Saturday, December 19, 2015

The best 2015 blog posts about nurses with disabilities!

As the New Year quickly approaches, it is time to look back at 2015. Included below are the top 10 Exceptional Nurse blog posts about nurses with disabilities. 

Hard of hearing nursing student wins case against college
A federal judge has entered judgment against Terra State Community College in a case alleging that the College discriminated against a former nursing student Shirley Parrott-Copus in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Order requires the College to pay $75,000.00 to the former student, Shirley Parrott-Copus.

"Heartbuds" may replace stethoscope: Is this good news for nurses with hearing loss?  
 A group of cardiologists in Florida developed “HeartBuds”, a device that plugs into a smartphone and operates with an app. HeartBuds record internal sounds, like a beating heart, producing a file that can be stored and shared.

Exceptional Nurse is giving thanks with a free book offer Thanksgiving weekend!
This Thanksgiving day through the weekend (November 26-29), you can get a free ebook copy of "The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities".

Yoga nursing....a gift to self!
The "Yoga Nursing Essentials" program offered by Annette Tersigni, the Yoga Nurse, will teach you the core principles of yoga nursing and prepare you to incorporate yoga nursing interventions into the nursing process in a variety of clinical settings. The program will provide you with the tools needed to start your own business.

Pinned by her attorney
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. 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."

Nurse practitioners with disabilities...Take a bow!
Nurses with disabilities often ask, "Can I become a nurse practitioner?" The short answer is "YES, you can!" This post includes examples.

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

Missing a limb, but not a heart!
April has been declared National Limb Loss Awareness Month in the United States. In the spirit of this campaign, it’s fitting that we celebrate some of our nursing colleagues who, despite the absence of a limb or extremity, are valuable members of our profession.

For National Epilepsy Awareness Month: Let's celebrate Erica Laney RN, a nurse with epilepsy!
For National Epilepsy Awareness month, I "chatted" with Erica Laney, a nurse/mentor with Erica was diagnosed with epilepsy at 11 years old. She has grand-mal seizures and has been practicing as a nurse for four years.

Disability gets sexy thanks to a nurse with Crohn's disease
Jasmine Stacey, 24, a nurse in the UK has Crohn's disease. She underwent surgery to remove part of her intestine when she was 20 years old and needed an ileostomy bag. Jasmine has launched a new line of luxury lingerie that allows women who also have stoma bags to feel sexy again.

Happy New Year!

With thanks to all who shared and commented,


This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog CarnivalMore posts on this topic can be found at
If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Holidays from nurses with disabilities

As the old saying goes..."a picture can tell a thousand words".

Please take a few minutes to view the Exceptional Nurse holiday slide show. It sheds light on nurses with disabilities in the US and abroad. The video was originally posted in December, 2009. 

Since that time, nurses with disabilities have increased in great numbers. Some of the nurses in this video clip have retired, moved to different positions or employment settings and many have received advanced degrees.

Best wishes from the "trailblazers" and all of us for health, peace, love, joy and acceptance!


Please share and Happy New Year to all,



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hard of hearing nursing student wins case against college

                                                       Shirley Parrott-Copus

On 12.8.15, the National Association for the Deaf announced the following:

"Toledo, Ohio A federal judge has entered judgment against Terra State Community College in a case alleging that the College discriminated against a former nursing student Shirley Parrott-Copus in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Order requires the College to pay $75,000.00 to the former student, Shirley Parrott-Copus.
Parrott-Copus, who is hard of hearing, had more than 14 years of experience as a Licensed Practical Nurse when she earned admission to Terra State Community College’s Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse Program on the basis of her strong academic record and work experience. However, soon after her admission, the College required her to prove she could hear or be dismissed from the nursing program. Despite Ms. Parrott-Copus' excellent track record, the school also refused to consider auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication and ultimately dismissed Parrott-Copus from the program because of her disability.
Yesterday’s entry of judgment against the College ends the federal lawsuit and clears the way for Parrott- Copus to pursue her dreams of earning an advanced nursing degree.
Parrott-Copus, who has a deep passion for the nursing profession commented, “What matters is that a nurse is committed, skilled, passionate, and caring. As one of many deaf and hard of hearing nurses, I am thrilled that the Court has entered judgment against Terra State Community College. Whether a nurse can hear or not has nothing to do with whether they can make a difference in the world for their patients.”
"The NAD commends Ms. Parrott-Copus for standing up for her rights as a hard of hearing individual to pursue her dream of being a Registered Nurse,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, NAD Chief Executive Officer. “Today's court judgment puts nursing schools nationwide on notice that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are qualified to be nurses, and refusing admission to them violates federal law."
One of the attorneys for Parrott-Copus, Mary Vargas, said, “There are extraordinary medical and nursing professionals throughout the United States who are deaf and hard of hearing. These doctors and nurses have much to offer and must be judged on the basis of their abilities, not on the basis of outdated stereotypes.”
Parrott-Copus is represented by the National Association of the Deaf, the law firm of Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC, and the law firm of Stein & Vargas, LLP."

Appreciate hearing your thoughts about this case.

With thanks,

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.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Karen Zander reminds us "take a picture..tomorrow could be different"!

