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Would You Hire a Deaf Nurse?

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, August 20, 2013

The appeals ruling also said that Wells' "successful completion of the first semester while using an ASL interpreter during her clinical rotations proved the absence of any such threat."

The lawsuit and latest ruling raise question about whether a nurse with hearing loss could, in fact, safely care for patients. Would he or she be able to respond to alarms and codes? Could he or she effectively listen to patients' hearts and lungs? Could such a nurse find professional success?

The answer to those questions is yes, according to the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses (AMPHL), which provides guidance and resources for this population. The Association's website says RNs with hearing loss should be prepared to tell potential employers how they'll accomplish certain clinical functions and what accommodations they'd need to do so.

For instance, they should be ready to describe how they'll do things like assess heart, lung and bowel sounds; communicate when colleagues are wearing masks and they're unable to lip read; and handle code situations.

"Nurses in AMPHL have successfully managed all of these situations with some creative accommodations," the AMPHL website says. Such accommodations for the hearing impaired might include specially-amplified stethoscopes, pagers that beep codes that mean different things, and the use of interpreters.

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9 comments on "Would You Hire a Deaf Nurse?"

Andrea lopez (10/24/2013 at 6:22 PM)
I would like that if you hire a deaf medical assistance and i already have medical assistance certification.

Elisabeth (9/10/2013 at 11:57 AM)
My elderly mother's PCP is deaf and this individual does a fabulous job of accomodating and tending to her needs. I admire this individual greatly for having the courage to pursue their dreams. It is a non issue for us when I take my mother for her appointments. What this college did is down right WRONG and a violation of this individual civil rights. I hope she wins her case and pursues her dream. Best of luck to you.

Suella Thrasher (8/26/2013 at 11:14 AM)
Many hostile comments recorded. This would be a great assignment in a masters program-when I completed my MSN, I had to develop a teaching plan for an autistic student. At first I said to myslef "no way"; but I learned a lot. At the acute bedside (my background) hearing is necessary I can you hear behind you...a code paged overhead..hubbub in a unit..other nurses could adjust to the disability but it would be quite a challenge. Don't know that it's impossible but certainly a serious challenge. There are other places for nurses (auditing for example) but those are best served with experience...bottom line...i don't know...