Can a person be a nurse w/ mobility problems?

  1. Hello,
    I have been reading posts on this board for a while and have appreciated all the great tips and information I have gleaned from it.
    I have a problem that I was hoping someone who is a nurse already could help me with. I applied to nursing school with a bad ankle and have never walked as fast as everyone else. When I applied I didn't have many problems with it but nothing really severe; however right before I started school here on the west coast it got worse. The information I have read on here made me feel I could be a nurse even if I have a disability and gave me encouragement. However, in clinical yesterday there was a code and I didn't move as fast as the other nurses. I think I was only a few steps behind them but someone else might disagree. I am concerned I am going to be thrown out of the program. I have had other problems but this is the one problem my instructor is most concerned about. I have talked with another instructor and she also questioned how I could respond to a code fast enough. I think I may fail the class because I didn't respond fast enough.
    I have contacted my school's disability center and they were very discouraging. They said (the person I spoke with has taken a class on ADA) that they assumed that an essential function of being a nurse is to respond fast enough in an emergency. I know CNAs and LPNs who have mobility problems but the answer I was given is they don't have the responsibility a nurse has in giving meds or resuscitating a patient.
    I have worked for 3 years to get into the program taking classes at night and am very excited to be taking the classes but wonder if it is all for naught. I would like to contact a lawyer who specializes in ADA law but I can't afford one and hate to have to drag one into it.
    I realize there are many areas of nursing that don't involve high acuity patients/ICU but everyone says I will have to work med/surg the first few years to gain experience. I have given up my hope of working in the ED. I think people feel I might be a risk to my patients because of my response time so in that case the ADA wouldn't cover me.
    Has anyone on here started working as a nurse/been a student with a physical impairment that limited their mobility? I know people can't give legal advice but I am just looking for other people's experiences. I have read inspiring articles about people who have back pain, are in wheel chairs, and are amputees with prosethetic arms.
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   TexasPediRN
    My best friend, and fellow nurse, has Cerebral Palsy. (lower extremities are affected in her case).


    So yes, its possible.


    Good luck And stop worrying about it
  4. by   Tweety
    I worked with a nurse with some sort of hip problem, one leg was much shorter than the other and she wasn't fast on her feet at all. I worked with a 350 lb. women who wasn't fast on her feet either.

    A concern for me would be not that can move fast enough, but is it a problem that causes pain, or is exacerbated by being on your feet 12-13 hours a day? Is your overall health good (should be if you're in the program) and can handle the stress?

    Good luck.
  5. by   mercy1975
    Quote from student1000
    Hello,
    I have been reading posts on this board for a while and have appreciated all the great tips and information I have gleaned from it.
    I have a problem that I was hoping someone who is a nurse already could help me with. I applied to nursing school with a bad ankle and have never walked as fast as everyone else. When I applied I didn't have many problems with it but nothing really severe; however right before I started school here on the west coast it got worse. The information I have read on here made me feel I could be a nurse even if I have a disability and gave me encouragement. However, in clinical yesterday there was a code and I didn't move as fast as the other nurses. I think I was only a few steps behind them but someone else might disagree. I am concerned I am going to be thrown out of the program. I have had other problems but this is the one problem my instructor is most concerned about. I have talked with another instructor and she also questioned how I could respond to a code fast enough. I think I may fail the class because I didn't respond fast enough.
    I have contacted my school's disability center and they were very discouraging. They said (the person I spoke with has taken a class on ADA) that they assumed that an essential function of being a nurse is to respond fast enough in an emergency. I know CNAs and LPNs who have mobility problems but the answer I was given is they don't have the responsibility a nurse has in giving meds or resuscitating a patient.
    I have worked for 3 years to get into the program taking classes at night and am very excited to be taking the classes but wonder if it is all for naught. I would like to contact a lawyer who specializes in ADA law but I can't afford one and hate to have to drag one into it.
    I realize there are many areas of nursing that don't involve high acuity patients/ICU but everyone says I will have to work med/surg the first few years to gain experience. I have given up my hope of working in the ED. I think people feel I might be a risk to my patients because of my response time so in that case the ADA wouldn't cover me.
    Has anyone on here started working as a nurse/been a student with a physical impairment that limited their mobility? I know people can't give legal advice but I am just looking for other people's experiences. I have read inspiring articles about people who have back pain, are in wheel chairs, and are amputees with prosethetic arms.
    I had polio when I went to nursing school and i'm sure I was alittle bit slower, but it never stopped me. You may have been a few steps behind but what is important is how you acted once you got there. Your expertise will carry you through. Don't spend much time worrying about it. You'll do just fine. It sounds like you are a very motivated individual and that drive will get you through:spin: Trust me , it did me!!!
  6. by   student1000
    Thanks for everyone's responses. The thing is I can't stop worrying about it because I am afraid I am going to be dismissed from the program. How do I deal with the lack of helpful attitudes with the program's instructors and disability services center? I feel lost and need someone's support who can speak on my behalf or need to find some legal information that says even with my disability I can do this. The ADA supposedly can't help me since I have been told by the school a fast response time is an essential element of the job so that means I am not being discrimminated against. They have no literature that states what requirements/attributes that a potential nurse might need to complete the program which is something I have recently seen at other schools.

    The people you describe in your posts (or yourself) how did the hospital address the issue? How did they respond to emergencies? Asking for help when I can't do something or don't understand is no problem for me, asking for accommodations is.

    I can handle the stress of classes and clinicals but feel frustrated by this new development that I am trying to gain control over. Being on my feet does cause pain but I am working on it, making sure I take the time after working to ice my ankle. I probably won't do floor nursing and plan to eventually get my doctorate (but first I am concentrating on getting my BSN).

    In order to earn your masters/doctoral degree do you have to work as a floor nurse especailly in med/surg or would some other setting count (I know nurses work in numerous settings its just getting to that point of being allowed)?
  7. by   traumaRUs
    I want to wish you the best. I'll be honest - I worked in a fast-paced ER setting for 10 years until I was 47. I am overweight, never was a track star and yes, folks can move faster than me. However, when I get somewhere, I am calm and decisive and know what to do. And...I'll be honest, many times that I have seen folks RUN to so-called emergencies - the incident turns out to be minor. Rarely do you have to RUN to anywhere.

    I too have worked with a tech who had cerebral palsy - as long as she was able to do her job, there were no problems. Is this school timing you??? And....why does a student have to be the first one into a code? Usually, there are a gazillion folks just milling around. Don't see why the school would have any say in this situation.
  8. by   student1000
    TraumaRUS wrote: " I too have worked with a tech who had cerebral palsy - as long as she was able to do her job, there were no problems. Is this school timing you??? And....why does a student have to be the first one into a code? Usually, there are a gazillion folks just milling around. Don't see why the school would have any say in this situation."

    The school is worried about the future. I didn't respond to the first code because we were never told if we had a right to be present when it was our patient. My feeling was I would potentially be in the way.

    I have been told it is different if a tech/CNA has a disability because they are not responsible for providing emergency meds/CPR.
  9. by   tinkerbell1963
    I am slower then all the young kids in my class I am a large woman and old on top of it my instructors look at my skills not speed if they try and boot you from the program I would fight it with everything you have because its not speed that saves lives it the skill you have when you there Good luck hun

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