Learning Disability nursing as a mature student – Jacqui Brown

As a 43-year-old single mum of three, I decided I wanted a complete change in my career and wanted to do something that would help others and have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Learning Disability display board in support of Learning Disability Awareness Week

A year ago, I would never have imagined I would be sat here, on placement with the CHC team at NHS Doncaster CCG writing a blog for Learning Disability Awareness week. But here I am, almost completing the first year of my training.

Many people ask me why I chose to train as a learning disability nurse and the answer is quite simple. I am passionate about supporting some of the most vulnerable individuals within society and because I wanted a career where I knew that I could make a difference.

Previously, I had never considered a career in nursing and I am embarrassed to say that my perceptions of nurses were very stereotyped. Now, thankfully, I know better.

Learning disability nurses support the individual holistically, helping them to overcome physiological, psychological and sociological barriers to achieve their full potential and I am so excited to be part of this process.

Today I witnessed the difference that good support can make to an individual’s quality of life. I honestly can’t imagine anything more rewarding. Especially with a group of people who still experience a huge amount of stigma, stereotyping and health inequalities

Starting this journey has been one of the better choices I have made in my life, overcoming my fear of returning to education and taking that first step.

I’ve met some wonderful people, gained skills at a whole new level and learnt things about the world and myself that I had not previously been aware of.

I can’t pretend that returning to education has been easy; there have been tears and tantrums, but also at the same time, huge satisfaction.

My change in direction has been achievable with a little organisation and forward planning, and my life experiences have aided my professional development. I’ve still got lots to learn and a long way to travel before I can officially call myself a registered learning disability nurse and I am determined to make this happen.

I would passionately encourage anyone with an open mind, a good heart and a desire to make a difference to consider learning disability nursing as a career choice and like me, at the age of 43, take the plunge and fulfil your dreams and aspirations. It’s vital that we do all we can to address stereotypes and myths that exist about nursing and it’s great that we have an active network of nursing ambassadors here in Doncaster to help encourage people into nursing.

Further information about learning disability nursing and entering the world of nursing can be found on the health careers website.

Find out more about how we have proactively raised awareness throughout Learning Disability Awareness Week by watching a series of short videos.