Jenny Earley

Profile picture of Jenny Earley

Jenny Earley’s career path had taken some unexpected turns before she found herself taking on DCU’s MSc in Health and Social Inclusion. 

She works as a social worker in the GUIDE sexual health clinic at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. Originally she imagined herself working abroad, having completed the MA in International Relations at DCU.

However, the pandemic sent her in a new direction and she had to look closer to home. “I applied for work in St James’ as I felt this was an area where social workers can offer support when patients are at their most vulnerable. I was very fortunate to have ended up in GUIDE!”

The job can range from organising counselling to helping patients to find suitable housing, and the hospital was dealing with increasing numbers of Ukrainian and other refugees. Jenny needed new skills to better help marginalised people who were seeking treatment. “A lot of the barriers are system barriers, they’re national barriers. So I wanted to get the tools to be able to hopefully implement something in our clinic.”

Jenny applied for the MSc in Health and Social Inclusion, a brand new course offered by DCU’s School of Nursing, Psychology and Community Health. She was impressed by the lecturers who were passionate about promoting inclusivity and empowering the students to make a positive impact. Meanwhile, the guest lecturers generously shared their experiences and provided practical advice.

Taking on the master’s encouraged her to go for a team leader position. “We did a leadership module and that pushed me on to apply for a leadership role in the hospital,” says Jenny, who got her promotion during the time she was doing the course. 

The programme allows the students to explore issues that have real-world applications. Jenny’s dissertation focused on trauma-informed care. She says this involves “being aware that people might have traumas that we're unaware of” and adjusting the way they are treated to ensure that “the environment is more inclusive so that nothing triggers them further.”

Another element she enjoyed was the independent study module which allowed her to pursue an area of interest. For Jenny, this was an opportunity to look at how people working in the social care sector manage self-care. “Social workers are good at looking at supports needed for other people and making sure everyone else looks after themselves but I think sometimes you can neglect your own self-care,” says Jenny. 

She admits that she probably would not have looked into issues like this if she hadn’t taken on the Master’s. The course has given her “a fire” to do more in the inclusivity area, and to continue her educational journey. “There’s always more learning out there.”

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