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.
Nursing students with disabilities: Faculty reflections from Access in Medical and Health Science Education Symposium
Michelle Hartman, DNP, RN, CPNP Duke University School of Nursing
As a faculty member at Duke
University School of Nursing, I teach in an Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing
Program. Teaching in this program affords me the opportunity to work with
diverse individuals who are transitioning into the nursing profession. I am in
awe of how students utilize and incorporate their ability and talents from
their previous academic studies, jobs, and life experiences into the
professional of nursing. I believe a more diverse workforce will ultimately
lead to better patient outcomes. My personal definition of “diversity” is
broader than the traditional categories of race, ethnicity, and gender; it also
includes sexual and gender identity, as well as individuals with disabilities.
As faculty, I am always
looking for ways to support our diverse students on their journey to becoming a
professional nurse. I had the opportunity in April to attend 4th Annual Access
in Health Science and Medicine Symposium which is sponsored by The Coalition
for Disability Access in Health Science and Medical Education. The symposium
featured topics such as the student experience, psychological disabilities,
documentation, international collaborations for inclusive campuses, assistive
technology, and policy and legal updates.
The most compelling
presentations for me were those done by students. By sharing their
perspectives, I was able to see how burdened they often become by serving as
the representative of students with disabilities. In this capacity as
ambassador or representative, they are asked to serve on committees, start
support groups, or work to resolve issues. As educators, the onus is on us to
shift that burden off the students as the energies expended on these efforts shift
their focus away from the inherent demands of health education programs. There
were also thought provoking discussions on mental health disabilities in health
and medical education settings and disclosure. A few other personal take home
messages for me included:
attitudes and cultures in medical and health education (specifically
perfectionism and the use of the biomedical model) are the greatest barriers to
the success of students with disabilities.
is crucial to changing the culture. We know that personal experiences and
stories are far more influential than data in shifting mindsets. Reading the
success stories of nurses and nursing students with disabilities is one of my
favorite parts of the Exceptional Nurses group!
·Get to know a
contact in your Student Disability Access Office! They are excellent resources
to faculty and students.
·Be cautious of
what and how you say something- our word choices can be interpreted as sources
of microaggression by students experiencing disabilities. It's important that
we maintain and open dialogue with our students, so they feel safe to share
when they experience microaggressions. We must acknowledge our areas for growth
and take accountability.
·There are many
forms of assistive technologies available to help students in the classroom and
clinical setting. Although it can be overwhelming, Joshua Hori (Accessible
Technology Analyst for Student Disability Center at the University of
California) has a great Trello board that presents an overview of many
available apps, software, and other programs: https://trello.com/b/rirGA3kZ/accessible-technology-software
I appreciate opportunities to
attend professional development trainings which stretch me to think, teach, and
act in different ways! I am looking forward to this upcoming semester when I
can incorporate what I learned into my teaching practice. With thanks to Dr. Hartman for this insightful guest blog post! Please share your thoughts below, Donna