do you work a week? 40.

What do you wear to work? A comfy pair of navy scrubs.

Is your industry male or female dominated? There are more females than males staff wise. Our nursing, reception and admin teams are mainly female. However, we do have three male fertility consultants, two male embryologists and one male andrologist.

Does this affect you in any particular way? Not at all. The whole team is amazing.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: I think any job in nursing will always have some level of stress attached, especially when so much of other people’s lives depend on you. There are some days that can hit a 10 and others that are more relaxed. I think once you love what you’re doing, it’s all worth it.

Do you work with others or on your own? I work within a large group of people made up of lots of different teams and each person is as important as the next.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? When I’m 65! A long way to go yet.

Best bits: Knowing that every day you go to work, you get to help somebody. Also, receiving photos of beautiful babies a few months down the line from when patients have attended the clinic is an amazing feeling.

Worst bits: Unfortunately, fertility treatment does not hold 100% success rates so seeing people struggle is heart-wrenching.

Advice to those who want your job? Prepare to work hard. However, the happy endings will make it worth it.

Waterstone Clinic is Ireland’s largest independent fertility specialists and has a state-of- the- art national centre of excellence at Lotamore House in Cork.