I have a hearing loss in both ears from a genetic condition from birth. I do wear hearing aids, but it still does not give me 100% hearing. Against all odds I have had a good career in nursing and have a MSN in nursing education.
I have been in nursing for 38 years with my experience ranging from open heart surgical intensive care, recovery room, NICU, pediatrics, office nursing and nurse educator in a practical nursing program. I am older now, and with my hearing loss I find it stressful to work in the fast-paced fields I was accustomed to throughout my career. I would like to find a job using my nursing expertise in a new area that does not require intense focus with the hearing sense.
I have been thinking of alternative medicine, but I do not know where to find such jobs. I also have thought of working with animals. Right now I am at a loss as to where to go, and where I will feel the least stressed in the nursing profession. Can you help guide me? I have not seen an issue like this in your Dear Donna column in Nurse.com
Dear Donna replies:
I have heard from many nurses over the years who have hearing loss, including another one just this week. Fortunately, the nursing profession offers something for everyone. You have so many options I barely know where to start.
You have great experience and credentials. Since you mention alternative medicine and working with animals, contact the American Holistic Nurses Association (www.ahna.org) for more information about the specialty. You also should go to local, regional or national meetings of AHNA to mix and mingle with nurses working in this growing field. I understand in-person networking can be challenging for someone with hearing loss, but it would be worthwhile. When there’s something you want to d, it makes sense to rub elbows with those already doing it. If you search for “holistic nursing” at Nurse.com, you’ll come up with many articles and online courses to give you an overview of this field.
I also would suggest you contact local chapters of agencies such as the American Heart Association and American Red Cross. They have various paid positions for nurses and are very disability friendly as are most social service agencies. If you are not working and find these agencies don’t have any paid employment opportunities right now, offer to volunteer there for the time being. This is a good way to get your foot in the door, hone old skills and learn new ones, and expand your professional network. Networking is a great way to explore options and find a job. Volunteering often leads to paid employment.
Another option to consider is contacting your state Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) to see about doing chart reviews for them. Find out more at by going to the website for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (www.cms.gov). Once on the website, click on the Medicare tab, scroll down until you see the Quality Initiatives/Patient Assessment Instruments heading in the right-hand column, and click on the Quality Improvement Organizations link.
Because you have an MSN and teaching experience, you also might consider online teaching for a university or community college. Most of the work, including teaching, discussion, communicating and testing, is done online.
There also are many opportunities for nurses to do research and write if you have that interest
These are just a few possibilities. If there is any way you can come to my Career Alternatives for Nurses seminar, it would be a great starting point for you. You’d learn about so many different options along with related professional associations, sources of job openings and information, and some actual employer leads. This way you could pick and chose what would work well for you and what interests you. See where I’ll be: (http://www.nurse.com/events).
One last tip is to check out the website Exceptionlanurse.com, which is a site offering support and information for nurses with disabilities.