Promoting Learning Disability Nursing (LDN) at every opportunity is just one of the reasons Katie Siddall has been shortlisted for a prestigious Student Nursing Times Award.
Throughout her three years at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Katie's caring attitude and positive interactions with placement staff, service users and their families have been noted.
Katie with her boyfriend and fellow graduate Tom Stewart-Williams
As a result, the "outstanding student ambassador" received the Philip Hammersley Award at her graduation ceremony in January.
Now she is in the running for the title of Student Nurse of the Year: Learning Disabilities - recognition of her achievements on a national level.
Katie said: "I was nominated for the DMU award by my personal tutor, Senior Lecturer Jillian Pawlyn. I was shocked and proud.
"She suggested I should apply for the Nursing Times award because of all I have done. It was hard, as I had to submit a 1,500-word essay. I spoke about my role as a Brand Ambassador - representing the course at Open Days and external recruitment events - as well as my job and supporting my peers.
"It's great being shortlisted. I can include it in my personal statement and professional portfolio and it could help going for a more specialist role. It's also good to engage with your professional world."
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Katie, who graduated with a First, has been working as a LDN on the Children's Intensive Care Unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary since November.
"I love it," she said. "It's a clinical role so different to what I've done but I am very well supported.
"I find myself working with a lot of children with learning disabilities and I can supply that support for them and their families."
It is the very fact that this role is out of her comfort zone that led Katie to choose it, as she was offered all six jobs she applied for.
Employability was among the reasons Katie decided to train as a nurse at DMU. Having originally wanted to be a teacher, she changed her mind after a trip to Nepal to teach schoolchildren English.
Having also volunteered at a special school while studying A-levels in her home town of Mansfield, Katie decided she could go into something like LDN.
"I applied to various universities and nursing courses but I hated all of the interviews apart from DMU," she said. "Richard Postance interviewed me and was just so nice and I could tell he had taken the time to read my personal statement.
"That was the big difference and what I always say to prospective students."
Katie in New York with #DMUglobal
In addition to her academic studies and placements, Katie spent her time at DMU helping others. She became a Dementia Friend, volunteered with healthy eating initiative Fridge Raiders, joined the Contemporary Health Society and, in her final year, acted as a peer mentor.
The 21-year-old also flew to New York with #DMUglobal to help with her dissertation on supporting people with learning difficulties to have a positive self-identity with sexuality.
Having formed lifelong friendships with classmates, Katie is still in touch with the staff she worked with during placements as well as her DMU tutors and continues to support at Open Days.
"I feel close to DMU because I have all these relationships," she added.
Katie will head to London next month for an interview with the awards judging panel, finding out if she has won at a ceremony on 26 April. Joining her will be DMU's Katie Dutton and Jon Bousie, who have been shortlisted in the Inspirational Student and Mental Health Nursing categories respectively.
Posted on Monday 5th March 2018