Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Mental Health Condition?

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Mental Health Condition?

Yes, the ADA Amendments specify that mitigating measures such as medications cannot be considered in determining whether a person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (the criterion for protection under the ADA). This means that your medications that help you function well do not disqualify you. You may also be protected under the Amendments which say that episodic conditions are covered if your condition would substantially limit a major life activity when it is in its active state.

In addition, here are some specific suggestions from our Board members about how you might adapt to the clinical setting:

If you decide you want to disclose your disability and request accommodations, use this opportunity to highlight the unique perspectives and experiences you bring to your work as a result of your condition. You know what it is like to live with a chronic “invisible” condition. You know what it’s like to interact with the medical community as person who has had to be “diagnosed”, and you know what it is like to have a chronic condition that you have to “manage”. All of this can positively affect how you work with patients as they negotiate their interactions with the healthcare community.


Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

Can I Be a Nurse if My Vision is Impaired?

Can I Be a Nurse if My Vision is Impaired?

Absolutely, you can be a nurse if you have a visual disability. You may have been told that you could not be a nurse, but NOND has Board members with visual impairments who are successful nurses. After you look at the resources on our website, one of these nurses would be happy to talk with you about their adaptations, if needed, but remember that you must learn to be your own advocate.

The ADA Amendments specify that mitigating measures or devices such as special eye wear cannot be considered in determining whether a person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (the criterion for protection under the ADA). This means that your bioptics (described below) or other special adaptations that help you function well do not disqualify you for protection under the ADA.
In addition, here are some specific suggestions from our Board members about how you might adapt to the clinical setting:


Also see:
How Can I Master Clinical Skills if I Have Impaired Vision?


Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Hearing Loss?

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Hearing Loss?

Absolutely! The ADA Amendments specify that mitigating measures or devices such as hearing aids cannot be considered in determining whether a person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (the criterion for protection under the ADA). This means that your hearing aids that help you function well do not disqualify you for protection under the ADA. The state vocational service or department of rehabilitation may be able to help with hearing aids. Each state varies as to what they will cover. We have nurses on our Board who have hearing loss who can consult with you, after you have explored the resources provided above.


Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

Can Employers Require Pre-Employment Physicals?

Can Employers Require Pre-Employment Physicals?

What do I do if I feel I have been discriminated against as a result of the physical?

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.

For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information. Also check out your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

For connections with people with disabilities in your community, contact your local Center for Independent Living.

For information about how to get a job, contact State Vocational Rehabilitation Program or the Job Accommodation Network.

Under the ADA, employers can require pre-employment physicals. The extent of the physicals and the reason for them must be consistent with business practice and job-related. Physicals should be looking at function, not diagnosis. i.e, does this candidate have the ability to perform the essential functions of the job for which they are applying? Such physicals must be the same for every applicant for the same position, or employers will have a difficult time showing they were not treating you differently, presumably because of a “perceived” disability.
 
Employers should not ask, “Do you have a condition that needs accommodation?” but they can ask, “Can you perform the essential functions of this job with or without a reasonable accommodation?” If you feel you have been treated unfairly, you can file an internal grievance with the agency’s Affirmative Action department, stating that you feel you received disparate treatment as a result of your “perceived” disability. That might result in additional training for the agency around ADA issues.
 
Another place to make formal complaints is the Bureau of Labor and Industry in your state. By filing a complaint with BOL, you are addressing both state and federal employment issues. You also can file a complaint with the EEOC (federal). If you file with EEOC or BOLI it is important to be clear about your goal. It may be to get a job, or to get punitive damages related to stress, or to require the agency to get additional training on ADA issues.



Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have Concerns with Manual Dexterity or Have only One Hand?

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have Concerns with Manual Dexterity or Have One Hand?

Absolutely! NOND has contact with nurses who have practiced as a nurse with one hand for over 25 years. Use the resources below and work with your college’s or university’s Disability Services Officer to request accommodations. Be creative when designing accommodations – as long as certain principles are followed, the ways in which tasks are done may become negotiable. With respect to technical tasks, there may be more than one way to do them. If you need specific suggestions, contact NOND to speak with one of our experts. See Danielle’s story, a successful nurse in practice.

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.

For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information. Also check out your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

For connections with people with disabilities in your community, contact your local Center for Independent Living.

Some nursing programs may be more receptive to you than others. If you have the opportunity, talk to current students or to nursing faculty about a selected program’s record of accommodating students with disabilities. Also, meet with the Disability Services Officer to discuss entrance requirements and your expected access to accommodations.


Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

How Can I Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) if I Have Limited Mobility?

How Can I Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) if I Have Limited Mobility?

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.

For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information.

Consider the following activities:

  • If you are a nursing student, be sure to work with your Disability Services Office where you already have documented your disability. They can advocate for you with nursing faculty.
  • Find out if the nursing program is willing to accept your theoretical knowledge of the skill and a learning laboratory demonstration of your competence, in lieu of actually carrying out the skill in the clinical setting? If not, you can do CPR standing beside a bed or stretcher if your knees are the issue. If you use a wheelchair, you have several options. You can get out of your chair onto the floor with the patient and do CPR there or you can lower the bed or stretcher to reach the patient.
  • You also can use an Ambu-Bag, which helps with the assist breaths via a mask with an attached bag to inflate the patient’s lungs. Current guidelines emphasize chest compressions, which can be done on the floor.
  • See how one nursing student adapted to situations like this in the film entitled Open the Door, Get ‘Em a Locker. Many nurses never perform CPR; most practicing nurses who find CPR difficult simply find a job that does not require this skill.




Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have Intermittent Conditions?

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have Intermittent Conditions?

Absolutely, you can be a nurse if you have a chronic, intermittent health condition.

If you have an episodic (intermittent) condition such as epilepsy, migraines, or fibromyalgia, you would be considered to have a disability if any of your major life activities are impaired when the condition is in its active state. When seeking ADA protection, remember that there must be a link between the disability or limitations and the task for which you need help.

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.

To request accommodations under the ADA, you will need to disclose your condition and provide documentation from your health care provider. Also, contact your local
contact your local Center for Independent Living for ideas about accommodations from people who have had similar issues.

If your chronic condition affects a major life activity such as seeing, hearing, walking, sleeping, etc., or a major bodily function such as those of the immune system, normal cell growth, or endocrine system, etc., you are covered under the ADA. Latex allergies also come under this portion of the ADA and its amendments.

 


Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Chronic Condition that Affects My Life Activities?

Can I Be a Nurse if I Have a Chronic Condition that Affects My Life Activities?

  1. Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.
  2. For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information. Also check out your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  3. For connections with people with disabilities in your community, contact your local Center for Independent Living.
  4. Information about how to get a job, contact State Vocational Rehabilitation Program or the Job Accommodation Network.


If your chronic condition affects a major life activity such as seeing, hearing, walking, sleeping, etc., or a major bodily function such as those of the immune system, normal cell growth, or endocrine system, etc., you are covered under the ADA. Latex allergies also come under this portion of the ADA and its amendments.


Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

How Can I Master Clinical Skills if I Have Impaired Vision?

How Can I Master Clinical Skills if I Have Impaired Vision?

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. You may already know about national organizations providing assistance for people with impaired vision nfb.org/state-and-local-organizations and “Shedding Light on Nurses with Vision Loss.”

The ADA Amendments specify that mitigating measures or devices such as special eye wear cannot be considered in determining whether a person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (the criterion for protection under the ADA). This means that your bioptics (described below) or other special adaptations that help you function well do not disqualify you for protection under the ADA. In addition, here are some specific suggestions from our Board members about how you might adapt to the clinical setting:

  • Use a clip-on magnifier for hands-free magnification or hand magnifiers.
  • Use lenses such as those used by surgeons or a bioptic, which work like binoculars. You can zoom in or out until you can see the object. A specialist in low vision optometry can prescribe these special binocular glasses.
  • Review different low vision websites for instruments to test out in the learning laboratory with your instructor. You may need different items for different tasks; make sure you can return the ones that do not work for you.
  • Use a headband light. Extra light is extremely important in accomplishing clinical tasks; fluorescent lights are problematic for people with low vision.
  • Use a talking blood pressure device and talking thermometer.
  • For charting on paper: A hand-held magnification device from Telesensory utilizes a computer screen where the size of the object/print can be enlarged.
  • For computer charting: Screen magnifiers (programs added to agency mainframes or a pen drive that can be taken from computer to computer) work wonders for anyone with low vision. Zoomtext is one of the available assistive technology software programs but there are many companies that sell these products.
  • For catheterizing: A headband light can help you view the area for catheter insertion a little better. Get closer than other nurses to the patient, while making sure to maintain the sterile field. Extra light and closer proximity to the patient are the keys to this procedure. 
  • For tracheotomy care: Extra light and magnification glasses or clip-ons will help. With gloved hands, place one index finger alongside the tracheotomy so that you can feel the opening. Use that finger as a guide to insert the suction tube into the trach. Because you will get closer than other nurses (while still maintaining your sterile field), you may want to wear a mask. This may take a little practice but it works.
  • For IV medication administration: Again, the key is getting close and having adequate light. You can use magnifier glasses to make the very small print larger and a headband light to view the small connections for the tubing. 


Other resources for you include the following:




Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

What Jobs in Nursing Can I do if I Have Physical Limitations?

What Jobs in Nursing Can I do if I Have Physical Limitations?

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work.

For information about how to get a job or get through school, contact your State Vocational Rehabilitation Program. and Job Accommodation Network. There are more and more nursing jobs for people with physical limitations. Here are some suggestions:

  • Legal consultation (training is available on-line)
  • Lactation consultant
  • Occupational health
  • Psychiatric or mental health nursing
  • Case management
  • Triage at a home care agency
  • Quality assurance reviews
  • Chart reviews for a nursing home
  • Drug reviews or physical exams for insurance companies
  • On-line teaching for masters or doctorally-prepared nursing faculty
  • Protocol reviews for research projects
  • If you want part-time, interview only for part time or find another nurse who can share the job with you.
  • While you are looking for a job:
  • Do not let your license lapse. You cannot practice without a renewal, which generally involves taking a refresher course requiring clinical hours.
  • Keep up with your continuing education credits (CEUs) if required by your State Board of Nursing.
  • Think about going on for an advanced degree so that you may teach part time at a community college or in a CNA course.


For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.



Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.