Two PhD students on their surprising decisions – The Irish Times

Many people choose a graduate degree because they need specific skills related to their current role. But some simply want a change of direction, or choose a course that appears to be a somewhat left-wing choice. We spoke to two graduate students about how and why they chose a path less traveled.

From administration to law and mediation: Catherine Moran

“When the recession hit in 2008, I was working as an office clerk in an award-winning architecture firm for many years.

“I returned to university as a mature student and completed a four-year Honors Law Degree (LLB) at IT Carlow, now affiliated with SouthEast Technological University. Due to the long years it took me to establish myself, I decided not to continue my studies as a barrister at King’s Inns, but an interest in law, particularly labor law, remained.

“I had had many conversations with friends about workplace conflicts that had not been properly managed. My interest in law and conflict resolution led me to a Level 8 Postgraduate Certificate in Mediation from Griffith College Dublin.

“In practice, mediation is about reformulating and directing a difficult conversation to find your own solution to a problem. When questioning someone’s motives, we can approach the issue with “Why did you do that?”; In return, we may receive a defensive or aggressive response to what is perceived as an accusatory question. Rephrasing this question to “I want to understand the reasons for…” will return a less defensive response as the person will not feel as if they are being directly blamed.

“Training and working as a mediator and behavior analyst in the workplace has provided greater insight and understanding of the dynamics between people and our perceptions of ourselves and others.

“I continue to work as an office clerk in the architectural office and have my own practice as a mediator.

“I work primarily with couples who have broken up and offer mediation for work, community or neighborhood disputes. Parenting plans, budgets, separation agreements, and court filings for divorce decrees are all part of what we do without the expense of hiring an attorney. More and more people are realizing that they can reach their own agreement through mediation, rather than having the courts dictate their decisions.”

· Catherine Moran is a Fellow of the Mediators Institute of Ireland. Learn more about her practice at


From Human Resources to Clinical Leadership: Lorraine Inglis

“I have worked in a range of industries including manufacturing and construction, education and since 2017 at Centric Health, a primary care company with over 70 primary care practices and 600,000 patients in Ireland.

“I previously had my own recruitment agency, but healthcare was a new field for me.

“There’s a different dynamic in healthcare, but I don’t work in healthcare. I wanted to gain better insight into the needs of my healthcare colleagues and the pressures they are under. I’ve witnessed the extraordinary efforts my colleagues and support staff have been making during the pandemic and I wanted a better understanding.

“So I enrolled in the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland for the Professional Diploma in Clinical Leadership (PDiCL). [where participants usually come from healthcare backgrounds and can include doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other health professionals, as well as those from business backgrounds who want to develop leadership skills].

“Approximately 16 of my colleagues had completed the course and while we were making our development plans I wanted to have a more clinical side to my portfolio.

“One of the modules focused on you, what you do and your approach to leadership, and there were reflections on ourselves as individuals, as leaders and team players.

“We looked at case studies where health management got it wrong and the consequences.

“It has given me a better insight into the different healthcare stakeholders and most importantly how the patient can get the best outcome from healthcare. It has given me a better toolbox to step back and consider the wide range of options and their potential impact on my decisions.”

· Lorraine Inglis is an RCSI Professional Diploma in Clinical Leadership and is Head of Human Resources at Centric Health Two PhD students on their surprising decisions – The Irish Times

Dais Johnston

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