Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part One

Are you interested in pursuing a career in healthcare? Pursuing your dream job can be an arduous process, but it is one that can really pay off in the end. But what if you are visually impaired? Or what if you develop vision loss during your pursuit? No matter your visual impairment, you have to believe in yourself. With enough hard work and motivation, you can achieve your goals.

Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities by Detra Bannister

Older woman in wheelchair with caregiver

For some odd reason when I was growing up I never thought about nurses or doctors being sick or having disabilities. I guess their association with treating the sick and injured back to health just gave me a picture of strong, healthy workers who never had to put up with things that the people they treated and took care of had to put up with. Silly, right? But, remember, I was a kid.

I was a kid with Type 1 (Juvenile Diabetes) with onset at age 11. My dad had serious heart problems and allergies. So from the time I was a child we gave each other our needed injections, mine insulin, his allergy injections. I think this is what got me interested in becoming a nurse, as did visiting the lab and people in the hospital, which was attached to the clinic we went to for checkups. Every time we were at the clinic it seemed there was always someone we knew in the hospital. So I had ample opportunities to observe nurses and doctors at work and they impressed me.

When I graduated from high school and had to make a decision about what vocational path to take, I quickly and easily chose nursing. I did very well through nursing school and was always able to get jobs as a student nurse, graduate nurse, and finally, a real nurse. When the hospital I chose hired me as an Operating Room Nurse, I was as happy and proud as I could be, for this was my dream job. It was here scrubbing with the surgeons and circulating the room at other times making sure everyone from the anesthesiologist, scrub techs, doctors, and patient had everything they needed at the moment they needed it. Coordinating the operating room activities and keeping things running smoothly was a job I loved. This is where I began to realize I could do just about anything I put my mind to.

I loved every minute of this work, even taking call and working all hours of the day and night. My longest stint was 20 hours on the Fourth of July where we had all kinds of trauma cases from firecrackers blowing up in the hands of careless users leaving them with missing fingers and sometimes worse. After a number of years working like this with a disease that is complicated to manage in an ongoing environment, I decided it would be in my best interest to change fields in nursing. Thinking that a new job would be less stressful and more manageable, I went back to school and became a Community and School Health Nurse. This is what I did for the next 14 years.

After 20 years of working as a Registered Nurse, I suddenly lost my sight due to the longevity of childhood diabetes. Without going into a lot of detail, it was a long and arduous road getting back into nursing. First of all, I had to deal with the loss of sight emotionally and mentally, then physically had to go through a rehabilitation program in order to develop the very necessary blindness compensatory skills everyone who loses sight needs.

All the while I am thinking of nothing more than getting back to work as a nurse. There was absolutely nothing that interested me like nursing. So I worked hard and discarded every bit of advice I got from friends, family, counselors, or anyone else who said I needed to change careers.

Tune in tomorrow to read the rest of Detra’s story, Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities Part Two, on the Visually Impaired: Now What? blog. Discover how Detra found gainful employment in the healthcare field despite her vision loss.

Related Links:

Even Nursing Careers Can Be Adjusted to Vision Loss

Adjusting My Career to Vision Loss

About Careers in Healthcare and Professionals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired