Friday, June 26, 2015

Good Things About Being a Nurse with a disability


     The American Journal of Nursing published an article called

"10 good things about being an older nurse" written by Alice

Facente, MSN, RN.

Alice lists:

        Older nurses have empathy and death isn't so frightening.

Older nurses are not easily fooled and not bothered by computer


       They have x-ray vision and tricks of the trade. In addition, they

collaborate, trust their personal judgment and appreciate the

energy and enthusiasm of new nurses. Older nurses also have a

sense of  humor.

       Since many nurses with disabilities are also "older" nurses,

does this list apply? Or, are there other good things to add to the


      Can you help develop a list of good things about being a

nurse with a any age?

        Please share your thoughts below.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

UW nursing student beat the odds

Please meet Eric Seitz...............

"It's a story of survival and decisions. It's also a story with a happy

ending. The middle part was rough. You'll see what I mean. The

happy part is this: The 30 year old class president of the UW

School of Nursing has just graduated. And so begins his next

chapter of life. It's a lot better than some of the previous chapters.

"He's done it all himself," his father David told us. "He did this.

With grants, scholarships, hard work.

He just committed himself to a completely different path."

Wait until you hear the path he was on. It began 12 years ago. He

was just 18 years old, and living on the streets."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Gift of life could help a nurse!

Ever think an organ donation could save the life of an aspiring nurse?

Think again....and meet Laurie Lukianov. 

Laurie was born with biliary atresia. As a toddler she made the

headlines when she became one of the first patients in the country

to receive a liver transplant from her father, a living donor.

At 13 years old, she needed a second liver transplant. It came from

an organ donor and resulted in a fight for her life.

She won the fight! 

Now she is the mother of a 6 year old boy, works in a local

emergency room and is finishing her first year of nursing school

at Brockton Hospital School of Nursing in Massachusetts.  

She plan to become a transplant nurse following graduation from

nursing school. Laurie is also an advocate for organ donation. Her

message is that the gift of life is never lost on the recipient.

Laurie's story was covered on ABC News

Have you signed up to become an organ donor? Learn more about organ donation at

Read more about Laurie at 

Please share this information about organ donation. What a

wonderful gift! And, who might even help a nurse!

Thank you!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Is it time for a hidden disability symbol?

Are you a nurse with an invisible disability?
Do you hear ..."But you don't look sick?" or "You

always look so good"?

Do people stare at you for using a handicapped parking space?
Do co-workers or administrators lack

understanding of your need for workplace accommodation?

Is it time for a hidden disability symbol for nurses and others with
invisible disabilities?

If you are interested in using this symbol or helping it become an international symbol, please visit the Hidden Disability Facebook page for details.

Sharing and commenting would be wonderful!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Interprofessional practice and reasonable accommodation for nurses with disabilities

              Definitions of interprofessional, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and inter-professional abound. What remains central to most definitions is the notion of “teamwork” among different professionals working toward a common goal. We often hear these terms used when professionals work together to improve patient care. Could we consider using this approach when a nurse with a disability requests reasonable workplace accommodation?

               Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a nurse with a disability can request reasonable accommodation from his or her employer. Typically, this request is submitted to nursing administration, the ADA compliance officer or Human Resources Department. Procedures for examining/granting/or denying a specific request can vary from one institution to the next.

               Interprofessional practice may be an individualized approach which could benefit the nurse with a disability, employer, decision makers and ultimately patient care. The accommodation request could be reviewed by a team of appropriate professionals and information and suggestions could be shared.

               Consider a nurse who presents a request for reasonable accommodation related to a hearing loss.  An interprofessional team might include a human resources staffer, attorney, audiologist, state vocational rehabilitation counselor and a nursing professor. Legal issues related to reasonable accommodation could be shared by the attorney. The audiologist could explain the type and degree of hearing loss and recommend appropriate stethoscopes that could enable the nurse to hear heart/lung/bowel sounds. The state vocational rehabilitation counselor could contribute information about the nurse’s rehabilitation plan and available resources. A nursing professor could share examples of how a nursing program accommodated nursing students with hearing loss in clinical settings. Consultation with the Association for Healthcare Professionals with Hearing Loss could also be included.

