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Can I be an RN with a stutter and diabetes?

Nurse Beth   (108 Views 1 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

14 Followers; 88 Articles; 226,968 Visitors; 1,782 Posts

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I am a nursing student going into my first clinicals next semester and I have some considerations. 
First off, I’m a type 1 diabetic (since I was 2, 27 years now). I have pretty good control, it needs to get better for sure. I’m worried that it will negatively affect clinicals, and my career going forward. I don’t want to be perceived as the fragile nurse that can’t keep up, whether true or not remains to be seen. How should I handle this going forward? Do you have any experiences with nurses who had illnesses/diseases that may have affected their work, and what did they do? 

Secondly, and even more psychologically disruptive, is that I have a stutter. It’s very mild and it’s a block (meaning I can’t physically get out a word every now and then, worse under stress). How do I react to doctors, nurses, supervisors, and/or patients who respond negatively to me stuttering or even if I need an extra break to raise my bg? 

Do you have any advice on how to handle these issues, as well as any nursing units that would be a good fit for me? 

Dear How to Handle,

Congrats on starting nursing school!

The key to your success is managing your diabetes and your stuttering. As far as stuttering, if you can be understood the majority of the time, you will probably be OK. Consider working with a speech therapist. Keep in mind that most people will give you space and grace if you can't get a word out occasionally. At least I hope that has been your experience.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with diabetes. Pre-employment offer, an employer may not ask if you have diabetes, and you do  not have to disclose that you have diabetes. 

Post-hire, an employer is allowed to ask you about your diabetes once you are working and if you cannot safely perform your job functions.

You may choose to disclose that you have diabetes if you decide to ask for any reasonable work accommodations.  You can wait until after being hired to disclose and request. A example of an accommodation may be a place to rest while your blood sugar normalizes, or an extra break to eat a snack or hydrate. 

I think the degree to which both your diabetes and your stuttering affect your performance is the best predictor of your success as an RN. You say your stutter is mild, and keep in mind that many successful doctors have accents that are best described as "heavy", not mild. Likewise, many nurses from other countries speak less than fluent English. 

I wish you the very best in school, and afterwards as an RN.

There is a great site for you to check out, the exceptional nurse.  

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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