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Nurse Consultant Learning Disabilities

Clinical Practice
Career Pathway

Career Directions

  • Clinical Practice
  • Quality Improvement
  • Research & Development
  • Education
  • Policy/Strategy Development

Area of Practice

  • Learning Disability Nursing


  • Community/Primary Care

Job/Role Summary

  • Shared responsibility for leading the development of nurses and nursing practice within the specialty of Learning Disability.
  • To provide expert advice to other professionals, multi-disciplinary groups, patients and their carers.
  • To contribute to the operational and strategic developments relating to learning disability.
  • Responsibility for maintaining and enhancing professional standards of care across the whole spectrum of learning disability.
  • Establishing partnerships and a common purpose across agencies, in accordance with the aims of the Regional Strategy for Health.
  • To develop excellence in clinical practice.
  • To provide regional leadership to the Learning Disability nursing profession.
  • To act as a consultancy resource providing accessible, accurate and relevant information to people with learning disability, carers and health and social care professionals, and have an impact upon care locally, nationally and internationally.


Specific qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria Job specifications vary from location to location, but generally it is expected that the nurse consultant:

  • Is registered on the appropriate part of the NMC register
  • Is educated to at least Masters level
  • Has a minimum of 5 years clinical experience at F/G grade, with evidence of post-registration qualifications in your particular field.

Desirable criteria may include such things as:

  • Ability to demonstrate effective leadership
  • Evidence of research application in practice
  • Has demonstrated innovation in practice and/or service development.


Career Milestones

I believe that all the positions I have held since commencing my career in nursing back in 1981 have had an impact with regard to where I find myself at this point in time. A nurse consultant position embraces and involves elements of clinical practice, education, research, management and leadership, and my nursing career to date has resulted in me holding dedicated posts in most of these areas. It is this combination of experiences that has influenced me most, rather than one specific post or initiative, and in my view has made me better equipped to take on the challenges of a role with such varied components attached to it. Two other factors are worthy of note here. Firstly, I have tended to be influenced by people (role models) more than anything else, which serves as a reminder that we can all be a role model to others. We all have the opportunity to influence the career development and pathways of those we work with. Secondly, I have been greatly influenced by my involvement with the NMC as part of its Fitness to Practice Department, and believe that more practicing nurses should seek out developmental opportunities such as these.


Enjoyable aspects of the job/role

  • Seeing the profile of learning disability nursing raised, locally, regionally and nationally.
  • Having the opportunity to influence strategy, policy development and service provision at a local and regional level
  • The freedom to develop the role.


Important success factors

  • I established a multi-disciplinary cross-agency steering group at the outset to guide and support me in developing and profiling the role.
  • Mentorship/supervision is crucial and I would suggest that this be with someone who is working at a similar or higher level and is prepared to challenge as well as support.
  • Ensure that you do not lose the work / life balance.


Advice for those considering the type of job/role?

First of all, find some who will mentor, support and counsel you as well as challenge you. Someone you respect and whose opinions you value. This position is hard work, never routine, and often results in you challenging practice and policy and often at a senior level. You must have the passion, courage, conviction and confidence to do this, and have the evidence / arguments to defend your stance. Be prepared for the isolation factor. A nurse consultant position, by its nature, falls outside of usual 'teams and structures' and this separation is important, but can also be extremely lonely at times. Seek out and find champions in a variety of areas/positions who share your views and who can help and support you in what you are trying to achieve. Have the passion and potential to influence others.


Key skills that can be gained within this job/role?

  • As a nurse consultant you are expected to have a strong focus on direct clinical care and the provision of clinical support, guidance and consultancy to others. Therefore the most significant skill development to date has been my clinical skills within Learning Disability nursing.
  • I have also gained skills of leadership, how to influence others, political and strategic awareness, communicating effectively (particularly at senior and strategic level) which in turn has enhanced my self confidence and self-belief.
  • An important aspect of this role centers around doing and disseminating research, and my skills in this area have notably improved.
  • Improved teaching / public speaking skills
  • Skills of Practice Development and facilitating others
  • Considerable knowledge development across the full spectrum of learning disability.


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