Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sample reasonable accommodation request letter for nurses with disabilities

Sample Accommodation Request Letter

Nurses with disabilities often ask, "how do I ask for reasonable accommodation"?

The Department of Labor's Job Accommodation Network (JAN) suggests the following:

"According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing the ADA, an accommodation request does not have to be in writing. However, the EEOC suggests that individuals with disabilities might find it useful to document accommodation requests in the event there is a dispute about whether or when they requested accommodation. One way to document an accommodation request is to make a written request."

The following is an example of what can be included in an accommodation request letter. It is not intended to be legal advice:

Date of Letter
Your name
Your address
Employer’s name
Employer’s address

Dear (e.g., Supervisor, Manager, Human Resources, Personnel):

Content to consider in body of letter:
Identify yourself as a person with a disability.
State that you are requesting accommodations under the ADA (or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 if you are a federal employee).
Identify your specific problematic job tasks.
Identify your accommodation ideas.
Request your employer’s accommodation ideas.
Refer to attached medical documentation if appropriate.*

Ask that your employer to respond to your request in a reasonable amount of time.

Your signature

Your printed name
Cc: To appropriate individuals

 *You may want to attach medical information to your letter to help establish that you are a person with a disability and to document the need for accommodation.

Source: Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Job Accommodation Network

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Are you a resilient nurse? Do you know a resilient nurse with Lupus or another disability?

Pamela Delis, RN, BS, MSN 
Pam Delis wrote a chapter entitled "Sick and tired  of Being Sick and Tired: Nursing with Lupus" in the book, "The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities".

Being a nurse with lupus can be a blessing. Why? Because you know what it is like to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. You know what it is like to have chronic joint pain, overwhelming fatigue, occasional cognitive lapses, and regularly scheduled laboratory tests. You have probably had people question your pain or illness because you don’t look sick. You have experienced both the nurse and the patient role in the nurse-patient relationship. In other words, because of lupus you possess a better appreciation for what it is like to travel through the lonely, frightening, overwhelming roads of our healthcare system. It is said that what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. I agree.

Pam also wrote an insightful introduction to the book which speaks to the power of being resilient.

            The term “resiliency” inspires thoughts of positive attitude, perseverance, the ability to draw on support in overcoming difficulties, and the capacity to bounce back after a negative occurrence.  Resilience allows a person to cope through every day challenges, and through life altering events.  It suggests an inner strength of being, a desire to keep moving forward despite the odds. 

Nurses and other health professional display resiliency every day as they negotiate the demands and stressors of the healthcare environment.  In this book, you will read the stories presented by nurses and nursing students who have faced or are facing healthcare challenges, and who, in spite of or because of these challenges, have proven they have the perseverance and inner strength to overcome the odds.  One nurse shares her journey back to work following a leg amputation. Another nurse recounts his challenges with a learning disability while in nursing school. The issues that confront nurses who work through natural disasters are shared through the voice of a nurse who worked through Hurricane Hugo. Additional stories shed light on the remarkable journeys of nurses with hearing and vision loss, chronic pain, diabetes and lupus. The challenges of working with vocational rehabilitation and realities of disclosure and asking employers for accommodations are highlighted as well.

What resonates through the stories is not only the resiliency and inner drive to survive the challenges presented, but to thrive.  Through reading and reflecting on the stories, you will learn how facing challenges in oneself allows a person to become a more empathetic nurse and a stronger person.

Pamela Delis, RN, BSN, MSN is currently undertaking a PhD program in nursing with a focus on health promotion at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell.  She is a full-time faculty member for the school of nursing at Salem State University, and works part-time as an RN with children with developmental disabilities. 

Read more about resilience and about being a nurse with Lupus in “The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities”.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Meet Melissa Brown, disabled nurse, advocate and warrior!

In 1978, I graduated with an ADN in nursing. Prior to switching to nursing, I pursued a degree in teaching for about three years but never graduated. I am a two-time survivor of breast cancer as well as a nurse with a disability.

For 37 years, I practiced as an RN is multiple clinical settings including emergency nursing, flight nursing, telephone triage, industrial nursing, all critical care units except neonatal and, from 2002 until 2013, as an RN in psychiatric and substance abuse settings. On to the cool warrior nurse stuff..... 

Back in the early days of the 'net, in 1996, well before the advent of Facebook and WYSIWIG ("what you see if what you get" website development), I taught myself HTML. My first website was entitled "The Patient Advocate." I started that site because I was royally pissed at the way Rick Scott, then head of Columbia/HCA, was allowing nurses and patients to be treated at Columbia/HCA hospitals. 

I still remember, vividly, the fear and angst I felt when I first published that website! Scary stuff! And I will NEVER forget the validation I felt on behalf of nurses and patients when Columbia and Rick Scott went down the tubes in 1996. I recall jumping up, pumping my fist in the air, and yelling, "YES! YES! YES!"

Moving along to 1997.... I was elected national president (and website developer) of a group of nurses who connected online through the Nursenet email list. On May 1, 1998, that group of dedicated, passionate nurses held rallies for safe patient care in nine states. The name of our group was The Florence Project. I incorporated our national group in Florida as a 501c3 non-profit.

