Friday, July 31, 2015

Colleen Collins, a nurse with vision loss, demonstrates true vision!

Colleen Collins, RN worked in pediatric intensive care  for 14 years. Then she started having trouble with her vision. “I began knocking things over, and I also had episodes of night blindness.” Eventually Colleen was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Think her career in nursing was over? Think again!

Colleen went on her degree to qualify to work as a Nurse Administrator. Her DOR counselor referred her to the LightHouse to learn travel skills and use of a white cane. The experience led her to enroll in the LightHouse’s Employment Immersion program.

Colleen’s perseverance paid off and she was hired as an Intake and Scheduling Manager for the home health agency American Care Quest in San Francisco. “I talk to the departments at the various hospitals, gather information on new patients and decide which medical personnel (i.e., Skilled Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists) to send out. I’m working full time, ten to twelve hours a day. It’s great!”

Click on the link below to read more about Colleen.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Helping nursing students with disabilities in "emergency" situations

          As an advocate for nurses and nursing students with disabilities, I often hear from nursing students who see their situation as an “emergency”! Not a life and death emergency as we typically think of it, but for many their situation is perceived to be an emergency.

So, what type of situations?

A nursing student with hearing loss is counseled by his or her clinical instructor regarding performance of a nursing skill.

A nursing student with a learning disability receives a notice of being in danger of failing a course due to weak APA and writing skills.

A nursing student with dyscalculia is taking the math/medication calculation test for the second time. Students are only allowed two attempts.  

In the nursing lab, a nursing student missing her left hand is unable to catheterize using appropriate technique.

A nursing student with short stature is unsuccessful performing CPR in a classroom setting.
                                                  What do I say?

In most situations, my best advice is to breathe and breathe again!

Eat a healthy snack or meal.


Get some exercise and a good night’s sleep.


                                                 Then take action!

Remember the question “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

The answer is "Practice"!

Get back to the nursing lab as soon as possible and practice, practice and practice again.

Contact the college or university learning or writing center. Sign up for a writing or math tutor.

Practice using breathing and relaxation techniques.

Make an appointment to meet privately with your nursing instructor.

Visit the Disabilities Services Office as soon as possible.

Join a study group and buy review books.

Get connected with other nurses, nursing students and mentors with similar challenges through the non-profit organization

Join the Exceptional Nurse group on Facebook.

Read all you can about other nurses and students with similar issues. Identify what worked for them.

Remember that most nursing students struggle with something. You are not alone. Learning new skills can take time and practice!  


Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kristal Nemeroff, RN gives credit to the ADA for helping her become a nurse

As we continue to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, let's celebrate the accomplishments of Kristal Nemeroff, RN!

Alan Guttmacher, Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development wrote "Celebrating 26 years of the ADA" for the Huffington Post Blog.

Alan wrote the following about Kristal Nemeroff:

Some days, Kristal Nemeroff needs her wheelchair, but usually her walker suffices. She is slower than the students who buzz around her, but her motivation is in overdrive. At 27, Kristal is the nurse at Hamilton Elementary School in rural Pennsylvania, a few miles from where she grew up.

Securing the job and completing her nursing certificate required fortitude and determination in a profession that she (and many others) once thought was off-limits to people with disabilities. 

"Rules and bones are meant to be broken," she wrote in Scrubs magazine chronicling her challenging journey. The quote has deeper meaning for Kristal, who has endured a lifelong battle with osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, a genetic disorder that affects the protein collagen found in bones, teeth, skin, tendons, and parts of the eye. She has endured 10 major surgeries, 25 broken bones, and months of immobility. 

For most of her life, Kristal has participated in research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) aimed at improving the management of her condition.

She credits the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - which marks its 25th anniversary this month - for paving the way to her career. "It's so cool to be a role model," she says. "The ADA protected my rights and now I'm making sure my students know that, whether they have a disability or a disease, they should follow their dreams." 

Bravo Kristal!

Keep our kids healthy and dreaming big dreams!

Best wishes,

Monday, July 20, 2015

Who let the dogs out in nursing?

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE dogs (especially black labs)! My daughter, Lauren, is 28 and diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She has a service dog from Canine Companions for Independence. Mr. Toy (Toyon is his real name) has helped Lauren in many ways and quickly became the love and joy of our family.

Dogs have long been considered man's best friend. But, can a nurse bring a dog to work? The answer is sometimes "yes" and sometimes "no". This article discusses the differences between service, therapy and support dogs and provides examples of dogs at work in nursing practice settings.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pinned by her attorney

Congratulations to Courtney Powell and her service dog!

