Saturday, October 29, 2016

Are you a nursing student with a learning disability? Sharing a “Learning Bio” with faculty may help!


Tino Plank, Pre-Nursing Student

My name is Tino Plank, and I’m in the process of completing my nursing school pre-requisites. At the suggestion of my academic counselor, Bill Jones, I’ve put together this “learning bio” as a way to introduce myself, my scholastic goals, and my learning disabilities.

I already have a B.S. degree, which I completed in 1980. However, at that time, I struggled in many of my core science classes because I didn’t realize that I had learning disabilities that impacted my capacity to process the material I was studying. Specifically, I have auditory and visual processing deficits and dyslexia/ADD characteristics that slow down the way I integrate information.

I always wanted to continue my science education, but had been intimidated by the testing challenges from my undergraduate days. Fortunately, I’ve been through the learning skills assessment offered by Student Supportive Services, and with their guidance and support, we’ve worked out learning/testing accommodations that have improved my ability to learn and retain information.

I look forward to learning from you this semester and working with you to incorporate my accommodations into the classroom.


Tino Plank

Read more about nursing school with a learning disability in chapter 5 “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Paths to Success for Nurses with Learning Disabilities” in The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Keep moving forward: Are you on suspension or do you have a restricted nursing license?

State boards of nursing use different statutory language related to restrictions, suspensions, stipulations, probation and surrendering a license. It is hard to know exactly how many nurses have suspended or restricted licenses.  If you are one of these nurses, you may be eager to continue to work in nursing or a related field, but don’t know where to turn. Finding a nursing or healthcare related job may take some time and effort, but it can be done!

Let’s think about it this way, if you have a restricted license or your license is suspended, you still have a degree in nursing and valuable skills. Consider areas where you can use your nursing knowledge in broader terms, beyond traditional nursing positions. Begin to think about health related fields. Change your keyword search from “nursing” to “health related”.

Consider gyms and health clubs
Do you practice yoga? If so, why not become a yoga instructor? Build your own business teaching yoga to patients with cancer, arthritis or chronic pain. Also, consider becoming a Reiki master.

Like anatomy? Many massage and yoga instructor training programs require students to study anatomy as part of the training. Who better than a nurse to teach this content?

Explore opportunities with insurance company fitness programs like Healthways “Silver Sneakers” fitness program. You could become an instructor.

How about teaching health to middle or high school age students? A school system may only require you to have a degree in a health-related field in order to teach health.
Consider teaching CPR, first aid, water safety, babysitting or other health related courses for the Red Cross or American Heart Association.
Love maternal/child care? Consider becoming a childbirth or breastfeeding educator.
Does your local school system offer adult education programs? If so, consider developing a health related program and presenting your idea to the appropriate department.

Nurse Recruiter
Working as a nurse recruiter or for a staffing agency may be an option to consider.

Nutrition Consultant
Are you interested in promoting good nutrition and healthy eating? Consider becoming a nutrition consultant. Some nurses have started their own businesses offering classes within their communities.

Faith based programs
Does your church, synagogue or mosque have a parish nurse? If so, consider volunteering with him or her to take blood pressure after services or make home visits.
Love being in the library? How about considering a position in a university medical or nursing school library?

Teach the American Lung Association’s “Open Airways” program to children with asthma in schools.
Consider volunteering with the Red Cross or at a free clinic or homeless shelter.

Write a blog about your experiences. It can be a source of income and could be helpful to other nurses. Online and print publications are also a place to consider writing articles about your area of expertise.

Medical Coding
There are medical coding courses offered at community colleges and online. Learning medical coding can lead to employment with medical offices and consulting firms.

Medical Foster Care
Infants and children with special needs are in dire need of foster homes. Consider opening your home and sharing your nursing skills with children in need.

Developmental Disabilities
Many children and adults with special needs live in group homes and other settings. Groups homes and programs providing services to people with disabilities often need nursing expertise. Find out how you might be able to help. Teach a class on hand washing, food safety, hygiene, nutrition or cooking healthy meals.

