Work experience in a special education unit led Rhiannon to a career in learning disabilities nursing

Rhiannon James - nursing student

Rhiannon’s passion for learning disabilities nursing came from her work experience at a special education unit. In the final year of her course, Rhiannon couldn’t be prouder to work in this area of nursing.

“I'm proud to be a student learning disabilities nurse and to be studying at USW. I'm so glad I decided to join this profession despite it being quite an 'unknown' area of nursing. I would recommend that anybody wanting to work with people and make a difference, should look into learning disabilities nursing. It's a unique and rewarding profession which you won’t regret!

While studying for my GCSEs, I felt like all my friends knew what they wanted to do. I was the only one who had no idea. Feeling unmotivated to find work experience, my school placed me in the Special Education Unit. Little did I know, this week of work experience would change my life forever.

After the first day in the classroom, I knew I wanted a career where I could work with people with learning disabilities. When looking into different jobs and university courses, learning disability nursing seemed like the perfect fit.

At the end of my work experience, I continued to volunteer in the unit in my free lessons during A Levels. I also volunteered in a local evening club for teenagers and adults with learning disabilities, which I continue to do alongside my learning disabilities nursing degree. This work introduced me to the challenges people with learning disabilities sometimes face, and the importance of working collaboratively with others to overcome barriers creatively.

I was extremely nervous to start the nursing degree. Although I felt I had some understanding of the social and emotional needs of people with learning disabilities, my experience was lacking from a physical health perspective. However, there was a mixture of people from different backgrounds on the course. We all have the same passion for supporting people with learning disabilities to have the best quality of life and have built supportive friendships with each other.

The academic support at the university has been great, and the quality of supervisions with assignments has been helpful. The tutors aim to get the best out of students and will go the extra mile. I've had an excellent personal tutor throughout my degree, who has supported me with personal issues, providing reassurance during stressful times.”

See our research into learning disabilities.