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‘Education is the best medicine’

04 June 2020
WEB Ailsing and Danielle

Sisters become nurses after returning to education at NWRC

Two Donegal sisters who became full-time nurses after studying the Access course at North West Regional College (NWRC), are encouraging local people who may not have completed their education when they were younger, to consider returning to it now.
Aisling Quinn and Danielle Harkin from Carndonagh, both completed the Adult Learning University Access Diploma in Combined Studies at NWRC, which provides students who have been out of education, a pathway to Higher Education and University study.
Aisling now works as a nurse at Buncrana Community Hospital, while younger sister Danielle is working overseas as a Cath Lab nurse in Australia.
NWRC is currently accepting applications for the new college semester in September 2020, and both sisters, who went on to study Nursing Degrees at the University of Ulster at Magee, said it was the perfect stepping stone to help them return to education after a gap of several years, and go on to their dream careers.
Mum of 3 Aisling, who now lives in Malin, said she always wanted to be a nurse. She explained: “After school I did not feel ready to start my nursing journey and went on to do a pre-nursing course, but I always knew I would return one day. As a mature student I researched courses to help me gain entry, and the Access Diploma in Combined Studies in NWRC kept popping up. After not studying for 10 years it was the perfect course to get me back into learning mode and prepare me for the Degree course I wished to pursue.
“The lecturers were very hands-on, helping in every way they could to ensure you performed to the best of your ability. The constructive feedback from peers and lecturers was particularly helpful. The course content allowed me to develop new skills and encouraged me to become more confident in myself academically.
“Before completing the course I enrolled in the BSc Hons Nursing degree. One of the lecturers helped me through this process and ensured all relevant information was included in my application before being sent. I passed the interview and commenced the course in 2013. In December 2016 I graduated with a 2’1 honours degree.
“I worked in Altnagelvin Hospital but last year moved closer to home and got a post in Buncrana Community Hospital. I am thankful for the Diploma as it enabled me to pursue a career that I love. I would highly recommend this course to anyone seeking to further their education whatever path they are planning to take.”

Little sister Danielle, who completed the Access Course a year before Aisling, is now working in Australia as a nurse. She said: “I decided to do the course as I thought it would be the perfect stepping stone to get into the nursing degree I desired. I did not get enough points from my Leaving Certificate so this was another path available that enabled me access. “The course was very good and I would highly recommend to others looking to pursue their career in Nursing or further their education in any way. As a mature student I found the course eased you back into doing assignments and got your brain working academically again. The tutors were very helpful and really wanted you to do your best. “I got into Magee nursing the same year I finished the access course. I would totally recommend this course to others and I have already recommended it to many of my friends in the past.”
The Access Course in Combined Studies at North West Regional College offers an opportunity for students normally over 19 years of age, who have been out of full time education for at least one year, a chance to return to study. NWRC offers Access Courses in Health and Welfare, Science, and Combined Studies, which are all validated by local universities. More information on all of NWRC’s Access Courses can be found online at You can also speak to one of the lecturers directly by emailing For information on careers you can contact a careers adviser on
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