"Registered nurse Karen Zander elected to have spinal surgery to be able to walk better and with less pain. She suffered from tethered spinal cord syndrome, a disorder in which tissue attachments, or fluid pressure, impair the chord's ability to transmit sensory and motor information from the brain. The nearly 12-hour operation..... left Zander paralyzed from the chest down, as a result of complications during the procedure."

Karen Zander, was a speaker at Baystate Medical Center as part of the Schwartz Center Rounds. Her talk was entitled "The Journey from Waking Up Paralyzed to Living a Para-Normal Life," a title she said was intended to embody a little humor, with its reference to the paranormal, as well as to being a paraplegia, with loss of movement in her legs and sensation from the mid-chest down. 

In her talk she shared a message important for all of us....

"..take care of yourself, and every day that goes well, take a picture because tomorrow could be really different." 

"Karen is president and owner of The Center for Case Management, a Wellesley-based corporation. She continues to travel around the country to help clients balance costs and outcomes related to medical care. Earlier in her career, she had done psychiatric nursing, at New England Medical Center, and was involved with developing models of clinical case management for its Center for Nursing Case Management, the predecessor of the company she now owns. She holds a master's degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing from Boston University."

Read more about Karen and the Center for Case Management by clicking on the links below.

Love to read your thoughts or comments,


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Do you want to pay fewer taxes, go fishing or get/keep a job?


       On March 6, 1945 I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My mother saw my eye defects before the doctor saw them. What it was called back then I am not sure, but now it is known as coloboma—which comes from the Greek word meaning “curtailed”. The word is used to describe conditions where normal tissue in or around the eye is missing from birth.

Since graduating from Beverly Hospital School of Nursing in 1965, I have worked fulltime at many different jobs, owned a temporary nursing agency and now have my own business providing Hypnosis, Reiki and Emotional Freedom Technique. 

Until 2000, I had good corrected vision in both eyes. Then I was diagnosed with cataracts as a result of 30 years of smoking. Yes, smoking can cause cataracts—back then I was never warned and even stopping smoking 15 years earlier and it didn’t help— the damage was already done.

When I went for an interview at a nursing home I recognized “trouble” when I could not see the application well enough to complete it. I went home and went into a depression, not wanting to see or speak to any of my friends. I soon realized I had a choice— I could stay depressed or get help. I realized when you make the choice to take control and take action the fear drops away. Fear is a result of inaction.

            A call to my state department of low vision (services for the blind and visually impaired) resulted in a visit the next morning and delivery of a free zoom text program for my computer and large labels for my keyboard.  A job coach came to the house the next day.   As luck would have it, just before she arrived a flyer showed up in the mail with information about a company looking for night nurses to do telephone triage. I thought— this sounds perfect!  When you take action the universe provides everything that you need to succeed. You only have to learn how to recognize it.

The coach helped me rework my resume. She prepared everything for me, coached me on how to handle the interview and drove me to the agency. The next day I had the job. After accepting the position, I told the agency that I had low vision and the state department of low vision would be providing all the necessary tools to assist me free of charge. I have been there over 4 years and love the job.

My business is also thriving and I am always looking at new avenues to apply my skills using Hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Many of my sessions can be done by telephone so in the event that I can no longer do nursing triage—I will have a good income.

When I was diagnosed as legally blind, which I waited to do because I was in denial, I found out that in Nashua, NH when you are legally blind you can get half of your property tax taken off and a FREE FISHING LICENSE! So for 2 weeks I was walking around the house saying “You know GOD I would rather pay my full property tax and get my vision back”…. Besides I don’t like to fish.

Nurses with disabilities should consider holistic nursing. A nurse with low vision or hearing loss can be a hypnotist or Reiki Master.  Our intentions as caregivers can be very strong and so enhanced when we take the holistic approach. Visit the web site of The American Holistic Nurses Association for more information

For those of you who are already nurses, you need to know that you have an incredible set of skills that can be applied many different ways. It is like a tapestry where you weave your skills in with your challenge to produce a work of art.

 For those of you who are considering nursing and have been told it cannot be done find a different way, create a new way and never take “no” for an answer unless it is your decision. All no means is next opportunity! Ask for help from people who will encourage you every step of the way. Be only in the presence of those who are a positive influence. Einstein said” Matter is energy”. My dear friend and mentor Pat Crilly says “It’s energy that matters” If you think it you can create it.

 Susan Nordemo, RN, CH, Reiki Master Teacher lives in New Hampshire. Her business is called Monarch Healthcoaching She continues to do telephone triage with Ali Care Medical Management. Susan can be reached at

Read more about Susan in chapter 14 of “The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities” edited by Donna Maheady, EdD, ARNP.

So, do you want to pay fewer taxes, go fishing or get/keep a job?
Feel free to share a comment below.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#GivingTuesday...Today is the day to help Exceptional Nurse

Today is the big day to give!

Why do we ask for donations? The short answer is "we need the money"!

To pay for the domain name.

Maintain the website (hosting, updates, revisions).

To pay non-profit corporation fees to the State of Florida.

To award scholarships to nursing students with disabilities. is a 100% volunteer effort. Every penny donated goes directly into maintaining the website, advocacy efforts and scholarship awards.

No donation is too small.... Please click on this link and give what you can.

With thanks in advance!!