               Another nurse might present a request for reasonable accommodation because of a back injury related to lifting a patient.  An interprofessional team might include a human resources staffer, attorney, physical therapist and a nursing administrator. The human resources staffer could share openings in other departments and the cost of the loss of an experienced nurse vs the cost of a new hire. Legal issues could be presented by the attorney. The nursing administrator could share lifting requirements and the average number of squats per shift on various units. Safer handling initiatives could also be presented. A physical therapist could outline the nurse’s limitations and rehabilitation plan. Suggestions based on communication with the Department of Labor’s Job Accommodation Network could be shared as well.

               This team approach may prove to be time consuming. But, the effort offers the potential for a  win-win outcome for the nurse, employer and ultimately patient care.

      As the old proverb states………..many hands make light work!
Sharing this post or leaving a comment is all
 part of the team work needed!

This post was written as part of a blog carnival.
Want to read more on this topic?

Are you a nurse blogger? Want to participate in a blog carnival?
Learn more at

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Creating Disability Inclusive Work Environments For Our Aging Nursing Workforce

     The workforce is aging, and the implications of an older nursing
 workforce are profound. As nurses age, injuries and disabilities are
more prevalent. If disabilities were more commonly recognized and
accommodated in the design of our nursing work environments,
we could meet future needs. This article explores the literature on
accommodations for an aging workforce, reports disabilities
commonly seen in this population, and introduces universal design.

Matt SB, Fleming SE, Maheady DC. Creating disability inclusive work environments for our aging nursing workforce. JONA. 2015;45(6):325-330.

The article is a free download at:
Sharing and commenting is a wonderful idea!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Your Next Shift"...Elizabeth Scala's new book is a must read! Get a copy to keep under your pillow!


      Elizabeth, I found your book so uplifting and inspiring! The information works for nurses at any stage of their career. In my work with the nonprofit group, I hear from countless nurses with disabilities (multiple sclerosis, stroke survivors, hearing or vision loss, Lupus, Parkinson’s disease, amputees, mental illness) who are struggling to continue to practice in their current positions as well as those in search of new career paths.

DM: Often nurses with disabilities are at a “fork in the road”— struggling with the benefits and risks of disclosing a disability to colleagues and administrators. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations about the benefits and risk of disclosure? Often nurses are “scared silent”…afraid they will lose their job.

ES: Great question. And, one that can be difficult to answer. For me, staying silent is similar to muffling my authentic voice. It’s analogous to not being myself. One of my greatest values in life is showing up as a true and authentic expression of myself. Now that might not be everyone else’s value. To answer your question, Donna, I think that each nurse needs to do an honest assessment of themselves and their core values. If living life in an authentic way is something that is important to them, then disclosing is necessary. Because guess what? If we live our lives in lie we are only harming ourselves. Many of the physical symptoms of illness are simply manifestations of some other mental, emotional, or energetic imbalance. Our body attempts to get our attention in some really nifty ways. I understand that disclosing is difficult. Trust me; I have struggled with my own mental health issues from time-to-time as it runs in my family. If you are working in a place that values you as an individual, then disclosing in a safe way is the best option.

 DM: Nurses with disabilities who have asked for reasonable accommodations under the ADA (reduced hours, amplified telephones, flex-time, lifting restrictions, etc.) often report resentment from other nurses. Do you have any suggestions for improving situations like this? Could some of the issues be about the nurse with the disability and not the accommodations needed? Should the nurse look within? For example…asking him or herself questions like are you a team player, eager to help others when needed? Give as much as you take?

ES: Boy, this is a tough one. I absolutely understand what you are describing and it’s such a shame we judge in this way. However, that being said, we can only be responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. There is no way in the world we can change another adult’s behavior. And further, we’ve got to understand that the way in which people behave is coming from their perception of the world. As unique individuals, we all have our own memories, experiences, attitudes, and worldview. So the advice I’d give here is try not to let another person’s judgement affect you. Let it go and focus on yourself. There will be people everywhere in this world that judge you for one thing or another. Release those negative vibrations and focus on your own self.
DM: For nurses looking to carve out new career paths, would you recommend reaching out to nurses with similar disabilities for career guidance?

ES: Absolutely! I am all about reaching out and receiving support. And who better to ask for help from? Someone who has walked in your shoes and can empathize with your history- that is the best person to find mentorship from.
DM: You speak about the power of affirmations in your book. Would affirmations be helpful for nurses with disabilities searching for new ways to continue to serve?

