Nurses’ Personal and Professional Experiences of Dyslexia in Lifelong Learning: a Narrative Approach

Major, Rachael Louise (2017). Nurses’ Personal and Professional Experiences of Dyslexia in Lifelong Learning: a Narrative Approach. EdD thesis The Open University.



This study investigated how dyslexia affected qualified nurses’ lifelong learning and how they engaged in professional development; a requirement of registration. It considered the educational and professional experiences of nurses and lecturers who had supported registered nurses with dyslexia.

A qualitative, in-depth, narrative lifecourse approach was used with participants across Great Britain. The initial study informed the conduct of the main study and interview questions. The main study involved fourteen registered nurses and nine lecturers recruited purposefully through posters and Twitter. Semi-structured interviews were conducted either face-to-face, by telephone or using Skype. Data were analysed using template analysis and validated by the participants using asynchronous online discussion forums.

The analysis of the data identified that dyslexia affected nurses in their professional capacity, as well as affecting their learning. The findings further identified how nurses developed compensatory strategies both personally and in practice seeking to overcome negative learning experiences. Transitions were particularly problematic, either between
academic levels or practice areas. Disclosure of dyslexia was dependent on supportive relationships. However, patient safety was seen as paramount. Lecturers recognised that early identification of dyslexia was important to enable appropriate support and reasonable adjustments, but is dependent on recognition of dyslexia.

The findings of the nurses’ and lecturers’ data were used to develop a conceptual framework to illustrate how both personal and professional development overlap but are also influenced by psychological and social factors. Recommendations from the study note that professional development is required for lecturers to ensure early recognition and support for nurses with dyslexia, along with early formative assessment of written work at university. However, education beyond initial training also needs to take account of the personal impacts of dyslexia and the effects of transitions should be factored into inclusive assessment strategies and support available.

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