The perfect career as a Learning Disability Nurse
Diverse nursing roles can steer you far from the vision of a nurse in uniform caring for patients at their bedside within a Hospital setting. Graduate Shaheen Ratansi tells her story of the journey she has taken to find her perfect degree, starting a career in a supportive and empowering role as a Learning Disability Nurse.
“I never wanted to be a nurse… My mum was a health care professional and the last thing ever wanted to do was be her. I loved arts and buildings, I was fascinated by buildings when I was little so decided to do architecture. Got into University, withdrew my application and then I decided I wanted to change the world and that’s because I did youth projects on raising awareness of homelessness and human trafficking in Birmingham. We were the voice for these people and we were trying to raise an awareness to make people in our communities to understand how vulnerable they are and what we can do to support them to improve their quality of life.
That’s what led to my next degree in international development. I started it, Six months down the line I thought, no, it’s just not for me. So I dropped out again. So that was kind of a cycle in our household with me. I ended up volunteering in Africa and growing up I was born in Tanzania.
My aunty I think she is the main reason why I got into nursing, as she was little different from me and you. But to us she was no different, she communicated in a different way and she was like my sister, my best friend.
Unfortunately when my grandma passed away, my aunty closed off the world. She was very sad, she couldn’t express emotions and that led to her having a very traumatic death and it was very hard to overcome that.
So, after volunteering and being there, I came back and decided I needed to do something. My brother helped me to research because I wanted to work with people with learning disabilities but I didn’t want to be a teacher having worked in schools before.
First year was a challenge. I failed every assignment out there, but I persevered and that was mainly because of the people I cared for and how vulnerable they are and what challenges they face; motivated me to get there. I thought I am not going to quit now, I want to help people, to be an advocate for them.
My most memorable experience was in my second place, a lady unfortunately deteriorated she wanted to have some space in a side room so I spoke to a nurse and we managed to get a side room for her. She didn’t cry and she didn’t talk to anyone about her knowing she had less than two weeks to live. One day I was just talking to her and I gave her hug and then she looked at me and said Shai, ‘I’m going to die” it ended up with both of us in tears because I’m an emotional wreck as well. At that point she started to talk to me and tell me her most memorable experience in life, the silliest thing that she’s done, the happiest she’s been, and that’s when she went home.
To reflect back to my Aunty I think that’s what I wanted, someone to be there for her, someone to listen to her, someone to understand her needs, somebody to be her voice when she was at that vulnerable state.
Now, a couple of months to qualify, I am very terrified, but I am excited and I want to be that nurse that will listen to people, and that’s why I chose Learning Disability nursing.”