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Penny Smith

Penny Smith

Learning Disability Nursing

I see my career as having been in two parts. I spent 18 years as a community learning disability nurse and there were many highlights in that role, but I think it’s some of the work I did with service users, particularly working with families of children who had just been diagnosed, over a number of years and seeing the child develop, it was that long term work that I did that I really enjoyed. Coming into university was the second part of my career. Seeing the students in the first year, they’re quite a different group of people from all sorts of ages and cultures, and then seeing them at graduation a couple of years later as nurses, that’s a major highlight.

One of the things I like to encourage in our programme is to get students to become involved in the LD nursing community. It’s a fairly small profession in terms of numbers so it’s good to network and be linked up with everyone else, to avoid feeling isolated. It’s a smaller group of students so they all get to know and support each other, they are really good at that. We were lucky enough to recently host the Positive Choices conference 10h annivery – conference that’s run for LD students and they attend from across the UK and Ireland. 750 students came the year we hosted.

What students say they enjoy most about the LD course in their evaluations is the opportunity to work with the service users. They appreciate the time they spend with them and what they learn from them, families and carers.