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Aimable Gasana

Learning Disability Nursing - BSc (Hons)

Aimable originally graduated in Business Studies back in 2002. However, after working in a hospital admin role, he learnt about the role of a Learning Disability Nurse and developed a desire to work in healthcare himself. After visiting an Open Day, he fell in love with the course tutors, and credits them with encouraging him to a have a healthy work-life balance.

“I originally went to university back in 2002 and did a degree in Business Studies. When I graduated, I went on to work in an admin role in the NHS at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for 11 years. I was inspired by my colleagues around me and started planning to study a health-related course of my own.  While researching my options and attending an Open Day in 2017, I came across Learning Disability Nursing. I thought nursing would fit well with my family life, and Learning Disability Nursing particularly appealed to me as a member of my own family has learning disabilities.

I’m currently halfway through my course and I’ve already learnt so much and I know there’s still more to come! As someone who had never worked in a healthcare role previously, I have gained a lot of new skills in looking after people with learning disabilities, from supporting them in their own personal care to encouraging them to explore their abilities and empowering them to achieve independence.  I have gained skills in communicating with people who cannot communicate verbally and have learned to use different methods to exchange information with my patients.  This has included learning how to use assistive communication using a mixture of signs, pictures and symbols. I've also taken part in Makaton training sessions for basic signs, which is very useful both at home and in my practice placements.  I am really pleased to have been able to apply some of what I have learnt to communicate with my own family member so it has benefited my personal life as well.

I am so proud that I have completed three practice placements and have received highly encouraging feedback from my mentors. Considering that I had never worked in a healthcare role prior to starting my nursing degree I think I have done well in that regard.

The main challenge I’ve experienced with my degree so far has been balancing work and family commitments. I have children attending school, so I often have to do the school run before attending my lectures, which can be difficult when some lectures have an early start. However, my tutor is so supportive, understanding that sometimes it might be necessary to come in a few minutes late and my lecturers offer extra support for any sessions that I may miss due to family commitments, which is great.

I believe the facilities available have also made my challenges easier, as learning is just so accessible here. The School of Nursing and Midwifery has plenty of support for both academic and clinical skills. Our teachers make all information regarding our subjects available online so we can have access both on and off campus. This means that I can fit my studying around my family commitments. We also have SPACE (Skills Practice and Care Enhancement) which is very useful in practicing clinical skills and sharing knowledge with students from other professions. Our teachers also support peer-to-peer learning where we create support groups in order to help those who might be struggling academically.

Since becoming a student at BCU, I feel that I’m on my way to achieve the knowledge I was hoping for when I decided to go back to university. I have learnt a lot about Nursing in general and Learning Disability Nursing particularly. I feel like I am part of a larger family of professionals, working together to achieve better healthcare for the people we look after.

I believe BCU puts in place everything a student needs to achieve their potential. There are lots of computers for students to have access to internet on site and the library has lots of books for extended learning. The library also offers tutorials in how to search large databases for academic research articles and the Personal Development Department is particularly useful in supporting students in academic writing and critical thinking, which has really helped me throughout my degree.

As a student nurse, my wish for the future is to graduate and receive a Nursing and Midwifery Council PIN to practice as a registered Learning Disability Nurse. Once qualified, however, Learning Disability Nursing offers plenty of career choices and I have recently developed an interest in clinical research, so I’m hoping to study my Master’s in clinical research in learning disabilities sometime in the future.

I AM BCU means that as a Birmingham City University student I am part of a larger family of professionals, all who support and encourage each other throughout their time here.”

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