Should I tell nursing school I have a hearing loss?

by alwaysfaithful (New) New

I recently got accepted to nursing school. I was very excited when I received a letter regarding acceptance. Now, I am worried and nervous to tell them that I have a slight hearing loss. Should I tell them or should I wait it out and see if I can get through with it without telling them? It worries me that I will say "huh?" and "what?" alot and the instructors would not like that. Especially if you are dealing with a life-death situation. Any advice on what I should do would be amazing. Thanks!!


180 Posts

speaking as an older guy who is slightly deaf in both ears as a reuslt of an earlier life in which i used to blow a lot of stuff up, i can say that what you need to do depends on your actual loss level. if you have mild loss, place yourself in the front of all classes and close to your instrustors. they will interpret this as increased interest, and you will get better grades. if you have difficulty in any given classroom setting speak to the instructor privately, apologising for your hearing loss and indicating what you are doing to compensate for it. they will generally be very understanding and helpful if you apporach them personally.

you could go to your school administration and request an accomodation, but that is prolly more than you need to do. your choice.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 45 years experience. 13,469 Posts

I agree that it depends on the level of your loss ... and the degree to which it will effect your communication. Though ... I tend to believe that openness and honesty is usually the best policy.

I have a hearing loss for which I need minimal accommodation -- and I prefer to tell everyone about it so that they don't misunderstand when I ask them repeat something or request a helpful seating arrangement, etc. That works fine for me.

I have a colleague with a similar loss who has chosen not to tell anybody about it. She told me years ago because she was surprised that I was so open about mine. Well ... it effects her communication with people and most people think she is a bit "strange" and find her irritating to be around. I think she would be much better off is she just told people and dealt with her hearing problems in an open, straightforward way. Our colleagues would probably be more understanding and supportive of her if they knew of her struggles to hear.

I usually say something like, "It's usually no big deal, but I may have to say 'What?' sometimes if the conditions aren't good for hearing."

Note that I am not a student ... but I think the same human dynamics would apply.


Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education. 1 Article; 1,796 Posts

Your school can't accommodate your needs if you don't make those needs known. If I were your instructor, I would want to know.

Congratulations on getting accepted to nursing school and please keep us posted on how you're doing!


38,332 Posts

Only let them know if you will need accommodations or assistance in getting that front row seat if your loss is significant enough. Most people have only a slight loss that doesn't need to be discussed on a daily basis.


7 Posts

Wow, thank you ALL for your advices. I usually sit in front of the class and when I was in college, all my instructors knew because I was open to it. Although, I am getting into a more serious career that determines my career life, I do not want to mess it up.

As far as accommodations, I do not need any services such as interpeters or note takers because I am capable of doing that myself. I can also speak well. I just have a fear that they will reject me or kick me out if I do tell them about the hearing loss. Also, I agree that honesty is the best policy, I am just nervous to tell them in a way that I would not get the response I would be hoping for. So, time will tell all when I start.

Thanks again everyone!!!

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 45 years experience. 13,469 Posts

Have you selected a stethescope yet? That will be a big thing for you as you will need to hear subtle differences in breath sounds, heart sounds, etc. I don't use a special stethescope for people with hearing loss, but many nurses do. I suggest you do your research on that and get a good stethescope that will work for you BEFORE you need to use it. It could take a few weeks to do the research and get the right one, and you wouldn't want to miss those school activities in the meantime.

That is ... assuming that you will need one, of course.


44 Posts

I have some mild hearing loss in both ears. For the longest time, I always tried to hide it for fear of being labeled or treated differently, but I've learned that it's almost always better to talk about it so people don't just assume you are being rude. Have you considered hearing aids? I can do without them, but I choose to wear them in nursing situations just because I feel more secure and you don't have to ask people to repeat themselves as much. I have an amplified stethoscope, too. I still feel judged sometimes, I'm not going to lie, but I still think it's better to be upfront. That said, when applying to jobs, you are not legally required to disclose your hearing loss. In my opinion, it makes more sense to wait until after you are offered a position to let HR know that you have some hearing loss and may require accommodations (if you even do). Why create an unnecessary opportunity for discrimination? You can check out this website, too: It's for medical professionals with hearing impairment. There is some good info that is both helpful and reassuring. Here is the link to the page specifically for nurses/students: There is a section regarding disclosure. It lists questions that you may be asked upon disclosure. Hope this helps. Best of luck!


7 Posts

llg: I have not selected a stethescope yet but have been researching it. I will select one soon. Once school starts, I will be able to determine the best one for me.

funrun06: did you tell the nursing school that you had a hearing loss when you were a student? and are you currently working as a nurse? and thank you for those websites, they were helpful. I do have hearing aids-i havent been wearing them but I should start to get comfortable wearing them again. thanks again!!


27 Posts

One of my classmates in nursing school was in a similar position, when he informed the school about his hearing loss they actually provided him an amazing stethoscope. I can't remember the exact one but I believe it was one of the Littmann fancy ones that cardiologists use. Perhaps your school provides the same or similar service?


Specializes in Public Health. Has 6 years experience. 229 Posts

First off, congratulations on getting into nursing school!

" I just have a fear that they will reject me or kick me out if I do tell them about the hearing loss. "

They can't kick you out because of your hearing loss, that would be discrimination.

During nursing school, I sat near the front of the classroom. I did tell my instructors about my hearing loss if there was an issue, otherwise I didn't say much. I was never penalized for it in any way whatsoever.

As for my career, I haven't had many issues, except when it comes to hearing some coworkers. It's generally difficult for me to hear my female coworkers sometimes, but I'm pretty open about my hearing loss. Most know to speak up when talking to me, and I'm not shy about asking them to repeat themselves or speak louder.

I've worked in the ICU setting since graduating nursing school, and my biggest issue was dealing with the various noises/beeps that come with the ICU environment. What's great about most of the alarm settings and IV pumps is that you can often increase the alarm volume if you need to. I have yet to really do this since most alarms are annoyingly loud enough at their default setting. Other than that I've been fine, even in emergency situations. Most people tend to talk louder during those situations anyway.

I wear hearing aids in both ears, and have since a young age. During interviews I never brought it up, but would answer questions about it if asked.

Best of luck!


23 Posts

Honesty. Tell them. They want to know. If your hearing loss causes you any problems later they will be less likely to be lenient. Tell them up front.