"I’m proud to call myself a learning disabilities student nurse," says Sophie Prosser, 25, from Pontypridd. "My route to nursing hasn’t been easy, but I’ve got here and it’s all been worth it.
My journey started when I cared for a lady who had been resettled from an institution for people with learning disabilities. I loved her company. She had an amazing, sassy personality, and I was fascinated by her stories of life there.
I knew that as a carer, I could only go so far in my career, so I decided to become a student from home, completing an access to nursing course online whilst working full time.
I also changed my job, and became a nursing assistant on a ward in a general hospital. I did this to widen my experience, and ensure I was going into the right field of nursing.
After completing the access course and working on the ward for a year, I applied for learning disabilities nursing and the rest, as they say, is history.
I’m now in my final year and have had a rollercoaster of a time. As such, I have lots of advice to offer all you would-be nursing students.
Sign up to be an ambassador: As a student ambassador, I get the opportunity to speak about my experiences at Open Days and events. I also attend conferences, sit on the interview panel at the interview and much more. Being an ambassador will increase your confidence and bring you into contact with people not just from the nursing profession, but all walks of life, and this can only benefit you as a student nurse.
Know what to expect: Being a student nurse is not easy. You must have the work life balance all sorted and you have to be prepared to put in the effort. Nursing is not like a normal degree with long holidays, and a regular lie in. You need to be prepared for shift work, lectures, assignments – as well as making time for yourself. As a student nurse, a diary is your best friend - mine is with me wherever I go.
Question everything: University has taught me to question the whys, hows and whens I encounter in nursing and has given me a new-found confidence to do so.
Help others in their journey: I thoroughly enjoy talking to people and sharing my love for learning disabilities nursing. When I attended my first Open Day, I wanted to be that person in the purple scrubs answering questions, and now I am. I often get asked: "What do I say during the interview process?" or "How can I prepare?" The best advice I can give is to be yourself.
As well as thoroughly researching the nursing course and what it entails, you need to make sure the interview panel get a sense of who you are as a person. Nursing isn’t just about the theory, it’s about how YOU are as a person. Always ask yourself: "Would I say that to my family member?" or "Would I/family members want to be treated that way or cared for by that person?"
If you’re thinking about applying for learning disabilities nursing or coming to an Open Day, please come and say hello! I’m more than happy to answer questions and help you on your path to becoming a nurse.