Director of student health retires after 24 years

Image Credit: Sinead Mohan

Dr Sandra Tighe has ended her tenure as Director of student health at UCD. She has held the position from 1997-2021. The new Director has not yet been appointed, Dr Eadaoin Lysaght is currently acting medical Director.

Dr Tighe spoke to the University Observer on her time in the role. When asked about her experience as Director, Dr Tighe said “I worked in Student Health as Director for 24 years and I very much enjoyed my time there”, adding that “the students are a great group of people to work with and I noticed that they got younger every year.” She noted that “it was great working with students from all over the world.”

Dr Tighe outlined that when she began as Director in 1997 “the Student Health and Counselling Service was in a very small space downstairs... there were 2 doctors’ rooms, one cupboard like room for a nurse, and one room for the counsellors with a tiny office and waiting room”. The service staffed “1.5 doctors, 1 nurse, two part-time counsellors, one admin, and a visiting Psychiatrist”. When asked about developments she helped implement during her time in the role, Tighe stated that she is “most proud that during my tenure we moved to purpose-built premises in the Student Centre with a spacious waiting room”, and that the centre was computerised in 2000. 

Dr Tighe stated that the amount of staff at the health service has “grown significantly” since she began, and there has also been a “significant increase” in the counselling team - a new Head of Counselling was hired in 2019. Tighe outlined that she hired an addiction counsellor during her tenure, and increased the psychiatric provision with a Psychiatrist as part of the Student Health team. The team also developed STI clinics and increased provision for contraception including implantation fitting.

Dr Tighe outlined that the aspects of the job she most enjoyed were “working as part of a great team,” and “helping students through difficult times in their lives and seeing them come out the other side of it”. Tighe stated that she “enjoyed having the privilege of hearing about young people’s lives and making a difference to them.”

Tighe described working through Covid as a “challenge”, but stated that she is “proud that we worked through it as a team”. The health service had to change how they worked “almost overnight”, changes involved “switching to telephone consults, rearranging rooms to make them safer for staff and students, managing our own fears about risks to ourselves while ensuring we maintained the service to students”. Tighe outlined that the service “remained open through all the lockdowns”. 

Tighe outlined that what she is most looking forward to in her retirement is “travelling a bit initially around Ireland.” Outlining that she would like to “visit and stay in every county”. Tighe will also pursue her other areas of interest; walking, archaeology and history.