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Along the Path

 

I recently posted a question on my Facebook page from a nurse with otosclerosis who was experiencing increasing difficulty using her stethoscope:

Frankly, I was really surprised at the number of nurses who were also experiencing similar hearing difficulties.

And it got me wondering.
How many other nurses are successfully working with some form of disability or impairment (and I hate using those words, because if you are working as a nurse with a physical, medical or mental condition….you have abilities up the wazoo in my book)?

Share your personal challenges working as a nurse with a disability.

So I am throwing the questions out there and asking if you would share with us your own experiences and unique challenges working as a nurse with physical or medical conditions.

What obstacles and problems do you experience?
How have your found ways to overcome them?
How are you accepted by your workplace and your colleagues?

References:

Featured image by daveynin.

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Ian Miller

An emergency department nurse at a major teaching hospital in Australia with 29 years clinical experience.
Ian has a special interest in the development of mindfulness and non-technical skills to build resilience, quality, and excellence in nursing practice.
He lives in Canberra, Australia with his partner Kelly, and their dog Smudge.

 

7 Comments

  • jelly says:
    February 7, 2014 at 9:02 pmLets not forget the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service which can help people at risk of losing their job due to an illness, disability or health condition.
    They can assist with a tailormade programme.
    They are a registered provider for the National disability Assistance Scheme.Reply
    Aubrin Miale says:
    January 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I had otosclerosis in my L ear and underwent a stapedectomy a few years ago. (It was cheaper for me to pay the out-of-pocket expense of surgery than to purchase a hearing aid here in the US!) Discovered that I could hear much better with a Littman Master Cardiology stethoscope when I borrowed someone’s while I was working in the C/VICU. Sometimes the impairment doesn’t qualify as a disability that is recognized or accomodated: nurses who are vertically challenged (I’m 5’1″) are fortunate to find step stools to reach monitors, etc. The aging nurse has many challenges—isn’t it awful to ask the resident to read that tiny print on the medication ampule because you forgot your readers or if the lighting is poor? Physical strength diminishes and injury is a greater risk. I live in the US, so people who have recognized disabilities have the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) to support them. Do you have something similar in Australia? (there is a chunk of population who have issues that are not addressed by the ADA and it’s an uphill battle)

    Reply
    Ian Miller says:
    January 3, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    One nurse, who wishes to remain anonymous, responds:

    “I work as a nurse in the mental health sector, suffer from BiPolar and
    I have never felt I could reveal this to any of my colleagues.
    Although my Bipolar is well managed and has been for many years I
    recently had to take time off because of my illness but even then only
    told my manager/s that I had a minor mental health issue but didn’t
    feel comfortable enough to say any more. My manger was great and even
    said that more clinicians with lived experience were/are needed in the
    field, a sentiment I agree with but also feel that more acceptance is
    needed too. I think my issues with revealing more about my illness
    stems from an experience many years ago: I went for an interview for a
    job with a community service organisation that helped young people
    with mental illness, and was told I would get a call back as they
    thought I was perfect for the position but I would need to sit through
    a psych exam. I was young and naive and thought I should be totally
    honest about my condition. Long story short I never got a call back,
    not even for the psych test, and every time I called I was told there
    was either no work (amazing how it all dried up so quickly) or the
    person that interviewed me was on leave. In hindsight I should have
    taken it further but I just moved on with my life.
    For me having BiPolar is just part of who I am, I know my triggers and
    can generally deal with stressors but every now and then I just have
    to take a day or two and say “nah can’t do this today”. I still see
    a psychiatrist, psychologist and GP, but very rarely these days, and
    still take regular medication. I have only experienced transference
    once and that was when I took time off last year, as I knew it – the
    job and my illness- was getting to me. At the end of the day I know I
    would receive the support I require from my managers – albeit
    because of legislative requirements -and would like to think that if I
    disclosed my illness to my colleagues I would be accepted and not
    stigmatised but I also know that not everyone I work with is accepting
    of our patients’ conditions never mind that of those they work with.”

    Reply
    Charlie says:
    January 3, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    As one of the responders to the initial story let me add some background. I am a male RN with a high knowledge of critical care nursing who also loves aged care. For as long as I can remember I have been derided and attacked by my colleagues for years due to my constant carrying of my own stethoscope. They can not and will not accept that it is due to my need for better acoustics than a cheap “nurses” stethoscope can provide.
    Yes, I love technology and having the best equipment I can afford but in no way do I wish to emulate or “be a doctor”. I just want to provide the best possible care to my patients and if that means carrying a $300+ stethoscope then I will do it. The patients deserve it.

    Reply
    Robbie says:
    January 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    to ‘me’. I have two friends with self harm histories. one has left nursing but was able to travel as a nurse to UK with scars. the other still works and has got to a place of acceptance with severe scarring, that they no longer wear long sleeves. other nurses might still judge or make ill informed comments but get the support you need, ignore or educate the ignorant nurses

    Reply
    Suzanne says:
    January 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    There MUST be a respect for PERSONAL Professional life, understand the two are separare.If I were that badly affected by something in my personal life where it could affect my professional work, I would call in sick and see the Doctor strait away. Nothing worse than having to fight for your rego if you presented to the ED via police ambulance after suffering a personal nervous break down at home and let it slip to someone that you”want to die, can’t take it anymore” And refusing to be held against your will in front of coleagues because you know your rights…next thing is you are repotted to ‘HAPRA’ via someone who witnessed you there that day have ticked ‘dangerous to others’ on the complaint form. You are mortified as you take such pride in your work and Patients/ colleagues love you. Fun part is when you are suddenly expected to spend money you dont have to travel a long way from home sit before an ‘impairment panel’ who’s agenda is to make sure you have unnessescary conditions on your rego that make you look completely incompetent (no one will want to employ you with that on your rego for the world to see) you comply complete with every condition yet get no where, playng week long tennis games on the phone between the Union, state national boards..spend all if your spare time money on printing faxing , mailing $1200 so far still no answers.
    . Then you lose your job because during a check, the halth dep. accreditators see your rego…your employer has understood you after explaim your story for thr hundredth time, knows how good you are as a Nurse but has no choice but to terminate your employment. The stress of.not knowing where you can get work again hurts you in your personal life, you get counselling you do more courses in the meanwhile brcause you know you are damn good as a Nurse and should be employed…centerlink wont give you money for rent food because “you’re a Nurse, you could get any job”….
    Each day I live in hope that someone can help me. It’s like living with a painful illness with no answers or form of treatment. So truthfully, Id prefer to have the ‘impaired hearing’ thank you.

    Reply
    Me says:
    January 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I’m part way through my nursing studies. I fear being recognized while on placement as someone who has come in after hurting myself or threatening to.