ES: I think so. Now, if used in the way I describe them in ‘Your Next Shift’. Because, as you saw in reading it, at first affirmations did not work for me. In fact, I didn’t think they worked at all! But it was what I was focusing on and how I was affirming it that was getting in my way. However, to answer your question, yes I completely see affirmations as a way to empower nurses in wonderful ways.
DM: Many nurses with disabilities live with the fear and doubt you discuss in your book.  They ask, “What if my condition gets worse?” What if I can’t do the new job? Do you have suggestions for dealing with this type of fear and self-doubt?

ES: Awesome question, Donna. I am so glad that you asked. And I can take the questions you asked above as an opportunity to teach the readers right here and now. Look at the questions posed above: ‘What if my condition gets worse? What if I can’t get the new job?’ The very wording of the question already sets you up for failure because what we focus on--grows. When we give something energy, either through thought or words, we give it life. So instead of asking those questions, the way to start to shift things and release some of that fear and doubt, is to ask a new set of questions. Try something like: ‘What would it take for my condition to improve? What vibrational energy must I become to get me that new job?’ See how those questions feel more empowering? I encourage your readers to give it a try and then report back to us in the Your Next Shift Facebook group how their experiences went.
DM: Many nurses with disabilities deal with tremendous personal loss….physically, emotionally….and in addition they may have to leave the bedside and direct patient care. Loss is huge! Do you have any suggestions for dealing with loss?

ES: Loss is huge; you’re right about that. I speak more to loss in my first book, ‘Nursing from Within’ in chapter eight when I give the example of my uncle who took his life in 2010. Since that life experience, and some others along the way, I personally choose to view each experience as an opportunity for growth, healing, and change. So, sure there is loss. But the way we frame it makes a really big difference. Instead of looking at a loss as a ‘negative’ how can we frame it in such a way that we learn from it? The very best way to continue forward in life is to learn from every failure, loss, or challenging experience.

 DM: In your book you talk about the law of polarity. How could this law apply to nurses with disabilities? How can nurses with disabilities see their career in a new light?

ES: Thanks for asking. This law is really another opportunity for us, similar to what was described above. The ‘Law of Polarity’ is simply about the fact that everything has an equal and exact opposite. The example I share in the book is one I learned from a business coach. Think of a magic marker. It has the end that you write with and of course, the opposite end- the top. Without the top, there’d be no bottom. So in terms of how this law might apply to nurses with disabilities and how they might view their career is by looking for the exact opposite of every situation they find themselves in. To bring back your question above about those negative colleagues judging the nurse who may need to work less hours- sure there are those people that will judge. But what about the exact opposite? Those colleagues that fully accept you just as you are! This law provides so much room for inspiration and joy.
DM: Could your recommendation on pg. 55 to list likes and dislikes about your job work for a nurse with a disability? For example…a nurse could list abilities and limitations. Identify areas of nursing practice where abilities could grow and flourish (telephone triage, hospice hotline, case management, poison control hotline)

ES: Sure, this exercise can work for ANYONE. Not just nurses, even. To figure out the best position where a nurse could grow and flourish is to go through this exercise and get really, really clear on what your ideal nursing career would look like. Even if you don’t know where that job might be, or how that might happen, that’s all OK. Just holding close that vision of the best role (and the action steps you take along the way) will bring it to fruition.
DM: You talk about WIFT in your new book. How could a nurse with a disability use WIFT in an interview for a new position?

ES: Great question. So the WIFT model is asking yourself, ‘What’s in it for them?’ In terms of the person there in front of you (the person interviewing you for a new job, in this case), instead of answering their questions with all of the ways that you are great- you also want to weave in to your responses how you can serve them. How will hiring you benefit them? What solutions do you bring to the table? How does your unique self potentially provide their team with benefits? Figure out their pain points and how you can solve them and you will hit a homerun!
DM: How could a nurse with a disability use social media to continue to work?

ES: Hmm… interesting question. Social media is such an opportunity for us all. It is a wonderful way to expand our professional networks. It can help us make lasting connections with people we have never even met. Like you, Donna. It is an honor to know you via social media and one day I’d love to meet you in person and give you a great big hug for all of the support you share with me. Social media can be an outlet for inspiration, connection, knowledge and information, and career growth.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Scala for sharing so much of herself and her work with us! Get a copy of her book to keep under your pillow!

Please feel free to leave a comment or question below.

 About the Author: As a speaker, workshop facilitator, and Reiki Master, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Your Next Shift Workshop, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. You can find out more about Elizabeth through her most recent book, ‘Your Next Shift’.