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Any advice for a disabled nurse?

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Specializes in ER/MS Tele/ Oncology. Has 8 years experience.

Hi guys

I just wanted advice for any nurse regarding finding employment after disability. I was a ER nurse with background in oncology/MS for 5 years when due to spinal disease during an assignment in California I was left disabled in a wheelchair . Since that time I had to go through rehab and put my life back together with the new norm of living as a disabled person . I’m now trying to reenter nursing but am hitting roadblocks . Recruiters contact me but once I inform of my disability instantly stop communicating with me , I feel slighted and discriminated against because I have so much to give and my disability doesn’t stop me from helping others . I was thinking of just obtaining my nurse practitioner education but afraid of hitting these same roadblocks once I finish. It’s frustating that a caregiver who has helped so much in the community gets treated as expired goods once they are deemed defective . Any advice is helpful and appreciated.

nom

SineQuaNon, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in ED, Family Practice, Home Health. Has 14 years experience.

I find that university associated hospitals are sometimes more accepting. That said, don't mention your disability until the in-person interview, if you feel you can perform the duties of your job with reasonable accommodation. There's no point in shooting yourself in the foot if you've found it to be a non-starter until now. Often once people can see you, they see you as a real person and are willing to make accommodations they may not have been willing to do beforehand.

I'm not quite in the same boat but I have a felony, which obviously gives people pause. I do disclose quite early but if I can have them meet me in person so I can tell them in person first, or send them an email, I find I often do get the interview and even the job offer!

Check out the post from the nurse who doesn't want to do any patient care, there's some good suggestions there. Also agree with what SineQuaNon said about not mentioning it until your interview.

BxRN718, ADN, BSN

Specializes in ER/MS Tele/ Oncology. Has 8 years experience.

I read the thread mentioned, the difference is I don’t hate patients and dont want to totally leave interacting with patients . It’s a conditions that is out of my control and God put on my lap for some reason , I love the care aspect and interactions . SineQuanon thanks for the suggestion I’m going to do that , I’ve always had luck popping up at the nursing dept at places and getting jobs that way . I’m just a honest type of person and like to put stuff up front but I guess in this case I will do that .

Vquest5, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Education.

As a bedside nurse, becoming disabled can affect you beyond just physically and financially, but emotionally too. Be sure to grieve completely then move on. If it takes help, get it. After rehab it’s important to do all you can to improve working with what you have. Improving your physical abilities within those limits will not only help you become stronger and feel better, but will allow you to adapt to your challenges. Addressing any lingering emotional issues means less “baggage” in the background as you go after new options.
Advancing your education/ certification may help you in finding employment and opportunities. For instance, as a NP you may find great use for your direct patient care skills. There are many examples of nurses who are or who have become dependent on assistive aids who work in direct care. Opportunities may be found in areas related to bedside care e.g. in case management in a facility or in a related industry such as health insurance. Pharmacological companies, prosthetics manufacturers and similar industries plus state and federal agencies now routinely hire nurses for advisory roles. Educational institutions have nursing positions in clinical research as well as in the healthcare education programs.
Consider how your interests and background may suit you for a role that will expand your horizons, and possibly your potential income as well if you need to offset the costs of more education. If stamina-building aka “work-hardening” is an issue for you, one or more part-time positions may work better short-term. Your state’s vocational rehabilitation agency provide opportunities for you, if it’s not underfunded/ overloaded. In my experience, if agency lacks resources, and you need to gradually rebuild your ability to work regularly, volunteering your skills there as an advocate/ educator for the agency’s clientele has benefits beyond the obvious ones. The time you invest can be flexible and your communication skills and knowledge will be appreciated greatly in that setting.
It took me a while to understand and to learn how to use the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the federal and state resources connected to it effectively. (BTW, July 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the law.) In healthcare institutions, ADA and its enforcement are poorly understood but the situation is improving slowly as awareness grows. The use of adaptive devices like canes, WC, prosthetics, etc. may make us obvious, but patient acceptance is often better than that of colleagues and administrators!

I would suggest also that you search online for national professional organizations for nurses with disabilities, such as NOND, and other websites/ articles concerned with how to best function as a nurse with a disability. This was another aspect it took me years to do, but the sense of community and advice you will gain is exceptional. Individuals with disabilities who aspire to be nurses need our support as well. Involvement in organizations and sites for healthcare providers needing adaptations in order to practice can range from very basic awareness to activism but you will have choices and support, something you may not feel you have now.
Please do not let repeated refusals from administrators and recruiters to discourage you in your search for work. Prepare yourself mentally and physically to demonstrate that you can do the work, with reasonable accommodations if necessary, and be fully aware of how ADA applies in your unique situation. Nurses present new concepts to unreceptive audiences as an inevitable part of our practice. Keep that in mind as you search for employment and use your skills to overcome the resistance. It won’t be easy, but you’re already dealing with “not easy”. Search for and reach out to those of us in healthcare who know what you deal with daily. I think you’ll find There are diverse professionals ready and willing to assist you.

My journey began when I was injured while working as an ED nurse. I do miss it, terribly so on some days. It’s been 20+ years. Eventually I made the transition to nursing education. I have a full-time, niche job I enjoy, retaining nursing students in their degree program. The accommodations of my multiple disabilities include adjustments in scheduling and specialized office equipment. On tough days it’s helpful to recall that now I have the encouragement of my division chair and many of the faculty, plus the support of the institution’s disability services coordinator. There is hope for you as well.

BxRN718, ADN, BSN

Specializes in ER/MS Tele/ Oncology. Has 8 years experience.

Hi everyone ,

I just wanted to report that I was finally able to find a permanent position within the hospital as a case manager 😊 after many years of applications and failed interviews I was finally hired ! I was able to find a job in telehealth first and then hired on as a case manager 😊 thanks everyone for their advance and just wanted to let everyone know not to ever give up and things will happen with persistence . 
 

have a blessed holiday ! And praying for good things for 2021 😊😊

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Congratulations and good luck for your future endeavors in the New Year. Stay safe.

Quest5, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Student Retention. Has 24 years experience.

Congratulations! That’s superb! ‘Best wishes for your continued growth and success in 2021! 

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

On 12/24/2020 at 8:52 PM, BxRN718 said:

Hi everyone ,

I just wanted to report that I was finally able to find a permanent position within the hospital as a case manager 😊 after many years of applications and failed interviews I was finally hired ! I was able to find a job in telehealth first and then hired on as a case manager 😊 thanks everyone for their advance and just wanted to let everyone know not to ever give up and things will happen with persistence . 
 

have a blessed holiday ! And praying for good things for 2021 😊😊

Truly happy for you. Best wishes in your new position.