Session 10a

Registered nurses with dyslexia: strategies for success in lifelong learning
Rachael Major, Honorary Lecturer, Institute of Health and Social Care Studies, Guernsey

The presentation will discuss the results of a narrative study of the experiences of Registered Nurses with dyslexia and their engagement in learning. The nurses described strategies that they developed for professional development. These strategies will be analysed in relation to current move to inclusive approaches in Higher Education. 

Session summary:

Whilst there is a growing body of evidence pertaining to student nurses with dyslexia (Evans, 2014, Storr et al., 2011), there is very little research on the learning experiences of Registered Nurses. Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty or Difference (SpLD) which affects around 10% of the population, 4% severely (British Dyslexia Association, 2012). It is not known how many nurses have the condition (Sanderson-Mann and McCandless, 2005). However, research has shown that people with dyslexia might be drawn to people-orientated careers with a higher practical component and less structure than an office based profession (Taylor and Walter, 2003).

A qualitative, in-depth, narrative lifecourse approach was used with participants across Great Britain. The 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 session presented the findings of the research focussing on the compensatory strategies that the nurses had developed over the years to engage in learning and the choices that they made around disclosure of dyslexia. It also addressed how lecturers supported nurses with dyslexia on post-registration courses, access to reasonable adjustments and how these fit with the current move towards inclusive teaching, learning and assessment (Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group, 2017).


British Dyslexia Association (2012) What are Specific Learning Difficulties? Available at: (Accessed: 20th November 2012).

Disabled Students Sector Leadership Group (2017) 'Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence', Available: Department for Education. Available at:

Evans, W. (2014) '‘I am not a dyslexic person I'm a person with dyslexia’: identity constructions of dyslexia among students in nurse education', Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(2), pp. 360-372.

Sanderson-Mann, J. and McCandless, F. (2005) 'Guidelines to the United Kingdom Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001 with regard to nurse education and dyslexia', Nurse Education Today, 25(7), pp. 542-549.

Storr, H., Wray, J. and Draper, P. (2011) 'Supporting disabled student nurses from registration to qualification: A review of the United Kingdom (UK) literature', Nurse Education Today, 31(8), pp. e29-e33.

Taylor, K. E. and Walter, J. (2003) 'Dyslexia and occupation', Dyslexia, 9(3), pp. 177-185.

Attendee feedback:
Rachael reviewed her study of nurses with dyslexia and how they cope and compensate for their condition. From this she offers a number of recommendations on how teachers can identify dyslexic students, guide and make reasonable adjustments to help them with their learning, and how this fits with the inclusive curriculum.