As I handed over my letter of resignation I suddenly felt a feeling of panic, what was I doing? I’m a 28-year-old mother of two, why was I willing to so easily give up the job that I loved and had worked so hard to achieve to go back to university? I would be putting a strain on my family financially and adding stress to myself by doing it. I was too old! Or was I?
I had worked as a Learning Disability Nursing support worker since 2010 having fallen into the role after I finished my first degree. In the beginning I felt nervous about starting my band 2 job on my local assessment and treatment unit. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it or even be any good at it. But very quickly I came to find I loved it. I would be lying if at times I didn’t find it challenging but after a while I began to feel at home and knew I was doing a job I loved. After a short while I was lucky enough to apply for and get a band 3 position on the same unit. It was perfect - I still got to do the job I loved and now I was getting the opportunity to do it for slightly more money.
As luck would have it whilst pregnant with my first child an opportunity came up for a position within the learning disability community team. This again would provide me with an opportunity of gaining different kinds of experience whilst still giving me the opportunity of supporting people who had learning disabilities. I had my interview and was very pleased to get the job! I went into labour later that day but that’s a different story for a different blog!
After returning from maternity leave I began my new band 4 role in the community. It was perfect, I was having an opportunity of using and further developing my skills. Whilst carrying out this role I was lucky enough to be working alongside nurses who inspired me; I looked at them as role models, they taught me so much about what being learning disability nurse involved.
I began to think: ‘could I do that? I share their passion about promoting the quality of life of those I am supporting, so why not?’ So that was that! With help from one of the nurses, I turned up at the University of South Wales’ Open Day to find out if there was a chance of being accepted on to the Learning Disability Nursing programme.
After an informal chat and an interview that day I did it! I got myself onto the course. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to finding the course challenging at times, it is a degree after all! Living in west Wales means I have a distance to travel to get to Uni which sometimes is a headache but as I sit here writing this blog heading towards the end of my second year as a learning disability student nurse I know I made the right decision.
The placements motivate me, they remind me of why I started this journey in the first place. I’m lucky to say that I love the career I’m working towards and feel honoured to work alongside some inspirational people and be able to support people with learning disabilities. There is still some distance to go in my journey but hopefully with determination I’ll get there and, as they say, the rest will be history!
Leanne Bateman is studying Bachelor of Nursing (Hons) (Learning Disabilities) at USW