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Being a mature student at Sunderland

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Published: December 13, 2021

My name is Dawn Spearman and I am a second year mature student, studying for the BSc (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing Practice course. The course is three years long and when I graduate and become a registered nurse I will be 35 years old.

Two female students walking through the library

I chose to study at Sunderland as I had noticed old friends on social media discussing the University's nursing courses. These students went on to become adult nurses, but I knew being a learning disability nurse was the right career for me. I had seen too many episodes of poor practice in my old job as a care assistant to not try and influence future practice.

I didn't attend any open days, but applied through Clearing. I had previously studied another degree at a different university, but I felt the facilities at Sunderland were much better and more up to date in terms of technology. I did have some reservations – for example, I was worried about the transition from carer to nurse and concerned that I would struggle with the terminology.

I soon discovered that both of these worries were unfounded. I feel very supported and have developed a close circle of friends within my cohort. As the entire cohort of learning disability nurses is only 15, we all get along well and we can support each other through our studies. The Programme Leaders have been very supportive in terms of helping us to understand the terminology and pinpointing additional resources if we need them. We are also given time to undertake additional reading at the end of most lectures to allow for consolidation of our learning.

I have made the decision to remain at home whilst I study as I have a husband and family to support. This has made the transition to university slightly easier as I could still be an active member of the household. I was apprehensive that leaving a comfortably paid job to become a student would have a negative effect on my finances, but I've found that with student loans and bursaries, I am no worse off financially. Teaching on the course doesn't happen all day every day, so I balance my work and home life by studying Monday to Friday 9-5, and outside that time, I am a wife and parent. I don't feel disadvantaged as a mature student compared to the younger members of my cohort. We are all treated equally and with respect.

Student ambassador Dawn

Dawn Spearman
BSc (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing

Topic: Course