"I was a civil servant for 13 years and worked within some of the most deprived areas in Wales to try and alleviate poverty. As I progressed through my career I developed into the role of Healthier Communities Development officer which gave me the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life and with different abilities. My role allowed me to deliver health messages that were conveyed in a way that people not only understood but were given practical skills in order to reach their full potential. Helping people is what makes me happy, but I felt my role was only ‘scratching the surface’ as the saying goes and I wanted to use my strengths and take it to the next level.
"I have always wanted to be a nurse. From a young age I can remember bandaging my mother with toilet roll and always wanting to take on the caring role. But my career was put on hold to take on the role of motherhood and, well, life just passed by. But eventually with the support of my colleagues I took the plunge and applied - the rest is history!
"I wasn’t aware that you could specialise in learning disability nursing but I knew this was the right path for me.
"I had the opportunity through my role to work with individuals with learning disabilities and I just knew that this was my calling. Providing support, education and empowering individuals with learning disabilities to be independent and participate and be involved in community activities gave me a sense of pride and fulfilment. I suppose choosing a career in nursing was for my own selfish reasons; the satisfaction that the role brings sometimes overwhelms me.
"I have been fortunate enough that every experience I have encountered on my degree so far has given me excellent opportunities and I have learnt so much. I have met many wonderful people along the way - patients, mentors, nurses, and health care professionals all of whom have taught me new skills but also that little extra about myself and the reasons behind what I am trying to achieve.
"The scope of opportunities is vast and confirms to me that learning disability nursing isn’t just a niche and there is so much out there. The University of South Wales is a friendly campus, supportive and I feel at home studying here. Everyone is approachable and my pastoral support has been amazing. I am a full time carer to my mother who is disabled and chronically ill, sometimes fitting everything in is a juggling act in itself but having the support from my personal tutor has left me feeling supported and reassured through some difficult times that I have encountered during my studies."
Ria Jones is studying Learning Disabilities Nursing at USW.