Celebrating the next generation of learning disability nurses

In the year that learning disability nursing celebrates its centenary, the next generation of learning disability nurses are starting their careers.

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BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) graduates were among the thousands of students graduating from Teesside University.

Marie Pullan was among this year’s cohort to graduate from degree in the University’s School of Health & Social Care.

Marie, a community nurse with Tees, Esk Wear Valley NHS Trust, was asked to give the valedictory speech at her graduation ceremony. She said: 'It was terrifying, but I am so pleased I did it. In the speech I spoke about the pressures and scrutiny facing the nursing industry today.

'It is also pretty special to be graduating the same year as the 100 year anniversary of learning disability nursing. There has been so much positive change, with the care which is provided changing massively. People with a learning disability are seen more as individuals.'

Marie added: 'Teesside was the only university I applied to do the degree, as it was the only place I wanted to study.

'I previously worked as a support worker for people with learning difficulties and met a lot of student nurses and there was always a lot of high regard for those who had studied at Teesside University.'

Pam Wheeler, Senior Lecturer in Learning Disabilities Nursing in the School of Health & Social Care, said: 'The role of the learning disability nurse is so important, but not a lot of people understand what the role involves and the amount of support which is provided to families along with the individuals too.

'The role of the learning disability nurse has changed massively over the years. It is now much more community based, with learning disability nurses now providing a range of specialist support to help people with a learning disability live a fulfilling life.'

She added: 'All of our graduates are amazing and their enthusiasm is lovely to see.'

Dr Marie Gressmann, who this year moves on from her University role as Senior Lecturer in Learning Disabilities Nursing, added: 'One of the best decision I ever made was to be a learning disability nurse. I feel privileged to have worked in this field of nursing for so long.

'I spent 22 years working as a learning disability nurse in many different capacities, before coming to the University in 1999, so it has been over 40 years and I still feel as passionate today about our field of nursing.

'It has been a fulfilling, happy career and I have some wonderful memories. It is lovely to see the next generation of learning disability nurses coming through who are committed to making things better in the future.'

22 July 2019