Meet Paul Gallagher, he is based in the Republic of Ireland and is an FNF Scholar. Paul, who is the Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery (CDONM) with one of six acute hospital groups tells us about his experience of undertaking a Scholarship, and why he would do it again in a heartbeat.… 


Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher
Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery

“My name is Paul Gallagher and I am based in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). I am Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery (CDONM) with one of six acute hospital groups. My clinical background was primarily focused on the intensive care setting where I worked for over ten years. I also worked as a critical care nurse in North America, for four years, and I was based at the Mount Sinai Medical Centre, New York. After I returned to Ireland, I completed an MBA and I also availed of opportunities to progress my career by taking up nursing management opportunities in the acute hospital setting. I was Director of Nursing at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, for 12 years. St James’s is the largest adult teaching hospital in the ROI. During this time, I was appointed by the Minister for Health to the Board of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (the Irish regulator) where I was immediately elected President by my fellow Board members.

I commenced in my current role as CDONM role for over 4 years, with the Ireland East Hospital Group – a post that I am relishing.

I initially heard about the FNF Scholarship through a very good friend and colleague, Mary Brosnan (Director of Nursing & Midwifery, National Maternity Hospital, Dublin). Mary was one of the first senior nursing and midwifery leaders from the ROI to participate in the FNF Senior Leaders Scholarship programme. Mary shared her scholarship experience with me, and I knew that this programme was something I would really be interested in participating in. I appreciated the benefits of the programme through previous participants as the focus was on expanding leadership potential.

The Scholarship provided a great deal of opportunity for personal and professional development and I believe the programme demonstrates that, irrespective of where you are in your career, there will always be opportunities for continuous improvement, irrespective of your role and grade. The FNF programmes bring a level of prestige and the FNF brand continues to grow internationally. I was aware that the Scholarship would introduce me to other networks that I would not have been exposed to previously, in particular with UK colleagues. One of the great things about the Scholarship was that we created an important support network during the program. 

My fellow scholars and I faced a significant challenge during the programme, as we had to undertake most of our course work on-line, due to the covid pandemic. Not unlike many of you, we made the most of the virtual-learning experience in the absence of face-to-face engagement!

There were three main areas of the scholarship that I really enjoyed.

  • One was the networking opportunity with my Senior Leaders Scholars group. The value of network is so important, and I would like to emphasise the importance of using your respective networks to assist you in your work.
  • The second part of the scholarship that I found to be extremely helpful was the mentorship experience. I was fortunate to have been allocated a mentor who had completed the Senior Leaders Scholarship and who understood the role of nursing and midwifery leadership at a senior level.
  • Thirdly, the project I undertook was aligned with my work. Advanced Practice is an area that I have a strong interest in developing and the focus for my project related to integration of the Advanced Practitioner in the acute hospital setting. I had previously established a research network with the School of Nursing & Midwifery at University College Dublin (the academic partner for my hospital group). This partnership was instrumental in achieving success of our project and I am very pleased to say that we published our work in the Journal of Nursing Management. This research has enabled further research partnerships between Ireland and Australia and the next phase of our work will be ready for publication in Q4.

The Scholarship has helped me focus on the importance of strategic positioning of senior nursing and midwifery leadership in the Irish health service. We are preparing for radical change in the ROI as the delivery model for healthcare is undergoing significant reform. The development of Regional Health Authorities is posing both opportunities and challenges to senior leaders. However, as a senior nursing and midwifery leader, it is my responsibility to ensure that the professions of nursing and midwifery will be present at the RHA Executive table, representing the needs of patients, service users and staff. I believe the FNF scholarship has enabled me to articulate where we need to be from a corporate perspective.   

If I had to choose one word to sum up the Scholarship programme, the word ‘empowering’ springs to mind. I have been given an opportunity to participate in this important and prestigious leadership programme, with like-minded colleagues from across the UK and Ireland. It has empowered me to continue my journey of personal and professional development and I would do the scholarship programme again in a heartbeat!”