Cork Profile - Parvathy Unnithan
When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? A medical professional, with Monday to Friday hours and no nights or weekends.
Tell us about your career progression to your role today: I was trained as a general nurse in one of the reputed hospitals in Kerala, India where I worked in medical and surgical wards after my graduation before moving to Ireland in 2010. I began working in a nursing home in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary as a Registered Nurse and was promoted to Acting Clinical Nurse Manager (CNM).
One of the most exciting and resourceful roles in my career was when I joined Mercy University Hospital’s Emergency Department in 2014 as a Staff Nurse. It helped me to build my career and professional education in the best possible way. Over my six years there I gained valuable experience in dealing with patients of all age groups, with diverse disease conditions, while working as part of a fabulous multidisciplinary team.
I completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Emergency Nursing, followed by a Masters in Nursing in 2019. These qualifications were a steppingstone for my career as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), which was my dream career pathway. I held CNM roles in the Emergency Department and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit, and a CNS role in Respiratory during the Covid pandemic, before ultimately becoming CNS for Stoma Care in 2020.
The Stoma Care Service in the Mercy functioned uninterrupted during the pandemic due to the excellent support from Mercy management, even when many of the stoma care services in other Irish hospitals stopped functioning. The Mercy support of this service during that time was truly commendable. I am currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Stoma Care Nursing from Ulster University, which I hope to complete in June this year.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? It’s a very rewarding job. You support a vulnerable patient population during a difficult time for them. The role of a nurse in any speciality is about providing holistic care to the patient and I think it is very important for a stoma care nurse specialist to work in collaboration with the multidisciplinary clinical team to provide this holistic care.
What motivates you? The medical profession itself motivates me. I like to gain knowledge about the human body, diseases, cures and prognosis. In my role as Stoma Care Nurse, the feedback from patients and teams motivates me the most.
It is very rewarding when I can help patients by resolving the stoma care issues and helping them to get back onto their family and social life.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self? Not to be an introvert.
If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?Teaching in any of the medical specialities.
What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date? Being a Stoma Care CNS and being able to shape the service to achieve high quality care for patients.
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? My mother.
What is the life dream now? From a professional life point of view, to keep improving the Stoma Care Service to an excellent standard. From a personal point of view, I want to travel more and raise my children as good citizens.
How do you switch off? Music and road trips with family.
What is your favourite Cork memory? Being able to speak at the Mercy University Hospital Conference last year. As a nurse from overseas, I just wasn’t expecting it. I felt that my work was considered important by the hospital and my contribution was valued.
What is your favourite place in Cork? West Cork
Do you have a favourite quote or motto? ‘Life is like a cup of tea. It’s all in how you make it.’
When are you at your happiest? Going home to India for visits and going on road trips to West Cork with my family.
What is your hidden talent? Singing and dancing!
What might we be surprised to know about you? I am very calm at work but perhaps not quite so calm at home sometimes!
Name and position: Parvathy Unnithan, Stoma Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Mercy University Hospital
Lives: Passage West
Family: Husband, son and daughter
Favourite thing about Cork: People are very helpful, easy to get around the city, location is amazing for road trips, beaches, eating out, schools, etc.
Least favourite thing about Cork: Roads are narrow and heavy traffic at peak hours which I deal with on a daily basis!
One thing you’d change about Cork: Road network, everything else is good.