Last week we congratulated Lynsey, Lisa and Robyn on successfully graduating and becoming the first cohort of Learning Disability Nurses whose studies have been funded by our organisation.
This week, Lynsey talks us through her journey to becoming a nurse, including the worries and disappointments of studying during the pandemic. Her story joins the many others we have published in 2020 for the 'Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ where we celebrate the diverse roles and people in the nursing profession who work for Devon Partnership NHS Trust.
Here is Lynsey's story:
"I did it! I have qualified as a learning disability nurse, something I never thought would happen.
"I have always wanted to work with individuals with a learning disability.
"As a teenager, I helped out at a day centre and the local Gateway club. I started my journey working for Devon Partnership NHS Trust in 1995 in a Local Support Unit as a house parent. My plan was to complete my nurse training after I had gained some experience. I was accepted onto my learning disability nurse training in 2000 at Plymouth University but found out I was pregnant with my first son, so declined the place.
"The years rolled on and the opportunity never presented itself again. Redesigns of the service came and went, moving roles through the process. Then, in 2016 I applied for the Assistant Practitioners Foundation degree with the Open University, funded by Devon Partnership NHS Trust and was successful. Never did I think that would lead on to being seconded to the University of the West of England to complete my degree in my mid-forties, but it did!
"My university journey has not been an easy one with adapting to academic writing and endless research. However, it’s a journey that has expanded my knowledge and understanding. Placements have been invaluable with the chance to work in areas of the organisation I never thought I would. Some placements that I was allocated I was worried about, such as Langdon hospital. However, these have been the most rewarding and supportive, thanks to my mentor, Liz. Furthermore, having the opportunity to work on general wards in our District hospital was challenging but I very much appreciated the experience. I thank my mentors who took me under their wings and guided me on my journey, sharing their own experiences and knowledge.
"The last few months have been tough for us all, having to adapt not only to a new working life but our home lives too, due to the pandemic. I finished my final placement in front of a computer at home, not at all how I wanted it. I didn’t have the option to opt into practice like many student nurses, as I was classed as a critical shielder due to being hospitalised for eight days at Christmas with the flu! So, I ended my student journey in my lounge at home and started my new role as a nurse there too. Social media has been helpful during this time, using twitter as a platform to keep in contact and grow a professional network within the organisation and nationally.
"I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to train as a nurse on a course funded by Devon Partnership NHS Trust and to embark on this never ending journey of learning and development – it’s such a rewarding and diverse organisation.
"There are two people I’d like to thank as without their support I would not have got to the finish line. They are my fellow student nurses Lisa and Robyn. Thanks ladies for the long days on the M5 travelling to university, the laughs and the tears but we did it!!!! I’m so proud to be a Learning Disability Nurse.