NUI Galway Pioneers Postgraduate Training in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Left to right: Neil Johnson, CEO, Croí; Jenni Jones, Assistant Programme Director; Dr Ger Flaherty Programme Director, School of Medicine, NUI Galway.
May 21 2013 Posted: 09:51 IST

NUI Galway is set to become the first university in Ireland to provide postgraduate training to Masters level (MSc) in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in a unique community partnership with the heart and stroke charity Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation.

Croí has led the development of this programme through a collaboration with industry partners Kerry Group and MSD Ireland; HSE West and NUI Galway.

The University is currently recruiting its first intake of students to the one year full-time in service course, due to commence in September of this year.

Programme Director for the new Masters course in Preventive Cardiology, which also has a postgraduate Diploma stream, Dr Gerard Flaherty, who has recently been appointed Honorary Academic Director at the new Croí Heart and Stroke Centre, Galway says; “With all of the expensive high technology interventions in medicine, it is easy to neglect the fundamentals of prevention, yet the evidence for cardiovascular disease prevention is compelling despite the challenges of translating it into effective patient care.”

This innovative postgraduate course is only one of two of its kind in the world and the collaboration with Croí makes it unique. The founder course at Imperial College London is fully supportive of the NUI Galway programme. Assistant Course Director of the Galway programme, Jenni Jones, recently joined Croí from Imperial College London, where she was Programme Leader for their Masters in Preventive Cardiology course.

Commenting on the partnership, Croí CEO Neil Johnson, said: “This exciting collaboration will contribute significantly to translating scientific evidence to practice in reducing mortality and morbidity from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Furthermore, the programme strengthens the links between Croí and the School of Medicine at NUI Galway where earlier this year five members of the Croí Health Team were awarded Honorary Clinical Fellowships for their contribution to medical education through the delivery of special study modules to medical students.”

This new educational development at NUI Galway comes about due to the success of the Croí MyAction lifestyle and behavioural change programme which was established in Galway by Croí almost five years ago. Since then, thousands of individuals at risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes have benefited from changes to their lifestyle in terms of diet, weight, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol reduction.

“We believe that for Irish healthcare professionals to have access to a Masters in Preventive Cardiology will ultimately be of enormous benefit to Irish patients” said Mairead McCaul of MSD who also announced their sponsorship of a bursary fund for the programme. “We are very pleased to be involved in this partnership and to further enhance our commitment to Croí and NUI Galway. We are delighted to announce that successful applicants to the Masters programme can apply through Croí for the MSD Preventive Cardiology Bursary.”

Announcing details of the new postgraduate programme, Dr Flaherty said: “This course will equip a diverse array of healthcare workers with the knowledge and practical skills required to implement the evidence-based international guidelines in clinical practice. The course will comprise three core modules to be completed in semester 1 and one of three elective advanced modules in semester 2. All of the teaching will be delivered in the state-of-the-art Croí Heart and Stroke Centre in Galway. Masters candidates will also complete a supervised research project in semester 2 and submit a ready-for-publication dissertation by an August deadline.”

Dr Flaherty added: “It is expected that the course will appeal to doctors, nurses, dieticians, physiotherapists, pharmacists, sports scientists, healthcare managers, health promotion graduates and health economists, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of preventive cardiology.”

The new Masters in Preventive Cardiology programme is being supported by an honorary advisory council which is comprised of experts in areas such as cardiology, endocrinology, obesity, stroke, medical education and industry. Among its membership is Galway businessman Pádraig Ó’Céidigh who has recently spoken publicly of his own heart health issues.


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