Nurses with Disabilities Find On-the-Job Support
Linda Childers / Monster Contributing Writer
While working as a nurse in today’s healthcare world can be stressful enough, nurses with disabilities can face additional on-the-job challenges, including colleagues who may not feel they are capable of doing the work and needing assistance in a job that often requires strength and stamina. However, by making some adjustments, nurses with disabilities can continue to practice their profession.
Cary Jo Cook, RN, first began experiencing joint problems in junior high school. The pain eventually got so bad that she began seeing doctors who diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis. Medications didn’t work and soon Cook began taking Remicade infusions.
“I thought that was the beginning of the end of my career,” Cook says. “I struggled with fatigue constantly, so I eventually had to cut my hours — up until that point I had been working beyond full-time while raising a teenage boy as a single parent.”
Cook remembers encountering many on-the-job obstacles as a result of her disability, but never feeling comfortable enough to ask her superiors for special accommodations.
“I believed that asking for help would have been a problem,” she says. “Staffing was so tight that I saw colleagues getting in trouble for calling in sick.”
Cook did ask her coworkers to help with actions such as opening a blister pack or spiking an IV, and always returned the favor.
“It was relationship-based assistance rather than required by accommodations,” she says. “When I knew every day would be a struggle, I chose to move on.”