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Nurses with Disabilities Find On-the-Job Support

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.”

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    about 6 years ago


    I am a 36 year old who worked as a CNA and then had a stroke and was given a pacemaker/ difibulator implant now i want to go back to work and no one wants to hire me they arent saying that but i know its that because they think im a liability . I am starting nursing school in January an i hope the school wont have a problem with my disability .

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    I am a 57 year old nurse who was recently diagnosed with tendonitis of my left wrist. I happen to be left handed so of course writing is the cause of my ailment. I usually work the 7p-7a shift at an inpatient hospice so I don't have to do as much paperwork as say the day shift nurses. But with regs that say the RN must do all admissions and discharges I am left with tons of paperwork. since each admission takes 1-3 hours depending on how fast one can write. At nite I can do the paperwork at my leisure, so I manage.
    In the mid 60's when I was 15 I had a benign brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma. It was so expensive they had to remove part of my cerebellum, the part that controlled my left hand. I literally lost my mind and could not write !. I tried learning to write with my right hand, practicing diligently under the of my mom. but for some reason I found it easier to relearn to write with my left hand. My dabbling into ambidexterity was influenced by the difficulties of living in a right handed world, so when it became painful to write with my left hand I began trying to write with my right hand. It became easier to write with my right hand rather than doing the exercises physical therapy gave me, so I now do my paperwork with my right hand.
    I think I can find another job if my very sloppy handwriting ever became an issue. Meanwhile my fellow nurses help me out. For instance one nurse gives me his notes from report to save me from writing so much. I think there is too much paperwork in hospice anyway, but that they say is another story.

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