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

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    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 nursing with impaired hearing. Does anyone have any suggestions as to maybe an area that would be better suited to a nurse with this dissability. I would love to return to work. Thanks for any advice.
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    I suddenly lost 100% of my hearing in my right ear 13 years ago. My other ear is pretty close to normal, with just a slight weakness in the lower ranges. If your loss has been recent, you're probably still realing from it. But trust me, you CAN get used to it over time.

    I was lucky in that I knew 2 other nurses with only 1 functioning ear when it happened to me. Both had successful ICU careers. So I knew that working as a nurse was still possible. If you need them, there are special stethoscopes for people with unilateral hearing -- though I can't tell you anything about them because I never used them. I had pretty much "left the bedside" in my career by the time it happened to me. I am in staff development and it doesn't cause any problems.

    But if you still want to stay at the bedside, look into the special stethoscopes. Then you can work in whatever field you would like.

    If you are worried about your hearing getting worse and want to explore options for your future should you become less able to hear ... I would recommend the wide range of roles for nurses that don't involve much direct patient care, such as staff development, performance improvement, legal nursing, insurance work, case management, research, infection control, etc. Some of those roles require additional education and you might want to get that while your hearing is still good.

    Do you wear a bi-cross aid? I don't, but one of my friends does. She's an FNP.

    llg
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    I wear biaural in the canal digital hearing aids. I am not completely deaf, but I do have only about 40% left in both ears. I just finished 3rd semester of nursing school, and so far I have been able to function well with an amplified stethoscope. The one I have is a Thinklabs digital electronic stethoscope (Rhythm ds32s), and it amplifies what you want to hear and filters out people talking and other noises unbelievably well. I originally had a Starkey amplified stethoscope, but it amplified EVERYTHING and it was difficult to focus on the sound I was trying to hear. I am going to be working this summer on a cardiac floor, so I am very excited about getting to listen to all the different heart sounds.

    Your local department of vocational rehabilitation can help you with your desire to go back to work as a RN. I got my hearing aids and both stethoscopes through them. It's a great resource for anyone with disabilities. They can help you find work as well.
    SuesquatchRN likes this.
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    Well, I may be a tad late in replying but.... I am an RN who is considered profoundly deaf, wear 2 BTE aids, can lip read, speak, and sign ASL. I work FT as an operating room nurse both as circulator and as a scrub nurse. My coworkers know I'm deaf and do not treat me any different than anyone else. They do, however, alter their way of communicating if they can tell I didn't quite hear what was said. Many times they try to do signs so that I can understand ( they don't know ASL but I give them claps for being creative). If I can be a FT nursewith my level of hearing loss, then so can you... anywhere you feel comfortable working is the correct place for you. More power to ya!
    SuesquatchRN likes this.
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    I was glad to read your post, it gives me hope to know that i can still work as an RN.Lately i am hearing noises in my right ear,and i noticed my hearing is getting difficult., so this gives me some sleepless nights, wondering, how i will be able to find a nursing job that fits my situation.
    Quote from Marvie
    Well, I may be a tad late in replying but.... I am an RN who is considered profoundly deaf, wear 2 BTE aids, can lip read, speak, and sign ASL. I work FT as an operating room nurse both as circulator and as a scrub nurse. My coworkers know I'm deaf and do not treat me any different than anyone else. They do, however, alter their way of communicating if they can tell I didn't quite hear what was said. Many times they try to do signs so that I can understand ( they don't know ASL but I give them claps for being creative). If I can be a FT nursewith my level of hearing loss, then so can you... anywhere you feel comfortable working is the correct place for you. More power to ya!
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    My father was reported to his DON due to his inabliltiy to hear the buzzer med cart. His coworkers felt he was unsafe. This deeply upset him, and he felt discriminated against. With that being said, he ended up leaving his job early retirement/disability. Come to find out he would of qualified yrs ago for permant disablity from his job as an RN as hearing is an essential part of the job. He lost his hearing in 1 ear due to an explosion in Vietnam. I think one can still be a nurse with a hearing impairment, its how you deal with it and find ways for your to do your job and provide adequate medical care to your patients. Good luck to you.
    SuesquatchRN likes this.
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    OK, how in the heck can a lip reading nurse work in the OR? Where they have masks on almost all the time? Do tell.
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    Quote from canoehead
    OK, how in the heck can a lip reading nurse work in the OR? Where they have masks on almost all the time? Do tell.
    What's the purpose of this post? Are your seriously interested in discussing the needs of nurses with hearing impairments? ... or ... Were you trying to make us feel bad by pointing out that there are some jobs that we can not do? ... or ... Did you just make a joke not thinking that it might be a little insensitive without putting it in the context of an actual discussion?

    To just jump in like that with such a statement without putting it into any context leaves room for misinterpretation. Could you please explain what you actually meant by your post? You're a long-time member of this community and I can't believe you meant to hurt anyone's feelings.
  12. 1
    Quote from Marvie
    Well, I may be a tad late in replying but.... I am an RN who is considered profoundly deaf, wear 2 BTE aids, can lip read, speak, and sign ASL. I work FT as an operating room nurse both as circulator and as a scrub nurse. My coworkers know I'm deaf and do not treat me any different than anyone else. They do, however, alter their way of communicating if they can tell I didn't quite hear what was said. Many times they try to do signs so that I can understand ( they don't know ASL but I give them claps for being creative). If I can be a FT nursewith my level of hearing loss, then so can you... anywhere you feel comfortable working is the correct place for you. More power to ya!
    I also want to thank you for posting this! I am hearing-impaired in both ears (right=mild, left=mild-to-severe). So far I have not found many answers to my questions pertaining to nursing education and careers in the state of Kentucky. That's probably just me, though. I contacted Bluegrass Community College and was told that a female student (which I am not) was hard-of-hearing and successfully passed the nursing program, but they would not answer my question as to whether the student actually got a nursing job. I love people, and taking care of them and want to make a career out of nursing.
    SuesquatchRN likes this.
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    Well, for that person's info I am a deaf RN and I work in the OR. Just because I can lip read does not mean that is all I can do. I do wear 2 BTE aids and I do have some residual hearing It may not be much but with the hearing aids, I have been very successful and do quite well. Yes that comment was a bit insensitive and is the type of ignorant comments I often hear. Yes I am deaf. Yes I work in the Operating room. So there!:deadhorse




    Quote from llg
    What's the purpose of this post? Are your seriously interested in discussing the needs of nurses with hearing impairments? ... or ... Were you trying to make us feel bad by pointing out that there are some jobs that we can not do? ... or ... Did you just make a joke not thinking that it might be a little insensitive without putting it in the context of an actual discussion?

    To just jump in like that with such a statement without putting it into any context leaves room for misinterpretation. Could you please explain what you actually meant by your post? You're a long-time member of this community and I can't believe you meant to hurt anyone's feelings.


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