Newburgh, NY - on May 15th, Courtney Powell walked across the stage at Mount Saint Mary College to receive her Nursing Degree.  One of the people she asked to pin her was her attorney, Anthony LoBiondo, of LoBiondo Law Offices in Newburgh.

"I dedicate this pin to my fierce attorney for all of his support and guidance while successfully navigating through the nursing program," said Powell.  "In the face of adversity, Team LoBiondo taught me the real meaning of 'doce me veritatem' and I owe my RSN in part to them."  Doce Me Veritatem is Latin for "Teach me the truth," the motto of Mount Saint Mary College.

The pinning ceremony for nurses dates back to the 1860's when Florence Nightingale was honored with the Red Cross of St. George for her selfless efforts to injured men during the Crimean War. Because she believed in acknowledging a job well done, she presented a medal of excellence to her hardest working nursing graduates. "Being asked to pin a nursing graduate is a great honor," said LoBiondo, "and I was extremely honored to pin Courtney at her nursing graduation ceremony."

LoBiondo successfully represented Powell in a lawsuit against Mt. St. Mary College after the college wrongfully expelled her for knitting and wearing a sweatshirt during a clinical.  Powell has a nervous system disorder called Dysautonomia and is assisted by "Emma the Service Dog Extraordinairre."  After the wrongful expulsion, LoBiondo brought an Article 78 Petition in New York State Supreme Court, which came before the Honorable Elaine Slobod.

"The Court saw that Courtney had been wrongfully expelled and wrote in the decision that the expulsion was 'arbitrary and capricious' and held that 'there was not one shred of evidence,' and then ordered the Mount to reverse the expulsion and return Courtney to her classes," said LoBiondo.

"I can't thank Team LoBiondo enough," said Powell.  "I couldn't have done it without them. I am so grateful to Mr. Lo for not only believing in me when Mount Saint Mary didn't, but for believing that I could succeed when so many others said I couldn't.  Mr. Lo helped me achieve my dream and that's something I'll never be able to thank him enough for!"

"I am just thankful that Courtney was able to finish out her nursing classes, get her nursing degree and graduate on time.  She is going to make a stellar nurse," said Anthony LoBiondo.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Americans with Disabilities Act is 25! Let's celebrate nurses!

This month Exceptional Nurse joins the nation in celebrating
the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990.

Countless people including nursing students and nurses with disabilities have benefited from passage of the ADA.

Today, we celebrate Danielle, a nurse born missing a limb.  Danielle found ways to succeed in nursing school, graduate and land a job as a pediatric nurse.

A video about Danielle (found below) was produced by the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center-New England ADA Center. 

Can you help us celebrate by leaving a comment and sharing this post?

With thanks in advance!!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Second chances

Imagine seeing this student's application to a nursing program.

- is a former drug addict (crack, heroin).
- was homeless for a period of time.
- spent time in jail for a variety of misdemeanor charges.
- has been in drug treatment centers seven times.
-has good grades in college courses.
-is working as a CNA.


 Believe in second chances?

Well....take a look at her now!

Sharing and commenting below is a good thing!
I love to read your comments.

Here's to second chances!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Q & A about health care workers with impairments


Elisabeth Simpson, Consultant/ Motor 

Team of The Department of Labor's 

Job Accommodation Network and I collaborated 

on a number of questions related to healthcare 

workers with impairments and reasonable 


Three of the questions we discussed are presented in the "Ask JAN

Blog" posted on July 1, 2015.

1) For medical professionals with either a hand or arm amputation

OR restrictions that limit the use of one hand, what are some

alternative methods for giving injections? What about placing


2) For medical professionals who need to wear a brace or post-burn

glove, how can concerns around sterility be addressed?

3) Are there alternatives to taking a leave of absence during flu

season for medical professionals who are not able to receive the flu


     To read more about our discussion, potential solutions

and recommended resources.... please click on the link below.


Your comments make my day!

With thanks,



Friday, July 3, 2015

Becky Stowers, RN...a stroke survivor reminds us to think "FAST"

Becky Stowers has been a nurse for more than two decades and

never thought she would become a patient herself.

"The neurologist that saw me in the hospital told me I would never

go back to work again, and I told him that he didn't know who I

was," Stowers said.

It took four months of therapy twice a day for her to recover.

Becky had to teach her brain how to walk and speak. Despite

chronic pain and numbness, Stowers is thankful to be back with her


"I just feel blessed. I'm upright and walking, I thank God every day

for that, and I'm back to work."

You can read and hear more about Becky by clicking the link

below. Please share widely. We all need to remember to think


Take care,