Monday, December 7, 2015

Nurses and nursing students with disabilities: How to help vocational rehabilitation counselors help you!

In my new book, “The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities”, Cheryl Machemer, MSN, RN, CCRN-CSC presents a guide for requesting state vocational rehabilitation services. It may be possible to secure financial support for equipment (e.g. amplified stethoscope) or funds for tuition for a nursing program through your state vocational rehabilitation program. The guide organizes a request from a nurse or nursing student with hearing loss, but it could easily be adapted for any disability. The following is a brief summary of the guide.


Request for support from the (State)_________Vocational Rehabilitation Services Office

Name: _____________________________       Date:_________________

Contact Information: Email: ___________________ Phone: _________________________

Mailing Address: ___________________________________________


Nursing Student ___Professional Nurse___

Client/Case Number: ______________________

Describe your personal background/ situation. Why are you requesting services from Vocational Rehabilitation?

Education: Nursing Assistant_____ Licensed Practical Nurse______ Associate Degree______

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing_________  Master’s Degree in Nursing________


Type of Hearing Loss:

Assistive Devices used:

Stethoscope currently used:

Accommodations needed:

Current Employment:


Indicate the school you are currently attending or have applied to, date accepted and expected date of graduation.

Student or Nurse:

State your long-term career goals. Include any volunteer experience, places of employment and length time in each position, and any other information that may be helpful for the vocational rehabilitation counselor.

*** Include statistics, articles, books, and resources to strengthen your application. Attach scholarly journal articles documenting examples of nurses practicing with hearing loss or articles about nurses with hearing loss practicing in different roles.

Cheryl Machemer, MSN, RN, CCRN-CSC teaches nursing at the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences, Nursing Program, The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, Reading, PA. She was diagnosed with moderate to severe bilateral sensorineural hearing loss at the age of 40 and wears bilateral behind-the-ear hearing aids. Cheryl has a master’s of science degree in nursing. Her thesis examined the lived experience of the hearing-impaired nursing student. She is a board member and the nurse professional leader for the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses ( and member of Cheryl can be reached at

The complete guide can be found in Appendix C of “The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities” by Donna Maheady.

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