I had the wonderful opportunity during my BSN program to take course at Trinity College during their winter session. For three weeks, my classmates and I learned about nursing in Ireland. We even shadowed at several major Dublin hospitals. It is one of my most treasured memories from nursing school.
Things were so different, but still so similar. I was jealous of the amount of clinical hours student nurses received. Since I was not practicing as an RN yet, it is hard to say that we have more autonomy in the US, but I can say that both general nurses, well as nurses in the fields of mental health, intellectual disabilities, midwifery and children's nursing seemed to really know and love what they were doing.
Overall, it seemed that nurses in Ireland were really able to focus on their jobs rather than tedious, unnecessary charting and minor complaints from patients, family and management. I did not see that sense of entitlement from patients and families that we deal with constantly in the US. Maybe I was just there on a good day, but it really seemed like nurses were almost always respected as health professionals, rather than providers of narcotics and snacks.
The sightseeing and night life in Ireland wasn't too bad either .