Faced with significant national shortages of healthcare workers across all professionals, the College is placing a strong focus on meeting future staff demands. In developing and implementing new healthcare programmes, we are informed by the emerging needs of our community. We recognise the importance of developing ‘rural pipeline’ programmes that are specifically structured to encourage future healthcare careers in underserviced parts of our regions. Moreover, we know that optimal care is delivered by effective healthcare teams, emphasising the need for inter-professional learning curricula and environments. We have initiated a planning phase in exploring new programmes in the areas of emerging need, and over the lifespan of this Strategy, we plan to establish at least seven new graduate and undergraduate programmes. As of December 2022, Expressions of Interest have been submitted to the Higher Education Authority indicating our ambition to introduce graduate entry Nursing, Graduate-entry Medicine and undergraduate Pharmacy.
Our education strategy will embrace other fundamental shifts in health, particularly the transformative role of medical technologies, digital health and artificial intelligence, where we will leverage our educational agenda with existing areas of research strength, providing an area of distinctiveness and identity for the College. In the area of Medical Technologies and Advanced Cellular Therapies, for example, we are global leaders in research and innovation, providing an ideal platform to develop cutting-edge clinical training programmes. We recognise the need to prepare our students for success, through future-proofed curricula, innovative approaches to teaching (including our recently launched Clinical Simulation and Inter-professional Education Facility) and empowering them with the skills required for life-long learning. Students are the lifeblood of our college, our ambassadors, our future colleagues and the future providers of healthcare in our communities.
We are fortunate to have outstanding partners in the healthcare system, particularly Saolta university healthcare group which overlaps our academic structure, and Community and Primary Care, General Practice and with private healthcare providers. Delivering effective solutions to our challenges in healthcare staffing will require a cohesive and concerted partnership of university and healthcare partners. We also recognise the essential role of our community in mapping our future direction, and our mandate to ensure patient and public involvement is integral to all of our activities.
Together, we are working to provide tangible and valuable solutions that will benefit society, and the regional and national healthcare service.