How to get into developmental disability nursing?

  1. I have a lot of experience volunteering with adults and children with special needs, and I just love working with them. I am getting ready to graduate nursing school in May, and I will have my ADN. My experience with people with special needs is part of the reason I chose to go into nursing, and I would love to be able to specialize and work with them.

    However, I am kind of stumped as to how to get into the field. The job searches I have done have just left me kind of frustrated. I am having a hard time even figuring out where to find a DD nursing job, and then when I do find a job listing, it's for an LPN. Any advice?
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   LeChien
    I worked in a group home I found on craigslist for DD patients. I would call those places anyway and ask if they have any spots available for RNs. You never know.
  4. by   jescalynn
    Schools, call the group homes, day care centers ect., I'm in California and all facilities by me with the exception of schools advertise on Craigslist.
  5. by   enuf_already
    Call your local board of DD. If you have a children's hospital near you, look there.

    Consider volunteering at a special needs summer camp in your area (not necessarily as a nurse) to find out where the clients hang out during their non-camp time.

    There are special needs daycare facilities in some areas or live-in group homes for medically fragile children.

    Call Autism and Down Syndrome organizations in your area. Also see if there are local developmental pediatricians.

    These jobs may not be easy to obtain as a new graduate nurse, but your experience in the field can't hurt.

    Hope this helps! Best wishes!
  6. by   TheCommuter
    Many of the IDD/MHMR group homes and companies advertise their job openings on websites such as Craigslist, Indeed, Careerbuilder, Monster, and so forth.
  7. by   KDalmostRN
    Thanks for the advice, y'all!
  8. by   amoLucia
    Many facilities are Civil Service under your State Dept of Human Services or Developmental Disabilties or Dept of Health. It just may take time to get in (Civil Service usually moves SLOW).
  9. by   brownbook
    I would think with your volunteer work you would know better than I?

    My grandson has special needs. Most of his "needs" are in speech, language, physical, and occupational, therapy, etc., more than nursing needs? Your ADN is great and I love your wanting to work in this field. Maybe if you can't get the type of work you are looking for, you could look into a BS in these other areas that work with special needs?
  10. by   hppygr8ful
    If you live in California check with your local Regional Center. They have jobs for RN's who do assessments for early intervention for children with ID (which is what we now call this population) The term DD and MR are no longer politically correct and should not be used. Even "Special Needs" is frowned upon. The other employer's who typically hire RN's are Developmental Center's though most are being shut down nationwide as the population is moved into community based group homes. There are three types of Group Homes for this population. Community Care Facilities level 1 through 4 (CCF's) who house persons with disabilities but do not have co-morbid health conditions. They are not required to have an RN but many have an LVN who checks in on the "Consumer's" and provides medical follow-up. Then there are Intermedate Care Facilities H - where consumers have co-morbid medical conditions such as hypertension, non-insulin dependent diabetes etc... They are required to have an RN consultant who see's every consumer at least once a week. Typical case load is 36 people. Finally there are Intermediate Care Facilities N - which house consumers with more serious co-morbid medical conditions and required more specialized care these patients may be on vents, have trachs, G-Tubes, Ostomies etc..... They require a licensed nurse to be present at all times that the consumers are in the home. This usually consists of an RN who again may manage the care of around 30 to 36 consumers which LVN's doing most of the hands on care while the RN does things like assessments, Interdisciplinary Team Meetings, Deals with Inspectors from the health department etc..... I di this job for about six years with a company that handles about 175 group homes. The pay is basically entry level and don't expect annual cost of living raises. The work has it's rewards but you have to remember that in most states unlicensed staff pass medications to the consumers under your license so if they make a mistake and kill someone it's on you! You should absolutely purchase and maintain mal-practice insurance. If you really want to look into doing this work check out Bright-Star which has a pretty good reputation, ResCare, and the Mentor Network.

    Hope this information helps

    hppy
  11. by   hppygr8ful
    PS to you all and to the Moderators who may want to change this board's nomenclature. The terms Mentally Retarded or abbreviation (MR) and Developmental Disability (DD) have been dropped from the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5. The new term in Intellectual Disability (ID). Many states have actual laws forbidding use od MR and DD labels. In California there is such a law. that passed a couple of years ago.

    Hppy
  12. by   Pca_85revived
    Not to thread jack, but what is ID short for? Had no idea MR and DD are no longer acceptable, kinda feel bad cuz that's what I use.
  13. by   KDalmostRN
    Quote from Pca_85revived
    Not to thread jack, but what is ID short for? Had no idea MR and DD are no longer acceptable, kinda feel bad cuz that's what I use.
    ID stands for Intellectual Disability. I didn't realize that DD or IDD (Intellectual Developmental Disability) were incorrect now either. :/
  14. by   gteague978
    Hello! I work as a registered nurse with my ADN at an Early Intervention office. I work with children 0 to 3 with developmental delays and also work with the entire family to help support them. I will educate families on medical concerns, help get them connected to resources in the community, accompany to appointments etc. It is a very interesting job. Check your local Early Intervention offices! The job is non clinical(just basics such as weighing children, temps, looking in ears, listening to lungs/heart). Preemie csre, babies born with NAS. A good mix!

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