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Learning disability students’ virtual internship helps build network and boost confidence

Nursing students improve their experience by running Twitter chats and dealing with health professionals at all levels 

Nursing students improve their experience by running Twitter chats and dealing with health professionals at all levels 


Picture: iStock

Two third-year learning disability nursing students have benefitted from a ‘virtual internship’ with an online community of learning disability nurses, which has helped boost their confidence and develop good working relationships.

Paula Richardson from the University of South Wales and Ian Unitt from the University of Wolverhampton took an internship with WeLDNurses while studying at the same time. They are supported by the WeLDNurses team throughout the year via monthly telephone calls.

Hosting chats

Running for the past four years, the virtual internship involves hosting Twitter chats, choosing the chat topics, writing the Twitter chat outline and the summary.

Ms Richardson said: ‘I’ve developed a lot more confidence when talking to people. There is no hierarchy on Twitter – I can be talking to consultant nurses and top professionals as if they were on the same level as me.

‘I needed a paper for an assignment and I quickly asked "so and so". If you have an issue and you want to discuss it, the WeLDNurses internship has that network.’ 

Paula Hopes, learning disability nurse consultant at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and former senior lecturer at USW, supported Ms Richardson with her application: ‘Ms Richardson brought back specific information that students updated their Twitter board with.

‘It’s about getting staff and students more aware of the benefits of Twitter.’

Raised profile


Ian Unitt

Ms Hopes added: ‘Having a learning disability nursing student involved raises the profile of the profession and of the university.’

Mr Unitt agreed: ‘To be able to bounce ideas off each other has been invaluable for me.

‘I’m in the middle of my final-year dissertation and people that I’m writing the research paper on are available to me.’

WeLDNurses’ next internship opportunity will launch at the Positive Choices Conference 2019 at Birmingham City University on 25 and 26 April


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