Nicola Dryden

Learning Disability Nursing BSc (Hons)

View the course
  • Year of study: Third year
  • Length of course: Three years

Your University Journey

Why did you decide to study at the University of Northampton?

The University of Northampton is close to home and I have friends at the University who gave positive reports about their experience there. Working on the maternity ward at Milton Keynes, a lot of the student nurses came from the University of Northampton.

What are your career goals/aspirations?

I want to make a positive difference in the learning disability field and go as far as I can as a learning disability nurse.

How do you think your studies will help your career or personal development when you graduate?

My studies taught me a lot about the importance of research and being evidence-based in my practice. The experience I gained from placement was priceless – meeting residents and patients with different levels of needs and dependence. That will give me insight on how to deal with patients in the future.

Which, if any, skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree do you feel will be most useful in your future career?

Research – I can do this a lot better. How to use longer technical words. Effective communication.

Your placement

Does your course offer a placement?

Yes, I’ve been on many placements during my course. They were mainly at institutions for a variety of special needs, like special needs schools or residential homes, where I was normally a form of student nurse. This would involve overseeing patients, residents or students, accompanying the service user and observing the normal working of the institution. Where relevant, I would assist in the administration of medicine with a qualified nurse, watching as they administered it, and writing and updating notes.

Please describe how your placement benefitted you?

I gained experience, confidence and insight dealing with service users with various levels of intellectual disabilities. Working with patients with complex needs was an eye-opener and much needed experience. It taught me a lot about nonverbal communication and how much can be expressed with minimal spoken language. I saw that having a learning disability doesn’t necessarily make a person helpless and that some have a lot of independence.

What employability skills did you develop during your placement?

Effective communication; making a care plan; how to research.

How do you think the placement will help you with gaining employment after graduating?

One of the placements will be at the hospital I’m hoping to work at. Making a good impression by being industrious, proactive and conscientious will help me gain an advantage.

Do you have any tips on applying for or getting the most benefit from your placement?

Use your initiative. Communicate as much as is realistically possible. Ask questions. Be open to correction.

Extra-curricular activities

Are you currently involved in any community or volunteering projects?

Yes, I run a ‘stay ‘n’ play’ club at my daughter’s school. It’s for the SEN department which she is in and includes the students and their parents. I created a WhatsApp group for parents to communicate and socialise – I’ve arranged outings for the parents and students, and we invite each other to events. I provide support for parents who may feel alone dealing with their autistic child(ren) and offer advice and tips for where they can get further help and assistance.

Your advice

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this career path or anything you wish you had known earlier?

If you are struggling in your studies, seek help as soon as you can, as there are many resources at the University that can help you.

In ten words, or less how would you summarise your UON experience?