Student’s passage to India opens up a road to skills development

Date 25.02.2019

An overseas clinical placement has helped a student develop the communication skills that are a core component of their degree, increasing their employability as a nurse.

Shelby Pilgrem, who is in the third year of her Learning Disability (LD) Nursing course and pictured left in the photo, spent three weeks in Faridabad, India working in a variety of settings, including slum clinics and hospitals.

Whilst there she observed surgery and a caesarean section and also provided support at local hospitals for children and people who have a learning disability.

Shelby, who is the first University of Northampton LD nursing student to have a clinical placement in India, explained why she went: “The main reason I went was to experience healthcare in a part of the world where, unfortunately, health services aren’t as well funded like here in the UK. It was a real eye-opener.

“A big part of learning disability nursing is communication. I know that might sound a bit obvious, but people who have an LD won’t talk to you in the way you are used to. And each of them is different to the next, so their own communication style will be very unique. Going to India and working with people who don’t speak English was a big learning curve for me, it was so useful.”

Although Shelby originally enquired about LD and Child nursing courses with University of Northampton, there was no question as to which one she would sign on the dotted line for: “At College, I studied Health and Social Care and for part of that course I did a placement at an LD School. Every day, I went home and felt so excited and happy to have been there. It wasn’t one thing in particular, but the whole experience. I knew I would choose LD nursing at Northampton – it wasn’t a difficult one to make.”

Learning Disability nursing in the UK celebrates its 100th birthday as a stand-alone field of the profession this year. Shelby, speaking to other, potential LD nurses who might be interested in studying, said: “Rewarding is a word I’d use in a shot to describe LD nursing. The rewards I get are sometimes the simple things – helping people to get themselves ready in the morning, assisting them putting their coat on. You don’t become a nurse for thanks, but seeing them smile and knowing that I’ve helped set them up for the rest of their day is so satisfying.”

Shelby currently works at University partner St. Andrew’s Healthcare as a Healthcare Assistant, but going to India suited her future career plans: “Professionally, I want to experience as much as I can about LD nursing in different settings. A lot of people in my cohort are mature students with strong backgrounds in health care and know where they want to be going. I don’t necessarily want to stick to the same thing, I want to try my hand at different things. Going to India was a great way to get started on that road.”

Find out more about LD Nursing at University of Northampton.