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Spotlight on: Dr Odharna Ní Dhomhnalláin, Specialist Registrar

Spotlight on: Dr Odharna Ní Dhomhnalláin, Specialist Registrar

15 December 22
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Dr Odharna Ní Dhomhnalláin, a native of Ennistymon, Co Clare, was the inaugural recipient of the McGinty Scholarship for Female Physicians. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Odharna obtained a Medical Degree and an MSc in Biomedical Sciences, followed by an internship in University Hospital Limerick, as part of the inaugural cohort of Academic Track Interns. She subsequently undertook her Basic Specialist Training in Medicine in Galway University Hospital (GUH), and spent two years working as a medical registrar in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) in GUH while completing the MBA. 

The opportunity to pursue an MBA presented itself quite organically to me. During a corridor conversation with a consultant colleague, I was informed of an “amazing opportunity” which was, of course, that to undertake an MBA with the assistance of the McGinty Scholarship for Female Physicians. I had never considered undertaking an MBA prior to this, and in truth, was initially confused as to why I would be encouraged to pursue a Business Degree. But, upon doing some preliminary reading, and learning of the focus on leadership, management and innovation, the benefits to both myself and to the healthcare system became readily apparent, and I knew that it was an opportunity I would have to pursue. 

It was the McGinty Scholarship that enabled and empowered me to pursue the MBA. Not only did it make the endeavour more financially accessible, the true value-add came from the opportunity to engage with Dr McGinty herself and with the board of luminary female leaders that she has engaged as advisors for the scholarship recipients.   

The structure of the MBA programme encourages immediate application of learnings, with lecture blocks embedded in working weeks and assignments designed to draw upon personal and professional experience. While working in the AMU, this manifested with efforts to address challenges surrounding how patients and physicians interact with the unit, optimising staffing and the introduction of more ambulatory care pathways, with the assistance of departmental staff. In my current role, as Lead NCHD, I find myself often drawing upon the core business competencies and leadership skills when exploring and addressing challenges. 

Despite the predominance of female staff in healthcare settings, there remains a dearth of women in leadership positions.

I intend to continue practicing clinically and am currently on a training scheme to become a Medical Consultant. Additionally, I aspire to have a role in healthcare management, be that locally or nationally. Specifically, I find the Community-Hospital interface fascinating and would love to play a role in optimising that interface and creating a cohesive national healthcare system that best serves patients, community healthcare providers and hospital staff alike.  

Despite the predominance of female staff in healthcare settings, there remains a dearth of women in leadership positions. As physicians interacting with the healthcare system, we are often the first to encounter the challenges native to those systems. As such, equipped with the correct tools, I believe female physicians are best positioned to interrogate and redesign systems so as to best serve patients.  

I would encourage any aspiring healthcare leaders to consider the MBA. I truly believe that healthcare professionals are uniquely positioned to transform our healthcare system to better serve both our patients and the people that work within it, but often lack the tools required to best incite and sustain change. While it was an enormous undertaking, I would have no qualms about recommending the programme and am always happy to talk to potential applicants! 

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