Strand 8: Student experience and engagement
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).
Whilst there is a growing body of evidence regarding the effects of dyslexia on student nurses only two studies have investigated the experiences of qualified nurses (Illingworth, 2005, Morris and Turnbull, 2007). The aim of the study by Morris and Turnbull (2007) was to identify whether having dyslexia had affected the nurse's career progression. The majority of the respondents felt that they had been able to progress, but at a slower pace than their colleagues, partly due to lack of confidence, particularly in relation to obtaining academic qualifications (Morris and Turnbull, 2007). This research was supported by a much smaller qualitative study by Illingworth (2005), where participants felt that their career choices had been affected by having dyslexia and that there was a stigma associated with dyslexia. Storr et al. (2011) identified that a negative attitude to students with a disability and a lack of understanding of the condition was a barrier to student progression and a lack of support resulted in adverse student experiences. Kolanko (2003) found that nursing students in the United States expressed that they felt that they had to work harder than their peers for less positive outcomes (Kolanko, 2003) which is further supported by research in Ireland by Evans (2014).