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Students share reflections on the UK's first neuro rehab course

Read three accounts from the 2021-2022 cohort

At the end of 2020 the University of Edinburgh, developed a new online course, in collaboration with the RCN Foundation and brain injury charity, SameYou, to help nurses respond more effectively to the effects of neurological conditions – a leading cause of death and disability in the UK.

This part-time postgraduate certificate in Neurological Rehabilitation and Care, which was funded by the RCN Foundation, can be studied online from anywhere in the world and supports registered nurses to undertake study, while working clinically.

Here you can read about the experiences of three of the funded students of the course so far.

Donna Barry

Donna, who is originally from Ireland but has lived in Scotland for almost 14 years, first started working for the NHS in 2010 as a clinical support worker. Here she tells us about her journey to becoming a nurse and her passion for neurological nursing.

“My most memorable placement, back when I first started training to become a nurse, was at a rehabilitation unit in Edinburgh, for brain and spinal injury patients. This placement is where my interest and love for nursing within this area began. I qualified as a nurse in 2016 and immediately applied to work at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience in Edinburgh. I learned so much there, especially within the acute side of neurological nursing.

In 2019, my life changed drastically with the birth of my daughter - she became the most important thing in my life. For a moment I got so caught up in the baby bubble that I found it difficult getting back into the swing of things, or even back to working life. So, I took some time off. However, the passion I had for nursing, for the patients, and their recovery took over me and I went back to work.

I first heard about the post graduate program on neurological rehabilitation on twitter. I immediately thought I’d love to apply for it because it is the area of nursing that I am most passionate about. I wanted a challenge, and I would love to be able to make an even bigger difference to the patients I care for and their families. I believe the knowledge I’d gain from doing this course will help me understand even further what neurological rehabilitation really entails, and ways in which I can improve my current skills.

I was delighted when I was accepted onto this fully funded course. I know that having a crazy little 2 year old will be an additional challenge in itself whilst studying but I am sure many nurses have done it before and many will do it after me. I feel that it will be a bonus to be able to say that I took on such a challenge, and even show other new mums out there that it is possible to pursue your interests whilst being a mum.

We are now just coming into the 6th week of the course. As this is my first experience of doing an online course, it did take me a while to get my head around navigating the online materials, weekly discussions and finding the different resources. The team at Edinburgh University have been absolutely amazing, and so supportive. My 2 year old has been floating about in the background on many occasions and this has never been an issue, everyone is so understanding and lovely about it. I submitted my first formative assessment today. It has been challenging to balance work life, home life and course life. Something I haven’t fully managed but continue to give it a good bash.

So far, even after just 6 weeks of the course, I genuinely believe it has been incredibly beneficial towards the way I see things. It is very much patient focused and I have already learned skills that I have adapted and incorporated into my work and help make the rehabilitation experience more patient centred. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this course happen. Thanks to my manager for supporting me in taking part in this learning experience. A massive thank you to the RCN Foundation and a big thank you to Edinburgh University for accepting me onto the course. Hopefully I will do you all proud. "


Glenn has been a qualified nurse for 6 years and a Neuro Rehab nurse for 2 years and he is based in Dublin.  He completed his undergraduate and masters degree in nursing in the Philippines where he is originally from. He moved to Ireland with hopes of broadening his nursing experience and begin a new career path.

"I came across the online course postgraduate study in neurological rehabilitation through work. I immediately thought of submitting my application and fortunately, I was offered a place. Learning together with other high-calibre nurses from around the world makes my virtual school experience amazing.

We are all anchored by the same passion in rehabilitation nursing and everyone in the group supports each other in many ways.  The class is well guided by the brilliant team who runs the programme. We all meet up online through the student portal each week for discussion and concerns.

At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but things have started to work out really well. The roster I have at work is running as normal and the programme is also very flexible! I am continuously learning during my free time, and I love how the whole set up blends in with my daily routine. It might get tough at some point as the topics get deeper and more critical but it’s all part of the process.

This postgraduate education will make an essential contribution to my personal and professional development as a nurse in the field of neurologic rehabilitation. My gratitude goes to the RCN Foundation, SameYou and The University of Edinburgh School of Health in Social Science for such a great opportunity. I’m excited to share my learning with everyone at work and look forward to what’s in store for the next few months ahead."

Goulty Donna

Donna lives with her husband and two children in Rotherham. She is a qualified nurse and social worker, but primarily works clinically at the rehabilitation facility STEPS in Sheffield. Donna also holds a qualification in learning disability nursing.

"I found out about the course through our lead nurse and clinical educator. During my time in neuro and trauma rehab I have seen the remarkable and life changing effects that high quality support can have on an individual who needs this care. For the best chance of successful rehabilitation, we need personalised, high-quality care, and I wanted to be able to provide the best care I could through further education and personal and professional advancement. This is so that I can be of most benefit and aid in increasing likelihood of positive outcomes for the people I support. 

The notion of person-centred practice was interwoven into each aspect of my university study, and educational institutes and workplaces are beginning to use this example of upstream thinking to tailor care and support packages, which are being evidenced as achieving the best outcomes.  It was clear from the outset-from initial enquiries for this course by email, to introductory meetings by video call to current seminars, that the quality of communication, teaching and student support is very high. The staff are very passionate about their subject areas, and this has such a positive impact on student interest and learning.  

The way the course is structured is great; we have online live teaching, discussion groups, are provided with high quality teaching and opportunities to talk to international guest speakers. Additionally, we are given sources for further research and thus the opportunity to read more than is needed for the course. The material is at a higher level than I have done in the past, such as the masters level anatomy, yet support is always there which is reassuring and ensures the tasks do not feel daunting. We have the regular opportunity to talk to other students on the course, people from a variety of backgrounds and locations, and there is very much the feel of a supportive group environment.  

Though we are only a few weeks into the course, it is already having a positive impact on my job and career. My work colleague Selina is also a student on the program, and we can both already notice our skills improving, including a better understanding of the physical nature of neurology and how we can personalise care further to achieve better outcomes.  

I look forward to what else the course has to offer. I feel extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to be a part of such an innovative program that I am sure will have a massive impact on the world of neuro rehabilitation through listening to our patients, learning and developing by putting theory into practice. "

To find out more about the course visit