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Student nurse Emily shares her story during Learning Disability Awareness Week




A student learning disability nurse who voluntarily separated from her two-year-old daughter so she could continue providing care during the coronavirus pandemic has spoken of her passion for the role.

Emily Paterson asked her parents to look after her daughter Ava for nearly two months at the start of lockdown so she could complete her final university placement at the Walker Close inpatient unit, in Ipswich, which is run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Together with her partner Ben Prosser, she made the difficult decision so she could continue in a role she loved while reducing the chance Ava would be exposed to Covid-19.

Emily Paterson and her daughter Ava (36787081)
Emily Paterson and her daughter Ava (36787081)

Emily, who lives in Ixworth, has shared her story during Learning Disability Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, after being reunited with Ava.

“I have immense passion for my job, which I think is illustrated by the fact that I chose to live away from my daughter for nearly two months so I could continue to work,” said Emily, who is studying at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and will gain her nursing pin in the autumn.

“I find it so rewarding and come away every day feeling like I’ve made a difference.”

Emily, 26, began her final six-month university placement at Walker Close at the start of May, where she helps to care for inpatients with learning disabilities who are also facing a mental health crisis.

“Starting my career during the Covid-19 pandemic has been intense and quite challenging,” said Emily.

“Although we have had to change the way we work overnight, it hasn’t been an issue.”


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