The learning disability nursing degree has been and continues to be one of the greatest challenges of my adult life. I have very little money. I travel 120 miles a day to attend. I am constantly besieged with doubt over my abilities as a future health professional. I had no idea that the placements would be so demanding of my time.
Having read that, you might be surprised to hear- that I love it!
Despite all of the gripes and irritations mentioned above I come back every week. This is in no small part due to my lecturers. The lecturers are some of the most supportive and knowledgeable specialists that I have ever had the privilege of meeting. They truly encourage you to aim high and allow you to almost tailor the course to your own personal learning and experience goals.
Training to become a nurse was never a goal of mine. I pictured sterile environments, iron lungs and blood and bile. However, I love working for people who have a learning disability. I did so as a support worker for many years, but began to become frustrated with the lack of progression opportunities within the job role. I wanted more.
Becoming a registered learning disability nurse does make you a nurse- a real one, with medical know-how and a registration with the NMC and yes- still some blood and bile... but it is more than that. More perhaps than any of the other nursing fields.
You become a specialist in the field of learning disabilities.
This makes you a specialist across the life span. Your specialism includes babies, children, adults and the elderly. It includes knowledge of the law, of health, of silent and hidden communications. You will work with some of the most vulnerable people in society, but also the most resourceful and resilient people in the world.
It will challenge you, and humble you, and mould you into one of those knowledgable and supportive people that were mentioned above.
It is a shame that more people are not aware of the wonderful work we do. Unaware of the support, understanding and friendship we provide to people who need us. We have been doing this for nearly 100 years and will be for at least 100 more.
Let’s break the silence and let the world know what we are and what we do. Show them that nursing isn’t all iron lungs and paperwork and double shifts. We learning disability nurses still care. We still spend time with patients, and we still change lives.
You can train to become a Learning Disability Nurse at University of South Wales, you can find more information on the USW website: https://www.southwales.ac.uk/courses/bachelor-of-nursing-honslearning-disabilities/
You can also contact Rachel Morgan via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
-A besieged second year.