Advice and development

University challenge

Being a nursing student is challenging. Academic and placement demands can feel overwhelming and the journey to qualification and registration can seem a long and difficult one.

Being a nursing student is challenging. Academic and placement demands can feel overwhelming and the journey to qualification and registration can seem a long and difficult one.

For some nursing students, that journey is made even more challenging because of an underlying specific learning difficulty/difference (SpLD) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or attention deficit disorder (ADD), or a mental health issue.

Students with an SpLD are often anxious about disclosing this because of concern about the reactions of academic and practice staff. But attitudes towards them are changing, partly because people are more aware of the positive attributes common in people who have an SpLD, such as problem solving, empathy, determination and strategic thinking.

Unsocial hours and placement commitments can make it difficult for nursing students to find non-medical support. Access to specialist support is a key factor in determining whether students with a disability or

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Being a nursing student is challenging. Academic and placement demands can feel overwhelming and the journey to qualification and registration can seem a long and difficult one.

For some nursing students, that journey is made even more challenging because of an underlying specific learning difficulty/difference (SpLD) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or attention deficit disorder (ADD), or a mental health issue.

Students with an SpLD are often anxious about disclosing this because of concern about the reactions of academic and practice staff. But attitudes towards them are changing, partly because people are more aware of the positive attributes common in people who have an SpLD, such as problem solving, empathy, determination and strategic thinking.

Unsocial hours and placement commitments can make it difficult for nursing students to find non-medical support. Access to specialist support is a key factor in determining whether students with a disability or SpLD stay on their course and achieve good grades (Equality Challenge Unit 2012).

Nursing students can apply for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) (see box), an NHS bursary, and must provide evidence of disability via a GP, specialist, or a psychologist’s report. An assessment of needs is undertaken to identify the type of support required. A recommendation is then sent to the NHS Business Services Authority. The DSA is awarded to the student, not the university, and students can use the allowance to seek support through student services, or select a service themselves.

For students with a specific learning difficulty/difference, the Disabled Students Allowance covers:

  • Equipment and software allowance.

  • Non-medical helper’s allowance.

  • Study skills tuition.

  • Mentoring for those with mental health issues.

  • Assistive technology training.

 

 

 

Diverse Learners provides online and face-to-face support services for students with SpLD and other needs. It was established as a result of our experiences tutoring and mentoring such students.

 

 

 

The support includes addressing student anxieties, effective study skills, using assistive technology, establishing learning priorities, reading for research, preparing for practice placements, academic writing, and exams and assessment tasks.

 

 

 

Diverse Learners also works in partnership with universities, who refer students to us because of our knowledge of healthcare courses. We use Skype as it offers a variety of flexible arrangements:

 

 

 

  • Screen share, which is ideal to demonstrate assistive software or model study skills such as online literature searches.
  • Video or Instant Message can be left between sessions.
  • No travel time or costs.
  • Materials can be transferred between tutor and student.

  • All voice, video, IM and file transfers are encrypted.

 

 

 

Our flexible approaches are designed to embrace the way students with disabilities learn, address the demands of their courses, and help them become independent, efficient learners.

 

 

 

Find out more

 

 

 

Diverse Learners: www.diverse-learners.co.uk/

 

 

 

Disabled Student Allowance: www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

 

 

 

Equality Challenge Unit in higher education: www.ecu.ac.uk/

 

 

 

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