This week our EBN Blog Series has focused on Learning Disability with thought-provoking blogs from Professor Ruth Northway, on nursing older people with learning disabilities and Nurse Consultant Jonathan Beebee, on the future of learning disability nursing. Today we are delighted to share the student nurse perspective on learning disability nursing from student nurse Amy Wixey, a rising star from the University of Chester.
I remember my first day like it was yesterday, as a student Learning Disability nurse. That day was the most exciting and the most nerve-racking day of my life. Now I can’t believe that it has been two years and 3 months since that day, what an incredible journey it has been. I have had a wealth of experience since then.
I am currently in my 3rd year at the University of Chester, my first choice since the beginning of my UCAS application. It’s scary to think that it has been three years since I was attending open days and writing my personal statement. I fell in love with Chester from the moment I went to their open day, coming from a small town, the University’s friendly community is what made me want to study here. The city isn’t too overwhelming but then it isn’t too small, which was perfect for me.
Before coming into Learning Disability nursing I thought I had an idea of what my course would entail as my mother is a Registered Learning Disability Nurse and has been for over 30 years now. Her vast knowledge and my childhood memories of visiting her at work gave me the building blocks to what I already knew would be a fantastic career.
To date I have been on four 10 week placements, these have been within the NHS and the private sector. All these placements have been valuable to me, they have allowed me to work with a number of professionals not just the Learning Disability Nurse. Placements have allowed me to see the importance of Multi-Disciplinary Team working and person centred care, these two approaches have shown that, if used correctly, they can lead the way in ensuring an individual can achieve the best quality of life.
Since the beginning of my degree, I have gained part time employment with a company that specialises in supported living for individuals with a Learning Disability and Mental Health problems. Their philosophy “Delivering on your potential” has given the opportunities for me to practice what I believe. Individuals with Learning Disabilities should have the right to deliver on their potential, with the support from dedicated staff. Working part time has allowed me to develop my skills further while I am not on placements with the University, in which I am grateful for.
Through all the highs there have also been lows. If I have ever had a bad day, I put it down to experience and reflected on the situation that had happened. I have also made friends who I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. They have encouraged me and supported me, like I have with them all the way. One thing I have learnt to do is to not worry, the good days outweigh the bad days by far. A simple “thank you for listening to me” made my heart smile.
If I could give any key lessons to remember as you enter this new stage of your life.
- Never do something you are unsure of. Always ask questions, it is better to ask.
- Ensure you reflect. Reflecting allows you to look back on the situation, see what could be done better, what was done well.
- Try not to put pressure on yourself, just try your best. Be proud.
- Respect health care assistants, they know the area they are working in, don’t be afraid to utilise them.
- Don’t be afraid to get upset. Just choose your moment, we all have bad days, it’s important to acknowledge that.
- Most of all treat people the way you or your family would like to be treated.
Check out EBN’s own top 5 recommended resources on Learning Disability below:
- Chue, P. (2014) ‘In adults with intellectual disability, discontinuation of antipsychotics is associated with reduction in weight, BMI, waist circumference and blood pressure’, Evidence-Based Nursing, 17, (3), pp. 89
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- EBN Podcast with Professor Chue on intellectual disability and antipsychotic medication.
- Balandin, S. (2008) ‘Inpatients with cerebral palsy and complex communication needs identified barriers to communicating with nurses’, Evidence-Based Nursing, 11, (1), pp. 30.
- EBN Guest Blog by Carole Beighton on Parenting Children with Intellectual Disabilities