Learning disability nurse

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Learning disability nurses help people with a learning disability to live as independently as possible.

Salary range: £24,214 to £37,267

How to become a learning disability nurse

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

University

You can do a degree in learning disability nursing approved by the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Some degree courses let you study another area of nursing alongside learning disability nursing.

You may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course if you already have a degree in:

  • a health-related subject
  • psychology
  • life sciences
  • social work

Full-time courses usually take 3 years.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, including a science, or a level 3 diploma or access to higher education in health, science or nursing

More information

Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a degree apprenticeship in nursing if you work in a healthcare setting like a hospital.

The apprenticeship takes around 4 years and is a mix of academic study and on-the-job training.

You must be supported by your employer to take this route.

Entry requirements

To do this apprenticeship, you’ll need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship

More information

Volunteering and experience

You’ll find it helpful to get some paid or voluntary experience in social care or healthcare work before you apply for nurse training.

More information

Registration

Career tips

It’s possible to do a degree in learning disabilities nursing and social work. You’ll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies. Course providers can advise you on this.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a learning disability nurse from the Nursing & Midwifery Council and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties might include giving practical help and encouragement with:

  • personal hygiene
  • dressing
  • using public transport
  • going on shopping trips
  • leisure interests or community activities
  • making and attending appointments
  • finding a job

Working environment

You could work in the community, at an adult care home, at a client’s home or in an NHS or private hospital.

Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With further study and experience you could become an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or nurse consultant. Consultants work directly and independently with patients, carry out research and develop and deliver training.

You could lead a team of nurses in a residential setting or manage a learning disability unit. You could also move into other management roles, like community matron or director of nursing.

You could also go on to train as a health visitor.

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