Dr Laoise Plunkett from Collinstown. Photo: Aengus McMahon

NUIG awards gold medal to new Collinstown doctor

A Collinstown woman who has just qualified as a doctor has spoken out to encourage new students to take advantage of the chance to become involved in activities at university.

“Everything I gave, I received back 100-fold,” says Dr Laoise Plunkett from Collinstown, who has been conferred with an Honours Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB, BCh, BAO) at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway.

At her conferring ceremony, Dr Plunkett was also named as recipient of a gold medal for Civic Engagement.

Dr Maureen Kelly, senior lecturer in General Practice and outgoing vice-dean for Civic Engagement at the university’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, paid tribute to Dr Plunkett, who is daughter of Michael Plunkett and Monica Fanning: “Laoise was awarded the gold medal in Civic Engagement for her long-standing record of engagement across several areas but in particular with the NUIG Kayaking club. Her leadership and commitment ensured that the club was supportive to female members,” said Dr Kelly.

“Laoise has been instrumental in several initiatives that promote and encourage increased female participation in the sport. These initiatives, including those based on the NUI Galway Active Consent training, had an emphasis on developing a culture of personal safety and respect for all genders.

“The values she displayed in that work – reciprocity, respect and commitment – will no doubt serve her patients well in the future. She is a worthy winner of this year’s Gold Medal for Civic Engagement.”

Dr Plunkett said: “When I came to NUI Galway to study medicine, I was eager to become fully engaged in university life. Volunteering was something I wanted to do, and as I progressed through university I became more involved in leadership roles in societies, such as the Voluntary Services Abroad Society and the Kayak Club.”

In 2017 the #MeToo movement spurred Dr Plunkett to combine her love of sport with her ambition to create spaces where women could feel safe.

“I am grateful for all the opportunities NUI Galway has given me, and for the support I received from the members of the NUIG-GMIT Kayak Club during my final year,” she said, adding that she would encourage students to become actively involved in activities in university: “Everything I gave, I received back a hundred-fold.

“The friendships made and sense of belonging that I found at NUI Galway will stay with me as I embark on my medical career,” she said.

NUI Galway has been acknowledging student excellence through the award of gold medals in Medicine for over 100 years. In partnership with the Community Knowledge Initiative gold medals are awarded to a Medicine student in the School of Medicine for their Civic Engagement contribution.

Dr Plunkett is starting work in the obstetrics and gynaecology department at University Hospital Kerry (Tralee).