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Why I Chose to Study Learning Disabilities Nursing

Alice Turner Nursing

I am currently in my 2nd and final year of the MSc Nursing Science Registered Nurse (Learning Disabilities) course. As a mum in my 30s, I found it a difficult choice to commit to going back to being a student, but I am so glad that I decided to take the plunge and retrain, to the point where I wish I had applied sooner. My previous degrees were in Sport Science and Research in Sport and Exercise Physiology, so I had some worries about not having a relevant background for nursing. However, the course is designed to support everyone regardless of background. Having experience working in a caring environment is also a requirement for the MSc and for me this was working in a preschool. I also worked as a support worker for someone with physical disabilities in the run up to the start of the course.

I grew up with an older sister, who happened to have Down Syndrome, which led me to consider working with people with learning disabilities. Initially, I was aiming towards teaching children with special educational needs and disabilities, however this never felt quite right for me. It was when I started looking into nursing about eight years ago that I discovered that I could specialise in providing care for those with learning disabilities. It was only during the pandemic that I began looking into training as a nurse again; I had moved back north to live with my family and to help support with the care of my sister, who was then under palliative care. It was looking after her that made me realise that I already had some of the skills and knowledge that were required of a nurse, and it gave me confidence to apply for the course. At this point, I wanted something good to come out of the pandemic and it was the prime time for a career change as I had left my job in the preschool when I moved.

The support provided by my friends on the course and the learning disabilities staff team has been excellent and when my sister passed away during my first year, my tutor was there to support me with the different options for continuing my studies. It was the experience gained from having her as my sister and supporting with her care that has driven my passion and work ethic throughout the course, and she remains my motivation to succeed.

I think the ideal person to apply for the course should be passionate and inspired to support people with learning disabilities, promote inclusion and advocate for independence and improved quality of life.

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