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Professor Owen Barr

Professor Owen Barr’s work focuses on educating health professionals and developing national standards for nurse education to support people with learning disabilities when they access general healthcare services. For over 30 years he has co-produced learning opportunities and resources through working collaboratively with people with learning disabilities and their families.
Ulster University
Job Title
Professor of Nursing and Intellectual Disabilities

An unwavering commitment and passion to develop and deliver transformative student learning opportunities to ensure all people, and especially people with learning disabilities, have high quality, safe and effective healthcare experiences drives Professor Owen Barr’s work as an educator. He started his career as a Registered General Nurse before also qualifying as a Registered Nurse and a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities. He worked in a range of hospital and community services before entering nurse education.

His philosophy of learning and teaching values authentic relationships built on ‘being present’ with the students as adult learners and active partners. He encourages students to develop a solution focused, can do, growth mind-set by embracing challenges and confronting uncertainties to promote learning. He supports students to work through well-paced and ‘achievable’ challenges that actively engage them in ‘doing’, through practice learning experience with people with learning disabilities, showing the direct relevance of their learning to transforming their future practice. His commitment to promoting inclusion and valuing diversity of people is grounded in his clinical experiences and drives forward an equality based agenda in his teaching.

The focus of his teaching is developing students’ knowledge, skills and confidence to support people with learning disabilities and their families. His work particularly focuses on supporting people with learning disabilities to have equity of access to, and equity of outcome from, general healthcare services. He works collaboratively with people with learning disabilities to co-produce learning materials, including the use of drama sketches, creative short films, free to access eLearning resources and core textbooks that are used internationally.

Owen is a leader in nurse education, previously a Head of School of Nursing for almost 10 years and holds Principal Fellowship (PFHEA). His leadership in nurse education has a national and international impact and consistently extends beyond his core university role. He is changing the practice of healthcare professionals in supporting people with learning disabilities, nationally and internationally through developing practice guidelines and accessible educational resources. He directly influences the development of national standards for nurse education that impact on the teaching and learning of all pre-registration nurses across the United Kingdom.

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