Jane Iorizzo is in her 3rd year studying learning disability nursing and she talks to us about her course and career ambitions. About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

I understand you’re a ‘combined degree student’. Where are you studying, and what is the title of the course?

I am studying a degree in Learning Disability Nursing. I am in my 3rd year at the University of Hertfordshire.

Could you tell me about your Degree? (What does it teach you, what vocation(s) does it aim to prepare you for and how is it taught - theoretical / practical - Can you explain the course for those who may be considering a nursing or social care related degree course?)

When I finish my course in June this year, I will be qualified as a band 5 learning disability nurse. The course is 50% theory and 50% practice. Our placements help us to put what is learnt in theory into practice, for example, health promotion activities, and teach us how to work in accordance to our governing bodies and legal requirements.

After the first year where all nursing branches learn the core knowledge and skills together, you branch off and there are two long placements a year. Mine have been an assessment and treatment unit, a forensic ward, a community team and a day centre. The theory is taught in lectures and module content includes inter-professional working, legal and ethical aspects, therapeutics, research and management.

Where would you like to take your career when you finish your degree? And can you tell us what it is about that sector of the industry that interests you?

When I qualify I would like to work in the forensic area to initially gain experience, however I have the long term goal of working as part of a community learning disability team. I have a massive interest in the forensic side of learning disabilities and offending behaviour. I am currently writing a research proposal in the area of re offending and support in probation services for those with learning disabilities and this has probably made me more enthusiastic to work in this area. Placements are very influential in the decisions of where you will work in the future and as I especially enjoyed my community placement, I look forward to hopefully being part of a team like that in the future.

What first got you interested in social care as a career?

I studied a national diploma in health and social care at college with the original plan of working with the elderly who have dementia, and so was considering mental health nursing as a possibility. While I was at college I did a placement at a special needs school and loved it! I got a job as a home support worker for children with learning disabilities and autism, met one of their community nurses and decided that learning disability nursing was definitely for me.

Do you feel there are plenty of social care job opportunities for you out there at the moment?

I am not overly worried about the amount of jobs available at the moment as mentors and tutors do not seem to think that we’ll struggle to find employment. I have been told that in learning disability nursing it is a lot about who you know so networking throughout the course will hopefully prove helpful. I think that this is why most students tend to apply at old placements where their competencies are known. In Hertfordshire you can apply for rotation, which means you would work for about 6 months somewhere before moving on, much like another placement, and think this may help students to find jobs.

Are you enjoying your degree course and nurse training? What is it that you enjoy about it and is it what you expected?

I enjoy my course, and I definitely think that the placements make it because when you are stressed and run down they remind you of the people you are studying to help and why you originally started. You get to meet some brilliant staff and clients while out on placement, which is always nice. Some of the course content I would have expected, but some modules, for example research, I would not have. I can see the importance of research now, but before you start nursing it would not be something that you would necessarily have thought of as a nursing role. The course involves a lot of hard work, but for me having supportive course mates has really helped.

Do you know where you can go to find social care jobs?

As students we often hear of vacancies through word of mouth whilst out on placements or from tutors. Websites like yours are helpful too. Most people think of NHS jobs - so perhaps more advertising in universities would help you guys!