Diary of a Newly Qualified Learning Disability Nurse (One Month In!).

Here we are again, I have been an actual bonafide Registered #RNLD for a month now and it feels no less amazing. It has, however, been extremely hard work and more than a little bit overwhelming at times. The workload is heavy, the responsibility is huge, and there are just not enough hours in a day! I am very thankful to the people that are working alongside me for providing me with guidance, sharing their wisdom and experience, and for being patient with me while I learn the ropes.


After spending the first two weeks as a supernumerary, it has been all hands to deck, and I have had to hit the floor running. I am now the primary nurse for a new patient at the clinic and I’ve had to start from the very beginning. I have spent the last four weeks, building a relationship and getting to know this gentleman (as well as the other fourteen patients of course!). We have written care plans together, worked on risk assessments, developed hospital passports, prepared for a CPA review, and filled out more paperwork than I ever imagined existed. It is an endless process and massively time-consuming if it’s done properly. Care planning is such an important part of the job, and getting it right is essential if it’s going to be meaningful, person-centered and reflective of somebody’s current needs.


I have really felt the pressure trying to get everything done and putting things in to place, around carrying out the other many duties of a staff nurse in a learning disability forensic service. It has been a great learning curve though and I am feeling more confident, and more ‘useful’ on a daily basis. The days are just flying by and even though the days are thirteen hours long, it seems that I find myself going home what seems like minutes after arriving at work (often with my lunch uneaten in my bag).

The secret is to look at everything in a positive manner – I found myself talking to a senior nurse and a doctor yesterday and I was explaining how much pressure I was feeling in getting all of the paperwork done, and how difficult it was starting everything from scratch. They reminded me that I did not have to get everything done straight away, and also that it’s actually a great opportunity for me to be able to develop my skills, increase my knowledge and to be able to better understand the needs of the patient. They were obviously right, and I realised that I have been putting way too much pressure on myself. It’s always been a problem of mine.


As for the rest of the job – I am really enjoying the challenge. the areas of my practice that I had highlighted as ‘in need of improvement’ are improving, and the gaps I had highlighted in my knowledge base are slowly getting filled. I am making a real effort on medication rounds to identify any medications I am unsure of and to research them in order to fully understand what they do and how they work – this is going really well. The learning will never stop, and it’s important that we take responsibility for our own development. This in itself is an overwhelming thought – the last month has taught me just how much I still have to learn!!

I’m sure that I am not the only NQN feeling the pressure getting to grips with the role and I really don’t want this blog to sound negative – it’s not my aim. I am just trying to highlight the fact that the real learning starts after you leave University, and the knowledge and experience you gain in those three years is just a foundation for the career that you choose to build. It’s also evident that ‘building’ in the nursing profession is carried out as a team and we need to utilise the knowledge and experience of those around us. Nobody knows it all.



I am going to finish up now and I am going to leave you on two positives:

  1. I picked up my first nursing wage this week. I have been able to afford to heat my flat and I’m contemplating being extravagant and turning my water heater back on. I’ve even bought items out of Tesco that were not reduced or part of the ‘no frills range’.
  2. I attended an interview with The RCN in London last week for a position on The Learning Disability Forum Steering Committee and I am delighted to say that I was offered the position. It’s a real honour and I can’t wait to get started at the start of 2020.


Until next time,

Ian 🙂



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1 thought on “Diary of a Newly Qualified Learning Disability Nurse (One Month In!).

  1. There’s certainly a lot to learn about this topic.
    I like all the points you’ve made.


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