Currell, Karen (2008) The academic Experiences of student Nurses who are dyslexic. A small scale phenomenological, explorative study. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfeild.

Objective: To explore the academic experiences of student nurses with a formal diagnosis of dyslexia, in order to contribute to a gap in knowledge and to improve the support offered to student nurses who are dyslexic.

Design: This is a qualitative study, taking a phenomenological, hermeneutical approach. Semi- structured in depth interviews were conducted with student nurses who were dyslexic.

Setting: Population consisted of three final year student nurses and one second year student nurse all studying in a North of England University.

Participants: Participants were drawn from two branches of nursing – adult and mental health. All were 21 years or over and all had been formally assessed as dyslexic.

Findings: All participants reported extremely negative experiences of primary and secondary school education. This contrasted with the largely positive experiences of higher education. Despite indications of dyslexia at primary and secondary school, all were diagnosed as dyslexic in adulthood. In all cases, the personal tutor identified a problem and correctly signposted for assessment. A diagnosis of dyslexia was for all no surprise and brought relief from their self- perceptions of unintelligence. Despite diagnosis, self-esteem and self-worth was significantly affected. This manifested in many feelings of being dyslexic including: Fear; isolation; frustration; panic and of feeling unworthy. Many exceptional and noteworthy talents and abilities were identified in the participants such as: exceptional work ethic; creativity and imagination. Abilities such as perception, intutition and empathy were evident. Participants developed and utilised many innovative coping strategies in order to achieve academically. Participants had a great capacity for humour, were self- aware, intelligent and articulate.

Conclusions: Dyslexia affects individuals differently. Dyslexia is a complex and inconsistent collection of difficulties and disabilities, as well as abilities and talents. Dyslexia appears to be poorly identified and managed in many primary and secondary schools. Dyslexia has a marked emotional and academic impact on those affected. Low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness abound. Participants transformed their difficulties into abilities and talents by determination, ingenuity and courage. Given the appropriate support and encouragement nurses diagnosed as dyslexic nurses can achieve to a high academic level.


1. Universities should forge greater links with primary and secondary schools to allow greater opportunities for cross fertilisation of best practice and knowledge.

2. Training should be given, preferably mandatory, to all teachers whether in primary, secondary or tertiary education on the identification, support and impact of dyslexia.

3. Although, Universities advocate pedagogy, a newly diagnosed dyslexic needs support to come to terms with their diagnosis and as such all students diagnosed as dyslexic at university should receive timely follow up and be made aware of facilities available for them to access.

4. Some academic coping strategies used by dyslexics should be utilised by all students eg, mind mapping computer software.

5. The talents and abilities of dyslexics should be celebrated and highlighted to a greater extent.

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