Nurses with Disabilities

Discrimination in the workplace is an unfortunate occurrence in some industries. Being unfairly judged or treated because of race, gender or creed is not only unlawful, but also unethical. But while many people are aware that race and gender biases exist, very few people talk about or know about disability discrimination, called ableism. Disability discrimination takes place in this country despite the passing of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990 and can commonly be seen in fields where being in top physical form is important to job performance, like the medical field. Today, there are several organizations and programs that aim to break this trend and support nurses with disabilities in the workplace.

Nurses with Disabilities is a non-profit professional organization that raises awareness and offers support for healthcare providers with some kind of disability, including hearing loss, ADHD, paralysis and other physical limitations. Their aim is to support the rights of all nurses, especially those with chronic health conditions, through education and advocacy.

The Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss is also a professional organization dedicated to the advocacy, mentorship and assistance of health care professionals affected by hearing loss. It was created in light of the American’s with Disabilites Act, which increased the number of non-hearing professional entering the health workplace. They focus their attention on a wide range of health care professionals from dentists and veterinarians to EMTs and nurses.

If you are an individual with a disability, it is essential that you read and understand the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a piece of civil rights legislation that was signed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1990 and later amended in 2009. It prohibits employers from discriminating against those individuals that possess a disability, which it defines as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." Major life activities include: the ability to care for oneself, perform manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. The health care industry is bound by law to comply with the ADA and therefore should not discriminate against any health care professional with a disability in employment, salary or treatment. Students that have dreams of entering the health care profession, but are hindered by a disability or are being discriminated against should look to one of these organizations for support and information.

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