NUI Galway makes history with new master’s programme in heart disease prevention

Pictured at the Croi Heart and Stroke Centre Galway to mark the launch of a new MSc in preventive cardiology, being the first in Ireland, are (from left to right); Neil Johnson CEO Croi; Jenni Jones, director of prevention programmes, Croi Heart & Stroke Centre Galway; and Dr Gerard Flaherty, NUI Galway, MSc programme director.

Pictured at the Croi Heart and Stroke Centre Galway to mark the launch of a new MSc in preventive cardiology, being the first in Ireland, are (from left to right); Neil Johnson CEO Croi; Jenni Jones, director of prevention programmes, Croi Heart & Stroke Centre Galway; and Dr Gerard Flaherty, NUI Galway, MSc programme director.

NUI Galway will make history when it becomes the first university in Ireland to provide postgraduate training to master’s level (MSc ) in the prevention of heart disease.

The initiative is as a result of a unique community partnership with the heart and stroke charity Croí, also known as the West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation.

It spearheaded this programme through a collaboration with industry partners the Kerry Group and MSD Ireland; the HSE West and NUI Galway.

The university is currently recruiting its first intake of students to the one year full-time in service course which is due to begin in September.

Dr Gerard Flaherty, the programme director for the new master’s course in preventive cardiology, which also has a postgraduate diploma stream, says with all 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,” outlines the doctor who has recently been appointed honorary academic director of the new Croí Heart and Stroke Centre at Moyola Lane, Newcastle.

The innovative postgraduate course is one of two of its kind in the world and the collaboration with Croí makes it unique. The founder course at the Imperial College, London, is fully supportive of the NUI Galway programme. The assistant course director of the Galway programme, Jenni Jones, recently joined Croí from the English college where she was programme leader for its master’s in preventive cardiology course.

Announcing details of the Galway postgraduate programme, Dr Flaherty says it 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 one and one of three elective advanced modules in semester two. All of the teaching will be delivered in the state-of-the-art Croí Heart and Stroke Centre. Master’s candidates will also complete a supervised research project in semester two and submit a ready-for-publication dissertation by an August deadline.

“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 master’s in preventive cardiology programme is being supported by an honorary advisory council which comprises a number 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.

Commenting on the overall partnership, Croí CEO Neil Johnson, states 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 the charity almost five years ago. Since then, thousands of people at risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes have benefited from lifestyle changes, such as 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,” says Mairead McCaul of thehealthcare company MSD which will sponsors 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 master’s programme can apply through Croí for the MSD preventive cardiology bursary.”

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