Imagine after years of preparing to enter the workforce and finally landing your dream job, you begin to lose your vision. You feel defeated and everyone around you thinks you won’t be able to find gainful employment or continue to work. Despite the critics and those who doubt your ability, you must always remember that you are capable.
Detra Bannister took those words to heart yesterday in her story, “Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part One” on the CareerConnect Blog. Read how Detra overcame her vision loss and championed her skills into a successful career in today’s story.
Nurses with Disabilities Have Great Abilities, Part Two by Detra Bannister
As blessings go, I had a friend who, of all things, was an ophthalmologist, who really believed in me and offered me a job. He told me that when I finished rehab and was efficient using my computer with the speech/magnification software, he had work I could do for him. I was floored because I did not know what I could do for him. What I did know was that I could not go back to work in an operating room, nor could I practice nursing in schools again because I could no longer drive to the 30 schools I covered throughout the county. But after listening to my friend’s idea of doing research and consulting with patients of his who had no promise of better sight, my life turned around. This gave me a great opportunity to perfect many old skills, pursue new skills, and to better my knowledge and experience to do well and make a living. (Thank you, Dr. Karl!)
Along the way, I took another job with the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. That job led me down another road where I gained more diverse experience and knowledge. By the time that work phased out, I had learned plenty about consumers and employment, not only in my state, but nationwide.
Eventually, I become more and more interested in vision loss and helping others who were traveling the same road I had years before. This is where I became employed by the American Foundation for the Blind and ended up with the career of a lifetime. No, they were not looking for a nurse, but they did need someone with the skills I had. They were looking for someone with knowledge and experience with state rehabilitation agencies, and employment and vision loss. Hmm, that was me!
It was with AFB that I used many of my nursing skills and all of my nursing knowledge to help hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the next 14 years from all over the world. When I took the job as CareerConnect Employment Specialist, I had no idea how much I knew from nursing would impact my work in a most positive way. (Note: All of my experiences were amalgamated to make me a perfect fit for this job. It was what I had learned over the years combined with what I knew that made this adventure work.)
Being involved in rehabilitation and helping to mend others is much like nursing in a number of ways. People who lose their sight many times do so from many different diseases or injuries and it was helpful for me to understand the disease. This made it possible for me to help them to learn about the disease too. It is very helpful for them to learn how life is still ahead of them after some hard work. It is so rewarding to hear the hope and happiness in their voices when they understand what all they can do and all of the different occupations they can attain, even in healthcare.
I personally know of a dozen or more nurses with vision loss, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders who are successfully employed. All of them use their own experiences to be more sensitive to the people they are helping. I know a nurse with vision loss who is a faculty member at a Chicago University School of Nursing, another one who is deaf and a researcher at another Chicago University, one who is a labor & delivery nurse, one who was executive director of a disability program, a school nurse, and on it goes. I also know doctors who are still successfully employed who are blind or visually impaired practicing careers that range from naturopaths and psychologists, to cardiologists and audiologists.
The point I am making is that people with disabilities have great ability. And people who are blind or visually impaired can, and do, work in the field of healthcare.