Nursing Student: Can a Person with a Trach Work in the Hospital?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I recently found out that I would need a permanent tracheostomy. I have one more semester left of nursing school (rn) before I graduate, but I have taken a leave from school to work out all of this health stuff. I don't know when exactly I will get it, but I am trying to push it off as long as possible. I am still mobile and everything else is fine, but I would be hooked up to ventilation about 20 hrs of the day. My pulm said that I could actually be mobile with the vent.

    Can a person with a tracheostomy actually work in the hospital? The whole cross contamination seems like it could be a huge liability to the patients. Is there something I could go into right from graduation that I could work as an RN with the tracheostomy?


    Dear Needs a Trach,

    I'm sorry for your medical problems and applaud your spirit.

    The most important thing for you now is to take care of your health and adjust to your abilities and limitations. Give yourself time to stabilize.

    Nurses with medical histories and disabilities can make powerful connections with patients. I don't have an employment answer per se, and you are right, it may not be in acute care, but there are so many options in nursing.

    An at home setting would be ideal, such as working for an insurance company.

    I would find a community of nurses such as yourself for support and advice.

    I do have a great resource for you: Exceptional Nurse | Welcome
    This is a site run by Donna Maheady, an RN with expertise in nurses with disabilities. You will be inspired and amazed by her help and insight.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,406; Likes: 4,209


  3. by   Donna Maheady
    Dear needs a trach,

    I agree with Beth totally...first you need to take care of your health!

    I applaud your commitment and continued interest in working as a nurse.

    Just think of how many people you could have a positive impact on. What a role model!

    Honestly, I don't think acute care will be an option. But, I have a few alternative options for you to consider.

    You could:

    Facilitate an online support group for people with trachs.

    Develop educational materials for patients and families.

    Provide online training to families with technology dependent children.

    Work for a tracheostomy equipment vendor…. Make recommendations/answer patient questions regarding supplies and equipment.

    Work for an insurance company doing case management.

    Write a book about your experiences as a nurse and patient.

    Work for a non-profit such as the American Cancer Society or Lung Association.

    Write a blog for people with tracheostomies or health care professionals.

    Start a nonprofit to assist patients and families.

    Teach nursing online.

    Develop continuing education programs for nurses, respiratory therapists and first responders regarding tracheostomies, tracheostomy care and emergency interventions.

    Tutor nursing students online.

    Work for a camp for children with tracheostomies.

    Consult with school districts about services/inclusion of children with trachs in schools.

    Please get involved with other nurses with disabilities. They can offer you so much support!

    I wish you all the best and please feel free to contact me at any time.

    Donna Maheady
  4. by   MeMyself-n-I
    thanks for posting this sure it will be agreat resource for me. Im disabled, and have challenges of my own. Had a stroke some years back.
  5. by   Cassiburtram
    Dear needs a trach,
    yes, you can absolutely work in the hospital with a trach. I had a trach all through nursing school with no problems.
  6. by   Nurse Beth
    Quote from Cassiburtram
    Dear needs a trach,
    yes, you can absolutely work in the hospital with a trach. I had a trach all through nursing school with no problems.
    Thank you! Can you share where you've worked?
  7. by   Donna Maheady
    Thanks for asking about which hospital Beth. I have the same question.
  8. by   Wuzzie
    Quote from Cassiburtram
    Dear needs a trach,
    yes, you can absolutely work in the hospital with a trach. I had a trach all through nursing school with no problems.
    But were you on a ventilator too?
  9. by   sherri64
    My girlfriend has a step daughter who had to have a trach due to structural deterioration and closing up. After a month or two, she had a T-tube put in and she went back to work in a nursing home as a charge nurse. We don't understand how she can do that or how it even works so she can speak and eat. And we are both nurses who have taken care of patients with trachs but they needed suctioning and a lot more care. So this is new to us. We have both been away from floor nursing for about 5 years. So they are obviously doing things we don't know about. Thanks.
  10. by   Workitinurfava
    I have never seen this case. Sorry that you have to have this done. Are you sure nursing will work into your plans? You will need an office job, which will may require some floor nursing skills.
  11. by   cleback
    Wow, this post is inspiring...

    From my understanding and experience, I would be more concerned about working while needing ventilator support than infection risk. I have not heard of a mobile support system, but I would love learn about it if there is one. Unfortunately, I could not see being a traditional floor nurse carrying a ventilator device.

    However, I echo the other poster's points that the OP, no matter what setting, will have a unique and special way to connect with patients. S/he will have a rewarding career.
  12. by   kristier
    Wow. You are a really amazing person. You are still striving to get your RN so you can help others, while fighting through huge physical obstacles, yourself. Wishing you all the best! Beth is right, take care of yourself first, then go get that degree and help others in whatever capacity you find interesting. You will be an asset wherever you go.
  13. by   LadysSolo
    I have a friend with a permanent trach, he is not on oxygen (he is also not a health care worker,) and he just wears a bib over the trach stoma to keep debris out. So I think a bit more information is needed about what the nurse-to-be will require - oxygen or not, ventilator or not, suctioning or not, etc.
  14. by   Cassiburtram
    I did my clinicals as a nursing student in many different facilities including acute care hospitals, psychiatric units, and long term care facilities. Yes, I was also on the ventilator off and on. I was fortunate enough to have my trach reversed my final semester of nursing school.