Sunday, February 18, 2018

Nursing students with disabilities: Is your campus assault prevention program inclusive?

A study, conducted by the National Council on Disability, a federal agency, suggests that undergraduates with a disability are more likely to be sexually assaulted than are their peers without a disability, and that colleges don’t know how to support them.
About 31.6 percent of female undergraduates with a disability reported having been sexually assaulted, compared with 18.4 percent of undergraduate women without a disability, the study found.
“Sexual assault has become a topic of concern on campuses and with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, but seldom has the conversation included consideration of the needs of college students with disabilities,” said Wendy Harbour, a member of the council and director of the National Center for College Students With Disabilities, in a news release.
The study, described in a report titled “Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students With Disabilities,” is the first federally funded examination of how the needs of sexual-assault victims with disabilities are treated in colleges’ policies and procedures.
“Campus assault prevention and education programs are not inclusive of students with disabilities,” the report says, “and college staff lack awareness that such programs should be accessible to students with disabilities, and staff are not trained in disability accommodations.”

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to read your thoughts, experiences or suggestions.

With thanks,


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Access to RN-BSN programs for nurses who use wheelchairs

A nurse who uses a power wheelchair shared the following story:

I was recently accepted into an RN to BSN program. I have an incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI) from an accident. I use a power wheelchair, drive a modified van and do not require any accommodations for writing, computer or telephone use. I am also Minimum Data Set (MDS) certified.

I was officially accepted into the nursing program. The program never asked about my disability or shared any technical standards.

I attended the first week of classes and was told, "you can't be a nurse because you don't meet the college's technical standards." There is a small component of the program that includes a clinical experience and they said I wouldn't be able to participate as, "I must be able to ambulate without any assistive device".

So many questions to ask about this situation?????

You "can't be a nurse". She is a nurse!!!!!

Isn't this screaming discrimination?

What about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and reasonable accommodation?

The clinical portion of an RN-BSN program is typically in a community accommodation would certainly be possible.

What about totally online RN-BSN programs?

What would you advise this nurse to do?

With thanks in advance!


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Can I become a nurse with my lower arm missing?

Angelica Baeza, SN

Recently, I received the following email from a nursing student.

Good afternoon.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Angelica Baeza and I'm a new Nursing 1 student currently attending Orange County Community College in Newburgh, NY. I was born without the lower portion of my left arm. It's never interfered in any given task, but now as I go into the second week of Nursing 1, the questions arises, "Can I actually become a nurse?" Everything in my heart and soul is telling me "yes" but obviously I'm scared and nervous. I only wish to succeed and master all the skills necessary to achieve my goals!

Angelica also sent me the following videos of "Donning and removal of PPE". In one video she is practicing skills at home and in another one she is practicing in the car while her girls are in math tutoring!

In my view.....she's got this one!!!!!!!!

Love to read your thoughts.

With thanks,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Nurses who are d/Deaf: Breaking boundaries and changing perceptions

Helen Cherry

The Royal College of Nursing's magazine reported on the experiences of nurses
 in the United Kingdom who are d/deaf. Helen Cherry was included in the article. 

In 1977, Helen Cherry became one of the first deaf people to begin nurse training. Helen has severe to profound deafness, meaning that she has little to no hearing without the benefit of hearing aids.... 
Helen's career flourished and in the late 80s she followed a lifelong dream to travel, moving overseas to work firstly in Australia and then India in early HIV/AIDS projects. One of the many roles she undertook was heading up a team in Tasmania that was tracing haemophiliacs who had unknowingly contracted HIV through infected blood. She went on to present a paper on integrated patient care between Volunteer HIV/AIDS services and Royal District Nurses services at the 4th international AIDS conference in Canberra.

“Being deaf didn't stop me from my ambition to work overseas and experience more of the world. I hope my experiences will encourage other D/deaf nurses to realise what they can achieve”.

Helen is currently working in education, co-facilitating sessions in health and social care at London Southbank University’s innovative People’s Academy. “I think people with diverse disabilities bring a wealth of their own experience to nursing”.

Jackie Wan who is a Deaf community nurse who works within the Deaf Adult Community Team (DACT) at Springfield University Hospital, which provides inpatient and outpatient mental health services to D/deaf children and adults... 

In 2016, Jackie won the Best Deaf Role Model award for her work supporting D/deaf people and being a leading example of what D/deaf people can achieve.

Read more about Helen, Jackie and other d/deaf nurses who are breaking down boundaries and changing perceptions!



