Dyscalculia: My Student Nurse Journey 

Eliza 

 

I’m Eliza, I’m currently a third year student nurse studying at Bangor University, where I’m also chair of the nurse society, I was diagnosed with dyslexic, dyscalculia and dyspraxia when I was 10 years old, my biggest struggles with my dyscalculia have been mental maths and my memory. I’d loved to try support people with dyscalculia and help build their confidence. My current goals are to finish my university degree to then go on to complete my masters in advance nursing.   

 

I have always known I wanted to be in a profession where I am able to help people. I looked into a variety of courses and finally came to the conclusion that nursing was the course for me! After this decision it was time to apply for a university course. I always knew this was going to be challenging as I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia young. However, I was fortunate to have a strong supportive network.

I can remember being at school and being the last to complete my mental maths test and being unable to recite my times tables. I can remember the whole class laughing at me when I was unable to answer simple maths questions. This always made me feel so embarrassed and had a massive negative impact on my confidence, I’m sure many of you can relate to this feeling of dread when you saw maths on your school timetable.

Although I had a strong support network, I can definitely say that I wouldn’t have improved my maths confidence or passed my maths GCSEs without my secondary school teacher pushing me to believe in myself. This teacher helped me elevate my grade from a U to C, having successfully passed my maths GCSE and my A levels this opened the door to healthcare and my university career.

I had made it! This was my new big chapter! University! I had successfully got into Bangor University to study nursing, I was so proud of myself, I was welcomed with open arms into my university family. This also meant accessing new support for my dyslexia and dyscalculia to help me face this new challenge in my life. The university was able to help and provide so much support, including access to extra lessons, proof reading, academic aid equipment and new amazing tutors that have been able to help me every step of the way and most importantly believed in me.

It wasn’t long into my course before the realisation of ‘what have I let myself in for’ hit me. This thought came with the information that in 3 year’s year time I was going to have to sit a maths exam with no calculator, with a pass mark of 100%! My heart dropped, I thought there is no way I could pass this, not in a million years. I had never passed a non-calculator exam before, the fear started to build even though it was many years away.

Armed with this new information, I started to practise for this exam. I knew I wasn’t going to let my dyscalculia stop me from becoming a nurse, for this to happen I knew I had to

• Stay positive.
• Keep my support network close and use them as a negativity barricade.
• Have strong self-belief.
• Work hard.
• And access any support I was offered.

I continued to work towards this exam for the next two years. As the time got closer to my exam, my university offered me daily maths lessons to prepare for this. The day finally came, I sat my exam, and I passed it! First time! I was shocked and over the moon, what a relief. My hard work had finally paid off. This was, without a doubt, one of my biggest challenges for my dyscalculia.

 

From this experience I have learnt that I am more than capable, and I may just have to take a different route to get to the same finish line.

 

This experience also taught me that accepting help and self-belief are key in creating success.
I am now approaching my final few months of my nursing course, where I am now the chair of the nursing society and aiming to support as many people as I can to believe in themselves, and help them access support for their own university journey.