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Epilepsy Specialist Nurse, Learning Disabilities Services

Clinical Practice
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Clinical Practice

Area of Practice

  • Learning Disability Nursing


  • Community/Primary Care

Job/Role Summary

The Epilepsy Specialist Nurse (ESN) works with multiple disciplines and agencies to maintain and improve the quality of life of people who have a learning disability and have epilepsy. Epilepsy should be a core part of the role all Registered Nurses Learning Disability (RNLD); the RNLD nurse and the (ESN) role are not exclusive. In addition to the clinical role the ESN is pivotal in disseminating a greater understanding of the condition through the provision of training, information, guidance and advice, to the person with a learning disability, their families and carers. Furthermore the ESN role incorporates practice, service development and audit across the learning disability nursing service.


Specific qualifications and experience required

I qualified as a Registered General Nurse (RGN) in 1984; having worked as a RGN for two years I then commenced a post registration course in Learning Disabilities nursing and qualified as a Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities (RNLD) in 1988. Post qualification I gained experience in the hospital environment and a community children’s learning disabilities respite facility before gaining a Community Learning Disability Nurse (CLDN) post in 1990. In 2004 I secured my current post as Epilepsy Specialist Nurse in Learning Disability Services which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

While working as a CLDN I obtained a Certificate in Community Nursing (predecessor of the Specialist Practice Qualification) in 1993 and in 1995 completed the BSc Hon Professional Development in Nursing. Since taking up the position of Epilepsy Specialist Nurse I have completed the Diploma in Epilepsy Care, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and the Independent and Supplementary Prescribing course.


Career Milestones

In 1990 the Community Learning Disabilities Nursing service was in its infancy: it was interesting to see the development of this service as was playing a key part in the development of the Epilepsy Specialist Nursing Service not only within our own Trust but regionally through the Regional Epilepsy Nursing Forum.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

Being in a “specialist” role allows you to focus on one area in which you are able to develop your knowledge and expertise. Specialist knowledge is acquired through postgraduate study/ courses but more importantly through the experience of working with individuals who have epilepsy and learning disability, their families and support staff as well as working with experts in the field of epilepsy. The opportunity to work directly with people with Learning Disabilities participating in a specialised epilepsy educational programme is particularly enjoyable.


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

As stated the management of epilepsy is a core part of the role of the RNLD. Irrespective of the particular position the RNLD holds I would encourage nurses to take every opportunity to further develop their knowledge and skills to best support individuals who have learning disabilities and have epilepsy. There are many Post registration and eLearning courses are available to facilitate this.


The Learning Disability Epilepsy Specialist Nurse Competency Framework is a useful tool to help individual nurses develop their competencies and assist those responsible for LD nursing service development:




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