Sarah Dillon – Registered Nurse Makes a Fresh Start Retraining as an SNA

Alumni of SNA Level 6

Special Needs Assisting

Sarah Dillon had been caring for people for a long time before she came to Portobello Institute to retrain as a Special Needs Assistant. She worked for many years as a registered nurse before deciding the time was right for a fresh challenge in 2021.

She heard about the quality of the QQI accredited courses at Portobello Institute from a friend and the recommendation was enough for Sarah to follow her passion for caring for people in a new avenue as an SNA.

At Portobello Institute, we offer both Level 5 and Level 6 accredited qualifications in SNA which are highly regarded in the sector.

Thanks to her nursing degree, Sarah was able to go straight into the Level 6 qualification. Despite having to adjust to remote learning, she said she had a fantastic experience doing the course, in particular, learning from tutor Fran Trehy.

“I really did enjoy it. Fran Trehy, who was our tutor, was wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t say enough about her. She was just brilliant. She was so enthusiastic, so knowledgeable. She was so helpful. She would always say that if we were struggling, to send her an email and she’d get straight back to you. She made the whole thing a very enjoyable experience.

“I really enjoyed it anyway. I had been thinking about doing it for a while. I was happy to get started and get stuck in. I was a little bit worried about the whole Zoom thing because my computer skills wouldn’t be great. But the computer and tech support was really good. They had said that if we were worried at all to get in contact. Just getting set up initially and getting the password, they were really helpful with that,” she said.

Since gaining her qualification, Sarah has already been able to put it into practice getting straight onto the career path she wanted.

“I was lucky enough to get my placement in my son’s local school around the corner. Then, come January when I got my qualification, I started subbing. I was subbing from January to June in that school. I was getting two or three shifts a week. There’s a job going there now so I’ve applied for that. Fingers crossed. We’ll see how it goes,” she said.

In those six months, she has enjoyed following her passion, working in the career she wants, and learning more every day.

“The course content is very helpful. Obviously, you do learn on the job too because you’re learning as you go.

“With all of the academic stuff, I did find that you could put theory into practice, a lot of the stuff we had gone through and the theorists we spoke about. It began to slot into place. A lot of the course content is the background you need for when you actually get in there,” she said.

And for Sarah, she is already feeling the reward of choosing the course for the career she wants in a role she is passionate about.

“It’s just great working with kids. I come from a nursing background and I had just had enough of what I was doing.

“It’s just a joy to go in every day and work with the kids. It’s great. There are hard days as well, no more than any other job. But I just get a great sense that I’m doing something meaningful and it’s just really enjoyable.

“The crew that I’m working with are really helpful as well. It was a brand-new experience for me coming from a different background.

“If anybody was talking to me about the whole SNA experience I would absolutely recommend Portobello, definitely,” she said.

If you are interested in following your passion to fulfil your potential as an SNA, coming from a career change, or starting out fresh, Portobello Institute can support you to choose the course for the career you want. Get in touch with our expert admissions advisor, Sarah Coyne by emailing sarah.coyne@portobelloinstitute.com, call her on 01 892 0041 or book a one-to-one call with her at a time that suits you here to find out about upcoming courses and to answer any questions you may have.

To check out our upcoming SNA courses, start dates, booking packages and delivery modes visit our department page here.

Sarah Dillon – Registered Nurse Makes a Fresh Start Retraining as an SNA Sarah Dillon – Registered Nurse Makes a Fresh Start Retraining as an SNA