Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing (Acute Medicine)

College of Medicine, Nursing, & Health Sciences
School of Nursing and Midwifery

Course overview

This Programme aims to meet the educational needs of nurses working in an acute medical unit (AMU, AMAU, MAU), short stay unit or equivalent which cares for patients with acute medical conditions. Nationally it is recognised that these nurses must consolidate and expand their knowledge and skills in response to the need for early detailed assessment and development of initial treatment plans (HSE, 2010). 

The programme will be delivered full-time over one calendar year via blended learning which is a combination of on-line learning and face-to-face workshops.  There are 7 theory/practice modules, including a Service Improvement Project and students will complete 3 clinical competency assessments, one in each trimester. Workshops will employ a variety of teaching strategies including, problem focused lectures, skills teaching, simulated patient scenario based exercises, student-led seminars, small group learning and experiential learning.  Students will simultaneously work in the clinical setting for the duration of the programme and will have to complete a minimum of 1000 hours in an acute medical unit or equivalent setting.  Student learning in the clinical setting will be supported by their unit manager and named preceptor.

Learning Outcomes

To enable students to work at this level they must be able to undertake physical assessment of patients, use critical thinking skills to formulate differential nursing diagnoses and clinical impressions, identify required nursing interventions and evaluate plans for their clients.  Furthermore, students must be able to critically question traditional nursing roles and culture and examine ways of expanding current scope of practice within their own workplace.  This course will be delivered in collaboration with key clinical front line management and personnel to examine creative teaching and assessment methods grounded in practice that enable students to develop these critical skills.  Some examples of the learning outcomes for the programme are given below -


  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills in the use of the major therapeutic interventions utilised in the stabilisation of clients with acute medical conditions.  
  • Conduct a comprehensive initial assessment, including physical assessment, of acute medical patients and prompts investigations and timely initiation of treatment.

  • Recognise and respond swiftly to the signs and symptoms of client deterioration.

  • Implement specific targeted initiatives around presenting complaints in older people i.e. falls, acute delirium, dementia, related syndromes, poly-pharmacy problems and general functional decline. 
  • Demonstrate competency in the recognition and management of common medical problems including shock and respiratory failure and with the associated clinical skills – Arterial Blood Gas analysis, Non Invasive Mechanical Ventilation, Assist with Rapid Sequence Induction. 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the specific guidelines, algorithms, care pathways and care bundles that are implemented for acute medical conditions.

Key facts

Entry requirements

  • An Honours Bachelor Degree at NFQ Level 8 in nursing or a comparable qualification.

  • Registration as a General nurse on the live register of An Bord Altranais agus Cnáimhseachais na hÄ’ireann.

  • Currently employed as a nurse in an Acute Medical Unit (AMUs), Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAUs),  Medical Assessment Unit (MAUs), Short Stay Unit (SSU),  or an equivalent clinical setting that has a remit for caring for patients in the acute stage of their medical illness.  The applicants must have a minimum of 6 months experience in this setting over the past two years.

  • Written evidence of support for the applicant from their Director of Nursing and clinical unit manager.

  • Minimum academic and/or professional qualifications and standards required, together with any equivalence that may apply.

Applicants who hold neither an honours degree nor higher diploma (Level 8) may apply but must clearly demonstrated their capacity to undertake a programme at this level. In addition to the requirements outlined above these applicants are expected to submit a 1,000-word literature-based essay on a topic relevant to the specialist area. To be considered for admission this essay must be judged equivalent to an honours degree (Level 8). Click here for guidelines on this essay.

Duration: 1 year, full-time

Next start date: September 2015

ECTS weighting: 90

Average intake: 20

Closing date: Please refer to the review/closing date website.

Mode of study: Blended learning

Course outline


Trimester 1
(Sept – Dec)

Trimester 2
(Jan – May)

Trimester 3

  • Recognising and responding to client deterioration
    (10 ECTS)
    Workshop contact 2 days

  • Using Research in Practice
    10 ECTS
    Workshop contact 1 day
    (2 half days)

  • Nursing Care of the older person
    (10 ECTS)
    Workshop contact 2 days
  • Service Improvement
    (30 ECTS)
    Submit service  improvement plan 
  • Essential Physical Assessment Skills
    (10 ECTS)
    Workshop contact 2 days

  • Clinical Governance: Supporting Safe Practice
    (10 ECTS)
    Workshop contact 1 day
  • Principles and practice of acute medical nursing
    (10 ECTS)
    Workshop contact 2 days 
Finalise and submit service improvement assignment and portfolio.
Delivery Approach
Learning pack supported by facilitated on-line learning.  Students will engage in discussion boards, learning activities, read set materials post and respond to questions set by peers and/or the moderator.  Complete e-tivities. Workshops for each module.   On-line support by assigned clinical preceptor.
Direct Contact
Five days direct contact + minimum of 2 hours on-line facilitation each week per module. Five days direct contact + minimum of 2 hours on-line facilitation each week per module. Support with Service Improvement module by academic supervisor.
Assessment of Clinical Competence
Clinical  competence assessment 1, 2 and 3
Clinical Practice

Clinical Hours
Students are expected to apply learning in their clinical practice

1000 hrs – reflected in log book, signed by student and unit manager


Applications and selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above. 

Who teaches this course?

See full staff list here.

Find out more

Yvonne Conway
School of Nursing and Midwifery
T +353 91 492 926

PAC code


Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,000 p.a. 2014/15 (inclusive of Levy)
 - Tuition: €5,776 p.a. 2014/15
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2014/15
Non-EU (Total): €13,750 p.a. 2014/15