Getting a nursing degree with a focus on learning disabilities first requires completing either a Licensed Practical Nurse certification, an Associate of Science in Nursing, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, according to Johnson & Johnson. The graduate must pass the National Council Licensure Examination and complete two years of work in developmental disabilities before they can apply to take the certification exam from the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association.
Individuals seeking to practice nursing in the field of developmental disabilities should be able to remain calm, be confident in their actions, and communicate effectively with patients, explains the DDNA. These applicants should also have a sincere interest in helping individuals with an intellectual developmental disability and show an aptitude in pinpointing problems and determining effective solutions.
To qualify for certification, the individual must practice nursing in an institutional or community setting addressing developmental disabilities, explains the DDNA. He may also be an administrator or educator in a developmental disabilities program or a nurse consultant. Nurse practitioners with enough qualifying hours can also take the certification exam. However, individuals who have cared for a family member in the home only do not qualify, whether the position received pay or not, as of 2015.
Study materials for entering into developmental disability nursing include "Learning Disability Nursing at a Glance" by Bob Gates, Debra Fearns and Jo Welch. This textbook acts as a study guide, with full-color illustrations and expert contributions from academia and clinicians in the field, according to Wiley. It addresses primary and secondary care perspectives. It also has a companion website for online study.