Woman realises childhood ambition inspired by her disabled brother and becomes a Learning Disability Nurse

A mum-of-four has realised a dream inspired by her disabled brother and become a qualified nurse.

Abi Powdrell with Oliver (10), Aubrie (8), Mila (5) and Taylor (13). Image: Tom Arran Photography.

Abi Powdrell, 31, decided she wanted to work with people with learning disabilities when she was a teenager, but after becoming pregnant she put her dreams on hold.

Abi was working in care and raising her four children, she had nieces with learning disabilities, and she continued to think about making a difference to people like them

Looking for ways to develop a career she attended a University of Hull Open Day planning to enroll in an adult nursing course, but after learning about our degree course in learning disabilities nursing, she knew she would finally realise her dream.

Abi explained: “My older brother has cerebral palsy and I always wanted to work with people who have learning disabilities because of him. I have nieces with learning disabilities as well and I always thought that we all have a lot to learn from people who have disabilities and that it would be a very special career opportunity. I didn’t know you could specialise in learning disabilities nursing and as soon as I heard about the degree I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

Abi, who has just finished her final placement and will graduate in January, has already been offered a choice of jobs.

She says: “It has been really tough, particularly in the pandemic, but I am not a quitter, and it is an incredibly supportive learning environment. My kids are so proud of me they keep saying, ‘Mummy is going to be a nurse’ and there was no way I was going to let them down. I have loved learning; I have met so many people and so many different experiences.”

Returning to study was tough but rewarding for Abi, who hasn’t been in education since she left school aged 17, having completed a level two in childcare. After attending the Open Day she completed a year-long access course, which offers an alternative route into Health and Social Care for people who don’t quite meet the entry requirements for a degree programme.

The course has also helped Abi understand her own children better, as it was whilst studying she realised her ten-year-old son, Oliver, probably had autism. She says: “It suddenly made sense. He had always seemed different, and he felt like he was different to other children. He has now been diagnosed and he finds that helpful. I don’t think I would have had the skills or knowledge to help him if I hadn’t done the course.”

She added: “I would recommend people to thinking about nursing to find out more, if you have the passion and drive you should go for it, you will gain so much.”

The University of Hull offers a range of degree courses in nursing including Learning Disabilities Nursing, Adult Nursing and Mental Health Nursing.

BSc (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing Course

BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Course

BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing Course