One of the reasons I have held off posting my intro is the deep, personal pain associated with that time in my life. On the day of our rallies, May 1, 1998, we lost four members of our group who were headed to our rally in Albany, New York. One of our members who died, Doug Fletcher, was the publisher of the "Journal for Nursing Jocularity." All four who died were cast members of the nurse musical "Who's Got the Keys?" They were on their way from rehearsal to the rally in Albany when the van in which they were traveling was hit broadside by an 18-wheeler.

In the months before our rallies, Doug Fletcher, whom I never met in person, had become a personal friend, mentor and cheerleader. He was one of the funniest and most up-beat people I have ever known. He had a strange tendency to call me out of the blue whenever I was down. One time, he caught me when I was on the toilet. He heard it flush as we were talking. From that time on, he prefaced every conversation we had with, "Are you still on the toilet?" 

Doug's passing hit me hard. A few weeks after our rallies in 1998, I was the nurse speaker on behalf of The Florence Project at the national convention of the Physicians for a National Health Program in Boston, Massachusetts. I recall little of what I said other than asking for a moment of silence for Doug and our other three members who were killed in that tragic accident.

In early 1999, I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder called stiff person syndrome. In early 2001, after being told I would never be able to work as a nurse again, and following multiple painful issues associated with the Florence Project (which I won't go into here), I experienced an episode of severe major depressive disorder. I nearly died. However, with the help of therapy, I fought like hell to recover and be able to work as a nurse again.

Due to my physical limitations combined with my personal experience with depression, I decided to enter the field of psychiatric nursing. I worked in a state mental hospital in Florida and, later, in an acute care psychiatric unit/receiving center. Both were managed by one huge, local hospital system.

This is where my story gets sticky. After working for seven years in that acute psych unit, I was terminated in 2013. I had never been terminated or seriously disciplined before in my entire nursing career. Three months after my termination, I opted, with the support of my husband, to do what most nurses cannot do: I sued that employer. In April, 2015, I was forced to drop my lawsuit for financial reasons. The rest of my story, including blog entries I wrote for Alene Nitzky, RN PhD's Fighting Dinosaurs website, is available at

After I was terminated, I experienced all the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, although I didn't recognize it at the time. It was actually my husband, a PTSD survivor himself, who first brought it to my attention. During my travels out in cyberspace, I met other nurses and health care workers who had either been diagnosed with PTSD or suspected they have it. The common denominator was this: we all worked in health care, and we all attributed our possible PTSD to our work! Last year, Scott Nations and I started FB group called "PTSD in Healthcare Workers: The Epidemic. That group is available here:

In September 2015, I watched as Janie's group "Show Me Your Stethoscope" blew up Facebook! I watched the numbers closely, and posted the growing numbers everywhere I could think of on the 'net. I have never been so proud of nurses and nursing! To now be one of Florida's ambassadors for the SMYS for Change group is an honor as well as a responsibility I take seriously. To me, it is a major commitment as well as a challenge. I am willing to do whatever it takes to further our cause.

In October, 2015, I was asked to become an admin (and consultant) for the group "Rally for National Nurse-to-Patient Ratios." I am so pleased that we have over 2,000 health care professionals in our group who are considering attending our rally in DC on May 12, 2016! Here is the group:  

So now you have it. If you've read this far, you know me pretty well.

Bravo Melissa...Lead on!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Isn't it time for nurses with disabilities to model uniforms, scrubs and lab coats?

Can you imagine an advertisement including nurses with disabilities modeling uniforms, scrubs and lab coats?

Models of Diversity promotes hiring people of all races, ages, sizes and disabilities in the fashion industry.

The organization started in the United Kingdom and came across the pond to partner with Global Disability Inclusion. The goal is to get more individuals with disabilities featured in fashion segments. 

Isn't it time?

Please share your thoughts and learn more about opportunities by clicking on the link below.

Hope to see you in an ad! 


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Could "Be My Eyes" help nurses with disabilities?

"Be my eyes" is a new app that connects blind users and sighted volunteers through video chat.

The app was developed in Copenhagen and can be downloaded for free from the Apple App store.

Volunteers from all over the world help users who need someone to take a quick look at something.

It works like this... "A blind person requests assistance in the Be My Eyes app. The challenge that he/she needs help with can be anything from knowing the expiry date on the milk to navigating new surroundings."

"The volunteer helper receives a notification for help and a live video connection is established. From the live video the volunteer can help the blind person by answering the question they need answered."

The possibilities are endless! 

Could this app help a nurse with vision loss continue to practice? 

Benefit patients?

Would you consider being a volunteer?

The American Foundation for the Blind gives the app high marks in a review included below.

Love to read your thoughts about this new app.

With thanks,

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Nurse Born Products...truly a kitchen table business!

Nurse Born Products got started after a neck injury took Sarah Mott, RN away from bedside nursing.

Sarah was working as a staff nurse on a busy surgical unit and constantly suffered from neck pain and headaches.

The pain was aggravated by her stethoscope draped around her neck. She was unable to find a stethoscope holder that helped. Sarah dealt with the situation by leaving her stethoscope on desks or stuffing it in her pockets. She always putting it down and losing it. 