Monday, December 18, 2017

Self defense and responsible gun ownership for a nurse amputee

Carolyn McKinzie, LPN

It’s been a little more than 16 years since I lost my right lower leg following a car accident.  I didn’t lose it right away. I went through numerous surgeries over the next 2 years. Sadly, it never healed solid the way I had hoped.  I was 32 when I was injured and 35 when I had my leg amputated.  Fortunately for me, I’ve always been fairly independent so I’ve done very well over the years in keeping and maintaining a home by myself.

I’ve been able to work part-time, off and on at various jobs in health care.  My primary role has been that of an LPN, but after my accident I soon learned that working full time in an LPN job wouldn’t be a realistic goal.  I did great with my prosthesis, but I  wasn’t able to work a full shift on my feet. I had some jobs that were great and some I failed at miserably---but I continue to try to do the work I love!

I’ve been single for a lot of years and grown accustomed to dealing with things alone, but recently I started thinking about my own personal safety and how I would protect myself in a dangerous, life-threatening situation.  

It didn’t just come into my head out of the blue.

I moved into a small house in the country, located on a dead-end road.  There were neighbors across the road but at such a distance I could barely see them moving around outside.  The next closest house was hidden by a line of thick pine trees.  I loved the privacy and the quiet area and felt lucky to have come across such a great rental opportunity. Initially, the landlord was very kind, but not long after I moved in he did something that I really took offense to.  He was so proud of himself when he told me that he had touched base with 3 of the nearest neighbors and let them know there was a single, disabled woman renting his house.

I was instantly and totally angry at him.  I told him the last thing I needed was for word to get around that there was a helpless female living there and I didn’t appreciate him setting me up for a bad situation that could potentially be a detriment to my own personal safety and well-being.  I was very unnerved that he had spewed my story to people I didn’t even know. 

I don’t think I ever considered my vulnerability as a disabled woman until that day.  I didn’t like the feeling at all.

After that, I found myself being spooked by every little sound I heard after getting into bed at night.  I sleep with my prosthetic leg off and I’m medicated so I don’t have phantom pain in my sleep.  I felt like a sitting duck and knew if there was to ever be a home invasion, burglary or other intrusive scenario I would be helpless to protect myself and at the mercy of whomever might strike in the darkness.

When I was a kid, my dad and brother hunted and had guns that were kept in a locked gun cabinet.  I didn’t really have an interest in firearms, I think primarily because that was a “guy thing” when I was growing up in the 70’s. 

Fortunately for me, I have a friend who was in the military and has a concealed carry permit.  He carries his gun everywhere it is allowed but mainly has it for home protection.  He encouraged me to arm myself, but I knew nothing about guns and felt I would be a bigger danger to myself than to anyone else.  My friend took it upon himself to educate me about handguns, signed me up for a gun safety class and helped me to buy a 9mm handgun.

I completed the NRA endorsed safety class in a day. I was very nervous about actually shooting the gun because I had no idea how much kick there would be and/or if it would be enough to make me lose my balance and fall.  At the end of the class, we went out to the shooting range and fired a dozen shots at various targets. Thankfully, the kick from shooting wasn’t nearly as strong as I feared it might be so I never lost my balance. I hit bullseyes from 30 feet. I give credit for that to the red dot laser that came on my gun when I bought it.  I hope I will never need to fire at a person that far away; I got it for self-protection at night when I am least able to defend myself.

When I got my certificate in my hand, I realized what a huge step I had taken……it made me feel safe and empowered.  I didn’t feel like the sitting duck as I had before.  

I think single women always have some amount of worry when living alone, as far as having to possibly deal with an intruder in their home.  But when you have a physical impairment, the worry is even greater.  Just being ready was a victory for me!

I’m very fortunate to live in Maine where the overall crime rate is low in comparison to other states in New England.  But drug use here is high and many drug users will do anything they can to obtain drugs, money or property to sell for cash.  This includes home invasions.  In a 2015 report published on the Disabled World website (, it states the disabled and elderly people are the easiest targets for victimizing, since they are often unable to retreat from any type of “attack”.  A firearm is the best defense, provided the user has been properly trained and is proficient with its use.  Otherwise, there is a significant chance of their gun being used AGAINST them.

