Welcome to the Exceptional Nurse Blog! I am Donna Maheady, EdD, ARNP, founder of www.ExceptionalNurse.com, the nonprofit resource committed to inclusion of people with disabilities in nursing. We facilitate inclusion of students with disabilities in nursing education programs and foster resilience and continued practice for nurses who are, or become, disabled. We celebrate abilities, share resources and examples of nurses with disabilities who work with and without accommodations.
Let's face it...being a nurse is a tough job. And, we all need to take some time to care for ourselves so we can continue to care for others. But, what about our colleagues with disabilities who are working with additional challenges? Imagine working a 12-hour shift as a staff nurse walking on a prosthetic leg? Or, being a nurse with a hearing loss reading lips for 12 hours. Think of all the nurses working with chronic back pain. Or, struggling with mental health issues. Self-care may be particularly important for some of these nurses. Some suggestions for nurses with disabilities include:
Take the long way home and enjoy a new view. Get or give yourself a facial. Call an old friend. Try a laughter yoga class. http://www.laughteryoga.org/english/home
Take a bubble bath. Get an adult coloring book and start coloring. Watch a funny movie. Buy flowers for yourself or stop and pick some wild flowers.
Go to the library and get a good book to read. Join a support group for nurses with disabilities.
Recognize that you are entitled to take a break and care for yourself. Why? Because You Matter!
As a former Brownie and Girl Scout, I am so excited to share the news about this Girl Scout patch. Bravo to the Girls Scouts and the International Bipolar Foundation!
The International Bipolar Foundation patch is available to all scouting organizations. It originated with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, but it has also been distributed to American Heritage Girls, Girl Guides, and others.
"With the increase in youth bullying, suicide, and drug use, Girl Scouts are actively fighting to create change. Through a program to educate and reduce the stigma of mental illness, Girl Scouts can earn the Mental Health Awareness Patch developed by us for playing a positive role in their communities.
With approximately 1 in 4 people in the U.S. diagnosed with a mental illness, awareness of those impacted is also growing.
The opportunity to learn about mental health is consistent with the Girl Scout organization's dedication to the health and well-being of all girls. In earning the patch, scouts:
Learn how the brain impacts mental health.
Explore how discrimination against those with a mental health condition makes it difficult to seek help.
Learn about many great achievers who experienced mental illness.
Research how mental health is portrayed in the media.
Create anti-stigma campaign activities."
Click the link below to access the activity packet and learn more about how to earn the patch. http://tinyurl.com/nnodnsb This could be an opportunity for nurses with mental health challenges to help Girl Scouts earn patches. Nurses with mental health or other challenges challenges could also gain valuable volunteer experience.
Courtney Powell has been fighting against dysautonomia and gastroparesis since early childhood. Five million people are fighting this battle with her. This August, we want to help bring awareness to digestive tract paralysis. In addition, we want to congratulation Courtney Powell on the work she is doing and her recent graduation with her BSN. She is now a registered nurse!
BravoCourtney, BSN, RN !!! Please watch this video about Courtney's life and share with others!!
Ever wonder what it is really like to sue your employer? Melissa Brown, otherwise known as the Guerrilla Nurse, is a retired RN
living in Pensacola, Florida.
For 37 years, she practiced as an RN in various clinical areas including
emergency, flight nursing, critical care, and psychiatric/substance abuse settings. In May of 2013, Melissa was fired from her position as an RN at Lakeview ASU in
Pensacola, Florida. With the help and support of her husband, she was able to do
what most nurses can’t do. She sued!
After her deposition on April 9, 2015, she learned she wouldn’t be able to obtain
a copy due to the cost: nearly $600.00! She started a "GoFundMe" page. Within two weeks, she raised the funds.
Melissa promised she would post the deposition online if she could raise the funds.
And here it is! We are grateful and proud of Melissa's courage to go public in an effort to help others in similar situations. Click on the link below to read more and access the deposition.
students with a wide range of disabilities are increasing in number every year. Disabilities
may include hearing loss, low vision, learning disabilities, limb differences, paralysis,
mental illness and chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and movement
an education can be a challenge for some students with disabilities. In
addition to routine expenses (tuition, room and board, books, uniforms, transportation), some students may
need to purchase an amplified or electronic stethoscope, computer software
programs, or audio books—as well as medications, hearing aids, therapies, prostheses,
special equipment or custom alterations to uniforms and lab coats. Working a
part-time job may not be possible.
Scholarships are available from ExceptionalNurse.com,
a nonprofit resource network for nursing students and nurses with disabilities.
The organization provides links to disability-related organizations,
technology, equipment, financial aid, employment opportunities, mentors, blogs,
continuing education, a speaker’s bureau, legal resources, social media, research
and related articles.
The organization has been awarding
scholarships to nursing students with disabilities since 2003. The awards are
based on academic performance, letters of recommendation, financial need and an
essay which answers the questions: “How do you plan to contribute to the
nursing profession? How will your disability influence your practice as a
nurse”? The awards range from $250.00-$500.00.
ExceptionalNurse.com is honored to announce the
winners for 2015!!!
Kirbi Arnold from Valdosta, Georgia will be attending Valdosta
State University in Georgia.
Kirbi wrote, “It wasn’t
until my third year of elementary school that I had to face another
surgery….This is when I discovered I wanted to be a nurse. The nurses that took
care of me were so patient and kind. I could tell they really cared about me.
They took time to explain to a 10 year old child what they were doing and why
they were doing it”.
Angela Stuive from Byron Center,
Michigan is attending the RN to BSN program at Michigan State University.
Angela wrote, “I was also scared. Could I do it? Will the professors
think I can do it? Will people accept me? Will patients accept me as a
competent nurse? Despite my fear, I jumped in. I sailed through both my
classroom and clinical courses with excellent grades and multiple semesters on
the Dean’s list….I had to take a lot of extra time in the lab practicing and
figuring out how to do things like give injections and take blood pressures
with one hand. I pressed on and graduated with my LPN”.
Simmons from Byron, New York will be attending St. John Fisher College in New
Katelyn wrote, “I believe the journey of navigating
through my own disability will serve as excellent experience to help me to
provide superior emotional support, and empathy for others as they cope with
disease, injuries, and disabilities of their own....I will never forget these
lessons I have learned from my own struggles, and will do my very best to “pay
forward” all the wonderful patience and support that I have received from
medical professionals over the years”.
Congratulations and best wishes to all!!!
The ExceptionalNurse.com scholarship
awards are funded through donations, grants and proceeds from book sales of “The
Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working
with disabilities”, “Leave No Nurse Behind: Nurses working with disabilities”
and “Nursing students with disabilities change the course”. To make a donation,
please visit www.ExceptionalNurse.com. The scholarship application can be downloaded at http://www.exceptionalnurse.com/pdf/exnurse-scholarship08.pdf