Hearing impaired RN wants to work but------ - page 3

I am an RN with more than 20yrs high risk L&D exp. After a 5yr illness that left me deaf in one ear, and with only 70% in the other ear. I'm wondering if it is realistic to think I can return to... Read More

  1. by   BernieRN
    Hello AF Wife,

    The first thing you might want to do if you haven't already is to contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation Office.
    Instead of looking for jobs not requiring the use of the stethoscope and phone, look for tools to help you use them.
    I have phones for the hearing impaired at home- clarity- that are boosted specifically for HI, and those types of phones can be placed in the area you choose to work. ADA requires that employers accommodate you in this area.
    There are visual stethoscopes- and stethoscopes that attach to a hub put in your hearing aid so they go through the sound mechanism of the hearing aid. They only work with specific HA's though. They also have amplified scopes.
    Check out Audex for the phones, and Cardionics for stethoscopes for the HI and visual scopes.
    Vocational Rehab might be able to help you with guidance and possibly financially depending on your financial situation. The phones, of course are just to see what is out there- so you will see there is something available for you to hear on in the first place.

    Hope this helps. Don't give up!

  2. by   Beenthinking
    Getting ready to look into a nursing program and I have bilateral tinitus with those fancy in the ear aids. I found those to very difficult to work with. I was thinking maybe got to the behind the ear so all you woud take out of the ear is a transparent tube. perhapse that tube can still stay in the canaly fitting around the edgs of the ear piecies. Very nice to know that there are others
  3. by   WI_home_RN
    I am not HOH but I work with a vent patient (private duty) who cannot speak and must read his lips to communicate. Just a thought!
  4. by   MGM100
    I have been an R.N. in Neonatal Intensive Care for the past 30 years. I have been hard of hearing since I was 5 years old due to either high fevers (German measles, red measles, Mumps-those were the days before immunizations) or a Gentamycin overdose(1965). My mother was also hard of hearing we had a noisy household and my 60% loss was not discovered until I was 15(ha ha). I lip read and wear BTE hearing aids. I take out one aid to listen to heart and bowel sounds and my boss has a amplified phone for my use. The in house phone is pretty clear but the post C/S moms are unable to project their voices when they call from home. I tell them I' m having trouble hearing them and then procede to give them an updated report(any changes, weight gain, labs) and ask if they'll be in for visit so I can answer any questions then. If they need to ask more then, my wonderful co-workers will take the phone and relay the questions to me. In exchange, I assist them with IV's, feeds or interference control with patients, doctors. I am now slipping into profound hearing loss and am more nervous to miss verbal orders, alarms and patient questions. The parents have never complained when I ask them to repeat themselves. The docs are well aware and are good about written orders and facing me to speak. I would say if you want to work as an R.N. with hearing loss you need to be "twice as good" as the average nurse so you can anticipate what orders may be needed and pay attention to detail. All patients are happy to have a compassionate nurse and "suffering" with a disability can be a blessing . I am confused at times with rapid exchange of discussion and thereby will have them(Doctors on rounds) summarize at the completion of rounds. I also utilize my sense of touch and smell more than most nurses(fremitus-need to suction ETT, putrid smells on wound-culture please). 70% of communication is nonverbal and keeping you eyes open and remaining alert, questioning what you don't understand and clarifying when needed remain critical nursing skills. I stay ahead of the game by certification so new people know that I may be deaf but I'm not dumb. ADA makes accomodation a legal requirement but the ultimate responsibility is on the individual. Stay up to date, be cheerful and ask questions when you don't understand. It is tiring with active listening but it can be safe. The babies,ortho-nuero, PACU,pediatric nursing homes are all non verbal. Best wishes and here's to a quiet retirement
  5. by   momofsix6
    Hello and thanks to whoever started this thread.

    I am a 50 year old mom who is now getting ready to enter into nursing school. I start in January. I have worked as a unit clerk in one hospital for 10 years and toward the end, before the hospital closed down, my hearing became progressively worse. (my mom and her mom and my moms brothers all wore hearing aids). I have a few comments and questions.

    I've started clerking in another hospital and almost immediately after starting, I had some type of infection in my ears and ever since, my hearing has gotten much worse. The last time I was at the audiologists, I think I read that I have hearing deficits across the board, with particular problems in the low frequency areas. This is a big concern to me since heart, bowel and lung sounds are all in this frequency...aren't they?

    Also, I find myself embarrassed when I have to ask someone to repeat something they said more than twice. One particular nurse that i work with is openly disgusted with me when I ask her to repeat herself. I've given much thought to pulling her aside to try to explain my issue - but I'm concerned that I will lose my job if I say that I am having a REALLY hard time hearing certain things. I went to my new boss as soon as I suspected something seriously wrong (new) with my hearing. She said just tell people about my problem and "as long as you can do the job" there shouldn't be problems. Does anyone know if it costs a company money to get special phones??

    My other problem is confidence. Often, someone will say something to me and I feel embarrassed to have them repeat it so I just smile, or I say oh, ok. But that is VERY DANGEROUS especially in the medical field and can all of you tell me how you overcame your fear of being made to feel uncomfortable and how you deal with "difficult" or "rude" coworkers??

  6. by   BernieRN
    Hi to Momof6!
    The first thing I would do if you haven't already, is go to a hearing doctor and ask if it might be possible to try having tubes put in your ears. It might increase your hearing substantially. He/she will know if this might help. (If you haven't seen an ear doctor already.

