Q: Dear Donna,
I’ve been a maternity RN for 15 years. I had a spinal injury, which causes 24-hour constant pain. I’m really confused about what kind of nursing position I can do with my disability. I’m an energetic, hands-on nurse. Thanks!
Q: Dear Nurse with pain issues,
The great thing about this profession is that there is something for everyone, and you probably have more options than you realize.
For starters, at companies that do remote monitoring of ICU patients, you sit at a computer most of the time. Most of them welcome nurses with disabilities because it is your nursing knowledge, experience and assessment skills they are interested in. Do an Internet search for “eICU” companies and apply directly to them, or make connections on LinkedIn. The Nurse.com article, “The eICU’s eye never blinks,” explains all about eICUs.
Many insurance companies also have opportunities for nurses that are either home-based or located in their offices. These include telephone triage, telephone advice, disease management, case management and many others. Again, it is your nursing knowledge and experience that is valuable here. Some of these companies even have special recruiters for prospective employees with disabilities of all types and have a special phone number to call if you have a disability and are seeking employment.
The same holds true for the pharmaceutical industry, where nurses work as drug information specialists and other telephone/computer-centric positions. Contact some pharmaceutical companies and ask to speak to the nurse recruiter or healthcare recruiter in the human resources department.
Don’t mention your disability up front unless you are calling an “employee with disabilities” line at a prospective place of employment. Focus on your great nursing experience, knowledge and skill set. Make the disability a footnote rather than a headline. Convey energy, enthusiasm and passion for your work. That will get you further than you can imagine. Read “Can this career be saved?” about working with a disability.