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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. My course is BSc Learning Disability Nursing Practice. The course is 3 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 Sunderland University as I had noticed old friends on social media discussing the universities nursing programme. 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 did not attend any open days and applied through clearing. I had previously studied another degree at Teesside university and felt the facilities at the University of Sunderland were much better and more up to date in terms of technology. I did have some reservations, for example I was worried that I would struggle with the transition from carer to nurse and that I would struggle with the terminology.

I have found 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 LD nurses is only 15 we all get along well and we can support each other through our studies. The programme leads have been very supportive in terms of understanding the terminology and pinpoint additional resources if we need it to go away and look at. We are also given time to perform 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 have found that with student loans and bursaries, I am no worse off financially. As the course is not all day every day, I balance my work/home life by studying Monday-Friday 9-5 and after that I am a wife and parent. I do not feel disadvantaged as a mature student to that of my 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