There was a special family link for Jenny Tinkler, who was joined at graduation by her two daughters who studied related nursing degrees at Teesside University.
Jenny, who completed a Professional Doctorate at Teesside University, works as a Clinical Specialist in Physiotherapy with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust’s North Learning Disability Team based in Chester-le-Street.
Her role is in postural management, leading on approaches to support the care needs of adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities. She also provides trust-wide consultancy, chairs the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists for People with a Learning Disability and is a member of the National Learning Disability Professional Senate.
Jenny graduated from the Professional Doctorate at Teesside University, having completed a study on postural care in profound intellectual and multiple disabilities.
Her oldest daughter Lucy Rafell graduated from the BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) in 2006. Lucy now works as a staff nurse at Lanchester Road Hospital in Durham.
Younger daughter Hannah Rafell also graduated from the BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies (Learning Disabilities) in 2015. She is now working with a private provider, supporting adults with autism and challenging behaviour.
Jenny said: “I was keen for the girls to be aware at a young age of people with special needs and learning disabilities, so as young children they would come to my place of work and became quite comfortable being with people with learning disabilities.”
She added: “My daughters having both studied learning disabilities nursing at Teesside gives us a lot of common ground and I feel quite proud that they have gone into related professions within the same speciality.”
Jenny, who completed the doctorate part-time over seven years, said: “I started in 2010, combining study with work and being a mother, wife and grandmother to my grandchild who was born just as I was starting this journey.
“It was hard work, but the end result has made it worthwhile. There were times when critical deadlines approached and I was trying to juggle my job, look after my family, which included a large amount of child care, as well as study. It was stressful at times, but on reflection, despite all the stresses I enjoyed the challenge and highly recommend it.
“I found the help and support from the academic team in the School of Health & Social Care to be tremendous. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Having originally decided to return to study while working professionally, Jenny completed a master’s degree in advancing practice in 2003 while working full-time. She said: “When I graduated from the master’s I can recall saying that was it when it came to further study. However a few years later I got itchy feet and felt the need to challenge myself and decided to begin the professional doctorate.
“I looked at both the traditional PhD route and the taught doctorate route and considered that the latter suited me better as it matched my style of learning. I liked the way it was structured with deadlines to meet, which fitted in well with my professional and family life.
“I still completed a lot of my study at weekends and evenings, but having the one day each week at University gave me the structure I was looking for.
“I was very fortunate that Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust supported me and allowed me time to study at the University each Wednesday. Without their support it would have been unachievable. Despite this I still completed a lot of my study at weekends and evenings, but having the one day each week at University gave me the structure I was looking for.
“During my studies I saw the University evolve with developments across the campus. It has been good to be part of a University which is continuing to grow and develop.”
She added: “I chose Teesside University due to its reputation and largely for its location as I was able to travel to the campus to study. It fitted in perfectly with work and family life.”