    Next, have a GOOD audiologist talk to you about digital hearing aids! Analog hearing aids are simply made to raise the volume of all of your hearing frequencies. However, digital hearing aids can be adjusted by computer to raise the frequencies you can't hear so well higher- and the higher sounds are left at lower volumes. This makes hearing more natural. They are expensive, yes- but well worth the price.

    Also, the hearing aids usually have a telecoil setting on them, so that you switch to that setting to talk on the phone. Without the telecoil, if you put the phone close to your hearing aid, you would receive whistling feedback.

    My aids are also blue tooth- and I am having them paired right now with a blue tooth telephone. I have already experienced it, and it is wonderful!

    A company was supposed to come out with a blue tooth stethoscope this last summer, but they postponed production until next summer...I'm excited about this! There are also amplified stethoscopes too.

    There are also volume enhanced phones. The best I have found so far is the Clarity Professional model C4230, etc- for use at home.

    I am not sure what your financial situation is, whether you are self supporting or not, etc, but DO get in touch with your local Vocational Rehabilitation Center. They might possibly be able to help you with the purchase of hearing aids and also help you pay for your schooling.

    Lastly, it would be discrimination for your employer to fire you for your hearing impairment without first trying to accommodate the hearing loss ie: volume enhanced phones. Contact Voc Rehab first, though, before you ask your employer about this (?).

    Some people use hearing aids with the speaker phone and it works well, but in the health care community, it is a matter of HIPAA issues to be doing this, unless you are in your own office with privacy while using the phone.

    Hope this information helps, and good luck!

  7. by   momofsix6
    Hi Bernie,

    Thanks so much for all of the information. In my last post I should have mentioned I already have digital hearing aids - they were very expensive but I did get advice from someone about Voc Rehab and they DID help me! Are you serious that they may actually be able to help me with school costs also?? I've been looking for grants and scholarships for hearing impaired but have had NO luck.

    So, also very interesting, I've JUST had tubes put into my ears because the first week on the new job I experienced my head feeling "filled with water" and people sounded like they were under water even with my hearing aids in. So...I got the tubes. I HATE them because everyone sounds muffled now! I'm so very disappointed but they're in there now and I don't want to get surgery to have them removed because I don't know how I'll be after. I'm just going to adjust.

    I do have a very nice audiologist. She just adjusted my aids last month because I told her I hear my own voice pretty loud when I talk. She said it's normal everyone hears their own voice but she did adjust my aids and they seem a little better.

    Bernie, my biggest thing I think (besides having to be able to hear to assess pts with a stethoscope) is having the nerve to tell people I still didn't quite understand what they said after they've repeated it twice or even three times. Sometimes, depending on a persons tone of voice, or background noise (nurses washing their hands, someone taking report in background) really interferes with my ability to hear. MANY times after they repeat it a third time and I don't hear, I just act like I understood and I KNOW that I CANNOT do that in healthcare.

    Well, I've contacted vocational rehab again and I'm going to try to get help paying for my stethoscope. I have the majority of my issues with low frequencies which is what heart, lung, bowel sounds are right?? I've tried standard littman's from a couple nurse and a classic II from a respiratory therapist and couldn't hear squat! But I'm hopeful that with an electronic/amplified scope, I'll be able to do that aspect of the job.

    Now, all I have to do is gain confidence and not feel like I have to apologize 160 times per day for not hearing someone. UGH! I HATE this. I really need a support group but I cannot find any where I live.

    Thanks for listening and if you have any other comments, please - I can use all the encouragement I can get.
  8. by   BernieRN
    Hi again Momof6,

    One thing you have to do is tell people...lots of people you are hearing impaired! It really isn't fair to them to not know. I have been hearing impaired all of my life, so I do well with lip reading while listening. If you haven't already, give that a try. You will eventually learn to look people in the eye, but be reading their lips instead. Any time you are around someone you need to listen to, ask them to please face you when speaking. Most people understand this and will accommodate, and respect that you need this and are glad to "help". Your being hearing impaired is no different than the person with any other disease, except that it isn't right out there for them to see. Eventually you will get used to telling people. Be proud that you have come so far with this impairment!

    The tubes- give them a little time to let your inner ear drain and see if it helps. If they don't, the doctor can take them out in his office and it only takes seconds. There is a small wire attached to each and he reached in with a tool and grabs the wire and plucks them out. You'll hear a popping sound and that is it! Do give them time, though.

    I have a couple of scopes- The E scope works pretty well. You might want to get the belt model with earphones (Cardionics sells them, including the volume controlled earphones). I usually use my Littman amplified though because it reads out the a-pulse for me and has a bit higher volume.

    The e scope is better in the respect you aren't constantly taking your (very expensive) aids out since you can use the earphones. This is nice, especially when working isolation!

    I am currently volunteering in a PACU, and I think if I can get a job in there, it would be good since it is one of the quieter environments. Patients are monitored, and I don't have a huge problem with breath sounds, except maybe in the elderly, I might have to listen a bit longer.

    my bluetooth aids were over 6100 for the pair, and when they finally release the bluetooth stethoscope, hearing won't be an issue at all! This particular scope is called the Freedom scope.

    Please! Tell people you are hearing impaired!!! It is the first thing I tell patients when I go in the room to assess them. They will know it when I take out my hearing aids to listen to them, anyway. Others will understand, for the most part. I promise!!! It gets easier...I promise that too!!!! And don't say you are sorry, just be matter of fact that you need them to speak louder and to your face. You can even buy pins at hearing places that say you are hearing impaired and to please face you!