Theresa Coleman

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Theresa’s experiences treating patients with sexual health concerns led her to DCU’s Graduate Certificate in Sexuality Education and Sexual Wellbeing.


“When I talk about sexual health to my patients, it's like I'm asking them what they want in their tea,” says Theresa Coleman.

Theresa has never worried about any of the taboos surrounding sexual health. She has decades of experience as a nurse and in the 1990s, at the height of the global HIV crisis, she worked on wards caring for AIDS patients in England and the US.

In 2017, she took up a role in the Sexual Health Clinic in Portlaoise Hospital, where she was manager of the PREP programme, which offers patients an antiviral medicine to prevent the acquisition of HIV.

But despite her interest and experience in the sexual health area, Theresa harboured regrets about the lack of formal training she had received. An online search led her to the DCU Graduate Certificate in Sexuality Education and Sexual Wellbeing.

Theresa is full of praise for the overall structure of the course and in particular the standard of teaching. “After each lecture it was just kind of ‘wow!’. It blew your head in the sense that there's so much more I need to be looking at and reading.”

A particular interest for her was the history of sexual health and sexuality in Ireland. “I left Ireland when I was 18 and I came back as an adult. So, there was an awful lot I missed,” she says. She adds that “learning the history and going back even further just horrified me.”

The course gave her additional knowledge and skills to understand patients and communicate with colleagues about this important but often under-resourced aspect of healthcare. One of the areas that she was able to put into practice was the module on teaching.

“That module was fantastic as well, giving me confidence to go back into the workplace and deliver [information] to all disciplines: doctors, admin staff, cleaning porters, everyone.”

Theresa says her interaction with patients has also evolved because of the course. “Within a couple of weeks I could see how I was different with patients because of what I had learned in previous weeks.”

The positive feedback she’s been receiving from them is a great reward. She says that patients will tell her, “I was so nervous prior to coming in. I didn't know what to expect, but you've made it so easy.” 

“To hear that come from a patient. Then it's a job well done,” says Theresa.

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