Network, network, network
Tell everyone you know that you are interested in working. Stay connected with other nurses as well.

Be prepared for tough questions you may be asked. Rehearse responses. Be honest with employers. Explain your disciplinary action, take responsibility and clearly identify ways you have remediated the situation.

You also need to work closely with your state board of nursing program or counselor and comply with whatever is requested. Try to keep your resume current if a return to traditional nursing practice is your goal. Work closely with your Nursing Board’s peer assistance program or counselor. They may have employment suggestions particular to your area of the country.

Any other suggestions? I would love to read about your experiences.

Move forward!


Yoga Nurse

Nurse is a Reiki Master

Nurse teaches nutrition

Nurse teaches anatomy

Silver Sneakers

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hodgkin's Lymphoma didn't stop this nurse!

                                                                                                        Carissa Lucas
Just a few weeks into the nursing program at Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Carissa Lucas found a lump on the left side of her neck.

She had a test and class that day and thought it could wait, but one of her professors advised her to get it checked out. Carissa's doctor sent her to the emergency room and to have a CT scan. Three hours later, she was informed that the tests were consistent with lymphoma. Two weeks later, she learned that the diagnosis was stage two Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Carissa started chemotherapy while attending classes.

"I had chemotherapy every other week, and was able to keep attending classes and get the treatment that I needed.

The accelerated nursing program took Carissa a year longer than planned due to a medical leave of absence. The good news is that in spite of extensive treatment and a stem cell transplant, she was scheduled to graduate in May of 2016 and begin a nursing position for Baylor, Scott & White.

"A lot of people have said that I inspire them, and I appreciate the sentiment, but I never set out to do that. I just want to be the best nurse that I can be. I couldn't let a diagnosis keep me from achieving my goals"

Read more about Carissa:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Listen up breast cancer...don't mess with two nurses!

Madeline Harris, RN and Kristen Noles, RN

October is breast cancer awareness month. Exceptional Nurse is honored to share this inspirational story. 

While Kristen Noles was waiting for her biopsy results, her mother, Madeline Harris, who is an oncology nurse told her, "not to worry". Days later, Kristen learned she had invasive ductal and lobular breast cancer. 

Soon she embarked on aggressive chemotherapy and radiation followed by a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Kristen kept working throughout her treatment. She had chemo and would be back to work on Monday. Kristen even completed graduate studies while in treatment.

 Over time, Madeline and Kristen asked, "How can we use this to further our understanding of what it's like to be the family member of a patient?"

So this is what they accomplished in the five years since Kristen's diagnosis!

Kristen became a co-founder of the Courage Network, a grassroots program made up of University of Alabama at Birmingham staff who help to support other employees facing breast cancer.

Kristen's mom, Madeline Harris, while working as the director of Birmingham's Women's Breast Health Fund, has awarded more than 1.3 million dollars to nonprofits since 2009 to provide services to breast cancer survivors and their families. 

Kristen's diagnosis made this mother and daughter pair of nurses even more determined to make cancer patients' lives as fulfilled as possible.

Click on the link below to read more about this story in an article published in Parade magazine. 

Best wishes to Kristen and her Mom. Bravo to both of you. 

With thanks for all you do!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Love story about a nurse with a missing finger goes viral!

                                                                                                Hands of Libby and Matt Sanders

Libby Sanders is a nurse in Jasper, Indiana. Earlier this year, she lost her left pinky finger after a freak accident with a screen door. Since the accident she was a little self-conscious about the missing finger.

On Facebook, Libby posted:

This is who I married….
I was painting my nails and made a comment that I forget I don’t have to paint my pinky nail on my left hand. I simply forget that I lost my pinky, but it is always kind of a bummer when I am reminded. Matt said “I will be your surrogate pinky. You can paint my pinky to match your nails for the rest of our lives” 
And so we did….
I cannot image a sweeter, kinder man. No words adequately describe our love.

Just type "Libby Sanders" into your search engine. Libby, her husband, five children and their ice cream shop are covered everywhere! 

Please share or leave a comment.

I need a tissue.