As a former school nurse I was very excited to see CareerConnect Mentor, Audrey Demmitt, post her story about working as a nurse with vision loss on AFB's VisionAware. Although it has been many years and a career change later, by reading Audrey’s experiences I was easily able to relive my own experiences of adjusting my career to vision loss through hers. For the longest time I thought I must be the only practicing nurse who was visually impaired and it was very challenging, lonely and stressful. My experience happened before the ADA was passed but, thankfully, my employer, one of 55 Boards of Education in West Virginia, did all they could to empower me to keep working. They arranged for me to travel from school to school with a willing co-worker, provided a magnification screen for my computer monitor, allowed me to flex my travel schedule to that of other co-workers and were just plain supportive like Audrey's employer was.
The only medications I had to administer were immunizations and tine tests for TB and, at the time, I could see the labels with a magnifier; yet, I still always had someone read it back to me for extra safety precautions. In the 14 years that I served as a school nurse there were never any mishaps with students and I believe this was due to the support of my employer and co-workers combined with my own keen sense of safety and attentiveness to detail.
During those 14 years, I never met another visually impaired nurse although I did meet nurses who were disabled otherwise. Over the last decade plus, I’ve discovered and met numerous nurses who are blind or visually impaired working in various settings and fields of nursing and it makes me feel proud that they are still fulfilling their calling in spite of the challenges they may face from employers, co-workers or state licensing boards. Notice I never mentioned any opposition from the patients or clients of these nurses as they are almost always very accepting.
Learn about nursing with a disability by reading Audrey Demmitt's story and those of others working in healthcare. You’ll be amazed and impressed at what the human spirit can do with a little help from today’s technology and the support of an employer and one’s peers. Read Audrey's story about being a visually impaired nurse.