Sadly, the pain took Sarah away from her passion, bedside nursing. While home thinking about what she was going to do next, Sarah decided to design a stethoscope holder. One thing led to another and the rest is history. The "Lotus" stethoscope holder was born! It's comfortable and attaches anywhere on your scrubs, pocket, waistband or tote bag. 

While developing the product, Sarah was inspired by many nurses she had worked with - they were always improvising and creating new ways to do things. These nurses inspired Nurse Born Products. 

The Mission of Nurse Born Products is to:

Provide a place where nurses and other healthcare providers can find innovative products that they can use at work and home.

Inspire nurses to Create, Design and Invent and to show the world what WE are made of!

Additional "nurse made" products include badge reels, scrub hats, jewelry and cherry pit heat/cold pads.

Could you benefit from a Lotus stethoscope holder?
Do you have a product you would like to sell?
Can you help Sarah with her KickStarter campaign?
Need a gift for yourself or a colleague?
Please visit Nurse Born Products and support the creativity of nurses! Let us know what you think of the products!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How about a new movie "Disabled Nurse goes to Washington"?

Remember “Mr. Smith goes to                                                                     
Washington”? The movie was controversial—

ahead of its time. And, clearly demonstrated the 
impact one person can have on American politics.

So I ask…..

Why aren’t more nurses involved in politics? And,

particularly why aren’t more nurses with 

disabilities involved in politics?

Here is an excellent opportunity to begin the


Every summer, the American Association 

of People with Disabilities (AAPD) places students 

and recent graduates with disabilities in paid 10-

week summer internships in Congressional 

offices, federal agencies, nonprofit and for-profit 


AAPD provides accessible housing, a stipend, and 

travel to and from Washington, DC for all summer 


You could be the voice of nurses with disabilities 

in Washington! Who better to speak to the needs 

of people with disabilities?

Think of all you could learn and share with 

leaders in Washington.

Think of all the networking you could do. 

Sounds like a winning opportunity!

And who knows? You could make a new

”Nurse with a disability goes to Washington!”

Learn more about the 2017 Summer Internship program at:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Educating nursing students with disabilities: Replacing essential functions with technical standards

My colleagues and I recently published an article "Educating nursing students with disabilities: Replacing essential functions with technical standards for program entry criteria" in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. The abstract of the article in included below. 

Across the globe, students with disabilities have been increasing in prevalence in higher education settings. In the twenty-first century the struggle to include individuals with disabilities into nursing schools and workplaces continues in different parts of the world. Historically, entry criteria in nursing schools have been based on essential functions, which were primarily designed to be used in the workforce, rather than technical standards for education.

In other health professions, such as medicine, this is not necessarily the case. For example, the American Association of Medical Colleges has worked over the past two decades to develop appreciation among medical schools for the need to admit and accommodate students with disabilities. We argue that nursing has not followed suit. This paper presents an integrative literature review, consisting of material from the United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Australia, investigating compelling stories, legal mandates, websites, and extant literature looking at essential functions or technical standards as entry criteria for nursing schools. The results show that, when essential functions for employment are used in nursing education, they may be a barrier to entry into that program. The paper concludes with recommendations for well-defined technical standards for nursing schools to be used primarily as entry criteria.

Matt, S., Maheady, D., Fleming, S. (2015). Educating nursing students with disabilities: Replacing essential functions with technical standards for program entry criteria. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 28(4), 461-468.

I would appreciate reading your thoughts about this article. If you would like a pdf copy please contact me.

With thanks!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Two Exceptional Nurses with disabilities!

As a nurse for 44 years, Lynn Bartos often has wondered if she had a lasting effect in the lives of her countless patients.

"When you get to be my age, you look back and think: Did all that stuff I do matter? Did it make a difference? Are people OK?" she said.

Her answer arrived when she became the patient.

This past summer, something felt familiar about the nurse administering her IV treatment at the infusion clinic at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. Lynn sits in a recliner for three hours every five weeks to receive a drug that relieves her rheumatoid arthritis.

The nurse, Nicole Krahn, sensed it, too. She asked her patient what she does for a living and learned that Lynn also is a nurse at Froedtert in neurology, but she used to work in the gastroenterology clinic at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Oh, Nicole replied. As a child she was treated there for years, beginning as a newborn.

Lynn looked at the nurse's name tag: Nicole.

"Nini?" Lynn said. "And she was like, 'Oh, my God, yes.'"

Read more about both of these nurses:

I love to read stories like this!

Please share your thoughts,


Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's affirmations for nurses and nursing students with disabilities

    Please accept the following affirmations from Connie Adleman, RN, stroke survivor and author of a chapter in "The Exceptional  Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities".
I use my limitations as an opportunity to grow.
I give thanks that any limitation that I experience is a gift teaching me about myself.
I always focus on and count my possibilities for success.
I have unlimited potential.
I love myself exactly as I am.

Connie Stallone Adleman, RN

Nurse, educator, stroke survivor, author, mentor and coach

Please feel free to add a comment or additional affirmation for the New Year.

Happy New Year!