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Give Nurses in Wheelchairs a Chance

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, December 10, 2013

She says the most common objections to hiring a nurse who uses a wheelchair are doing CPR and lifting patients.

"Some nurse leaders who are hiring people will just stand firm on those, and the applicant can't get any further than that. There isn't any discussion of reasonable accommodations or giving the person a trial," Maheady says. "I always encourage a leader in particular to look at the candidate [and ask] is the person otherwise qualified? Can we at least sit down at the table and see how we can accommodate these nurses? Don't just close the door. Can we just keep the door open long enough to have a discussion?"

When it comes to interviewing, Maheady cautions nurse leaders against doing things like requiring a "walking interview." She says she's not a lawyer, but she does know that "you cannot ask one applicant to do something that you don't ask everyone."

Once the door of possible accommodations is open and the discussion is started, Maheady advises reaching out to other leaders who are accommodating nurses in wheelchairs for advice and feedback.

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1 comments on "Give Nurses in Wheelchairs a Chance"


Katherine Washburn (12/13/2013 at 8:20 AM)
I started using a quad cane 14 years ago when I was working on a surgical pedi unit. I had given my manager a heads up that my legs were getting weaker due to spastic paraparesis and that this would be needed. Within a few days, 2 administrators came to me and offered me a position as the MDS Coordinator at the hospital skilled unit. I have progressed from the cane to a rolling walker, wheelchair with back brace prior to back surgery and then a different new rolling walker. I have continued to perform all duties that come with the MDS Coordinator position as well as all the patient interviews. Of course most of the patients think I am with the therapy dept until I introduce myself. I will be taking a permanent disability retirement starting 1/1/14 but truly appreciate the opportunity that was offered to me and giving me a chance to continue being a productive and very important staff member at Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital.