A learning disability nursing student's personal development through Positive Choices

We’re keen to give our students as many options as possible to develop as people including opportunities outside of their courses and standard placements. We spoke to Learning Disability Nursing student, Kat James, who not only took up a Go Abroad scholarship to travel to Vietnam last year, but also volunteered to be part of the group of Learning Disability Nursing students who travelled to Dublin for the 2018 Positive Choices conference.

LD nurses at the airport

As we begin our celebrations for 100 years of Learning Disability (LD) Nurses – and therefore better support and care for people who have learning disabilities – we’re looking forward to hosting the 2019 Positive Choices conference here at the University. We spoke to Kat to find out how attending last year’s conference has helped her personal development.

“Last year I flew to Ireland with a group of fellow learning disability nurses for Positive Choices 2018, hosted by Dublin Trinity College. Along with Amy Turton, Emily Churchill, Melissa Angrave and Charlotte Smith, I had volunteered to present at the conference and represent BCU in the handover from Trinity College. This meant we had to stand up and speak to over 100 people and tell them why BCU was the place to come for Positive Choices 2019. While the five of us spoke, all the other the conference delegates from Birmingham stood on the stage in support.

Now to say I’m not the most confident of people is an understatement! Before starting university I wouldn’t have dared put myself forward for this but since starting my degree I have quickly learnt that sometimes you must push yourself out of that comfort zone. I can truly say it’s been the best thing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared but the feeling afterwards left me with a real sense of achievement. Doing things out my comfort zone has enabled me to grow as a person; I’m not scared to chat with people I don’t know and ask for advice or help. I don’t think twice about putting myself forward for something new and presenting to 100 people. If it’s one piece of advice I could give anyone is push yourself to do that one thing you don’t want to do because you’ll feel amazing once you’ve done it. 

LD nurses in Ireland

This year BCU is hosting Positive Choices 2019 and I want to be a part of this as much as possible so I’ve put myself forward to help where I can. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside my fellow learning disability colleagues from across all years of the course as well as working with university staff. 

What I’ve enjoyed the most is the fact we’ve been able to work as one big team to make sure we do our best for Positive Choices 2019. My ideas have been taken on board which has boosted my confidence. I’ve been given the opportunity to help others where it’s been needed, and I’ve received support when I’ve had other commitments such as assignment deadlines!

Building on my team-working skills has helped me realise that I’m a good team player and I can become a great leader going forward into my nursing career. This goes hand in hand with the networking opportunities which have arisen helping with the conference. Meeting other like-minded professionals has enabled me to build on my current knowledge and given me a network to further build on this knowledge. I can’t wait for the conference at the end of April to show the learning disability nursing community what a positive choice BCU was to be the host in such a special year for our profession!

LD nursing students

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