Gun ownership may not be the best option for everyone with a disability, but self-defense training is important for all. For information on safety training for individuals with disabilities and persons needing adaptive shooting solutions, visit the NRA’s Adaptive Shooting Program website at Self defense classes are also offered by colleges, police departments, nonprofit organizations, martial arts businesses and local municipalities.

Carolyn McKinzie, the Amputee Nurse Consultant, can be reached at: or

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2017 Top 10 blog posts about nurses with disabilities

As we look back on 2017, let's revisit the top 10 Exceptional Nurse blog posts about nurses with disabilities. 

                                       Silent No More! Nurse beaten and raped!
Attorneys representing two nurses and a nurse’s husband called a press conference to counter official statements that nurses taken hostage at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital were not injured in a May 13 incident in which a jail inmate was shot dead by a SWAT team. The horrific events at Delnor Hospital cannot be forgotten or pushed under the rug. Nurses need to stand together for much needed change.
Breath of a nurse with a tracheostomy
Michelle DiGiacomo, LPN
My trach is a part of me, like being brunette, short in stature or female, but it alone does not define me.  I am the sum of all of my parts. So you will never hear me trying to deny my trach, hide it or eliminate it from the equation.  Sometimes, people with disabilities, in their fight for equality, want others to ignore their issues in the hope of being treated like everyone else. But we are not like everyone else. One might even argue, we are in some ways better, stronger, more determined, resilient and empathetic. I will use my trach and any tool in my arsenal—everything I am and every breath I take--- to be the best nurse that I can be.
Listen up! What not to say to a nurse or nursing student with a disability
A group of nurses and nursing students with disabilities was asked to share comments made to them. Responses included the following:
"Maybe this is God's way of saying you shouldn't be a nurse."
"You will not be able to work as a nurse."

Permanent hearing loss as a Mom and nurse: What do I do about...?
Sarah Matacale, RN
I AM A NURSE in my heart and soul.  So what do I do about…???….I grieve, get mad and frustrated, bargain, beg, pray and cry a lot. Then, I put on my big girl panties and went back to school for medical documentation, billing and coding.  I took and passed my CCS exam; I opened myself to finding another passion.

From nurse to patient to disabled nurse

Danielle Fullen, RN
 I have been diagnosed chronic lower back pain, degenerative disc disease, lumbar radiculopathy, lower extremity radiculopathy, spondylolisthesis, spinal fracture (L5), spinal stenosis, lumbar pseudo arthritis, herniated disc (L4-L5), lumbar discogenic syndrome, post laminectomy syndrome, spinal hemangioma, and left hip bursitis.
Through all this excruciating pain, I remain positive.  Positive that one day, I will have some relief and get back to work in nursing, as a nursing instructor.

Helen Lindsey, BSN a quadruple amputee working to get her nursing license back
Helen lost her arms and legs to bacterial meningitis but not her passion for helping others. She is an Army veteran who received her BSN from Winston-Salem State University.
According to in Winston-Salem, N.C.: She is currently working toward getting her nursing license back, and she will be the first student in the state's nursing re-entry program to have a disability to this extent.

Anita Lesko, a nurse with Asperger's syndrome invited to World Autism Day at the United Nations
Anita Lesko has Asperger's syndrome. She is a nurse anesthetist, military aviation photojournalist, author, public speaker, advocate and founder of a non profit organization...and now invited speaker at the United Nations!

The nurse with dementia: Where do we go from here?
Gail Weatherhill, RN, BSN
The British Royal College of Nursing (RCN) recently shocked many by passing a resolution that nurses with dementia should be supported to continue practicing as long as possible. Their reasoning was that most fears of these nurses constituted discrimination based on old prejudices and misconceptions.

Army nurse set on fire by a colleague wants to resume career
In September 2016, First Lieutenant Katie Ann Blanchard, a nurse in the Army serving at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas, was set on fire and attacked by a colleague. Almost 20 percent of her body was severely burned, including her entire face and ears, and parts of her arm and chest.

For nursing students with learning disabilities: Is speed associated with ability?
Jamie Axelrod, AHEAD President and Nicole Ofiesh, Ph.D., Learning and Education Specialist, Lecturer, Stanford University wrote a letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education in response to an article by Ari Trachtenberg titled Extra Time on an Exam: Suitable Accommodation or Legalized Cheating?

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

#Giving Tuesday! We are raising money for scholarships for nursing students with disabilities

Exceptional Nurse is raising money to support our scholarship program for nursing students with disabilities. 

Can you help? All donations large or small are welcomed!

Thank you!


Please visit the website to donate.