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Gary Ward

Master of Science in Dementia Studies (with merit)

What attracted you to study this programme at the University of Stirling?

I started my career in nursing in 2006 and the majority of my time has been spent supporting people (persons) with Dementia during that time I have had experience working in a range of areas from working in the community and day care, providing support to people in crisis to end of life care.  I now work as a psychiatric liaison nurse supporting the complex physical and psychological problems facing people who are living with Dementia and their carers. I developed strong foundations for a career in nursing and mental health throughout my 17 years as a hairdresser.  Listening  to people’s happiness, pain and sadness and offering support and guidance naturally formed part of my job and made me realise I wanted to make the career move. 

Being responsible for carrying out formal assessments and at times providing the first diagnosis for people potentially with Dementia is something I do not take lightly and although I already had an undergraduate degree in nursing, I wanted to broaden my knowledge and develop further expertise. Whilst I have experience of carrying out vital assessments, I was really interested in how others did so to ensure I can provide the best support service possible.

I chose this programme over any other because of the course content and module structure; it took you back to the very basics of how to understand dementia and associated processes and practices. For me, it was the perfect mix of theory, research and practice and that suited my personal development needs.

Do you think the degree has advanced your key skills and made you more desirable to employers?

The course has undoubtedly strengthened my knowledge around Dementia diagnosis and care. I now have a developed, up to date and relevant research evidence base which, in turn, has significantly increased my confidence in my own professional ability.

Although a formal postgraduate qualification is not essential for my role and others like it, it certainly adds more credence to your decisions and your professional profile. My current organisation clearly agree as they are currently funding two other employees on the same programme at Stirling.

What advice would you give to someone considering this programme?

Go for it. Don’t overthink it. As well as enhancing my existing skills and knowledge base, the open and inclusive environment of the programme has allowed me to make good friends and build up a useful network of contacts. The diversity of student’s career backgrounds also means you have the opportunity to challenge what you already know and learn so much from others.

Gary graduated in June 2016 and is currently exploring possibility of a Doctorate in Applied Social Research.

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