Nurses with Hearing Loss

By NT Contributor on Fri, May 04, 2012

nurses with hearing lossLet’s face it, hearing loss is a natural part of life—some people are born with a loss and others acquire it. In addition, hearing loss is one of the issues many older people face—nurses are no different. So, it may not be long before you or a nurse you work with will need support. 

Hearing loss doesn’t have to be the end of a career in nursing or an end to aspirations of becoming a nurse. Increasing numbers of nursing students with hearing loss are being admitted to nursing programs. They are graduating and practicing in a variety of health care settings.

Resources are available for nurses and nursing students with hearing loss along with technology and assistive devices.

Where can nurses turn?

 

The Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses provides a wealth of information about amplified and electronic stethoscopes, as well as information for nurses who have had a cochlear implant. www.amphl.org

 

ExceptionalNurse.com provides links to organizations, equipment, technology and nurse/mentors with hearing loss. www.ExceptionalNurse.com

What technology is available?
nurses with hearing loss

A wide range of stethoscopes are available for nurses with hearing loss. Consultation with an audiologist should be part of the process - to ensure that the stethoscope is appropriate.
 

  • A pressure sensitive stethoscope called the UltraScope is available www.ultrascopes.com as well as an electronic “E-Scope”. www.cardionics.com
     
  • Pocket talkers can help to facilitate conversations in one-on-one situations.
     
  • Amplified telephones and captioned telephones are available for use at home or in health care settings.
     
  • Assistive listening devices are available to facilitate communication in classroom situations.
     

What can all nurses do?

 

Nurses are often afraid to disclose a hearing loss. They fear discrimination, embarrassment and potential loss of employment.

 

We can all play a part in promoting healthy hearing and effective communication.
 

  • Think about your own hearing and recognize that hearing loss may be part of your life.  If indicated, get the help you need— serve as a role model for others.nurses with hearing loss
     
  • Do your part to facilitate a workplace that encourages disclosure and acceptance of staff that have a hearing loss.
     
  • Take a sign language class.
     
  • Share hearing related resources with patients and staff.
     
  • Invite a speaker from your local Deaf Service Center to provide an in-service to a group of nurses.
     
  • Consider starting a “Say What” club where nurses and staff with hearing loss can exchange ideas.

  • Share your personal experience with hearing loss or your experience working with a colleague who has a hearing loss.

Anne Greenwald, RN, Surgical Nurse at Bend Surgery Center. She works in Oregon and serves as a mentor with ExceptionalNurse.com. She is profoundly deaf.

Photo courtesy: www.ExceptionalNurse.com



10 COMMENTS

Shirley Parrott-Copus 4 weeks ago
as i write this i sit at my lap top with tears in my eyes I have been a LPN for 14 years and worked mostly in psych almost 2 yrs ago i went back to school for my RN I disclosed my being HOH to my adviser the day I registered for classes took all my pre reqs and got my seat in the program. When I interviewed for my seat I again disclosed being HOH as well as having had a conference with the dean of students at my school and disclosing being HOH to him. Today I had a meeting with the dean of students and the nursing dean, they wanted to inform me that feel I am a safety issue in clinicals, not because anything has happened, but because I am HOH and unable to hear call lights bed alarms ect. and they are unwilling to make accommodations to help me be successful. After I brought up this site and a few others I have found they said the needed to do some more research but feel as though it would be best for me to change my major and will be dismissing me from the nursing program. The dean of nursing went as far as to say "in 42 years of nursing I have never heard of or worked with a nurse that was hard of hearing" but she is also the same person that asked me "if you have a stroke pt that is unable to speak how will you hear them?" I am hear broken and very sad at how uninformed people are about HOH and deaf people. I am not going to give up I will try to find another school to let me finish but more people need to be informed that being HOH or deaf does not make us unable to work and does not make us a "safety issue" :-(

Anonymous 6 months ago
I have been involved in nursing forever....was a volunteer at age 13, nursing assistant, LPN and now RN since 1973....am still working however over the years have had declining hear loss....this is a genetic thing...both my grandmother and mother are very HOH....the BEST thing that ever happened to me is getting hearing aids...yes they were expensive but the only regret is that I did not do it sooner....never realized how much I struggled. I have the behind the ear and no one ever notices...in fact my co workers teased me because now they have to be careful what to say around me...plus I inform them I have a mute button and can mute the whenever...haha...anyhow the next BEST thing was my Escope stethoscope that is paired to my hearing aid....never have to take my hearing aids out and hear lung, heart and bowel sounds just great....yea this too is pricey but worth it...plus my patients think it is a cool device when I explain it to them...I also have a device that is paired with my cell phone...so treat yourself and keep on keeping on with your nursing......

Alison Cymes 2 weeks ago
What an inspiring story you have! I am in my first year of nursing school now and am worried about my future as a nurse having difficulty knowing if I'm hearing everything I'm supposed to be hearing with low lung and bowel sounds. I developed hard of hearing at around 12 years old and have been wearing hearing aids for years. Technology has come a long way! It made me tear up just now to realize that I have options available to help me with my hearing concerns. I love my cardiology stethoscope but the idea of having an Escope connected to my hearing aids is amazing! I would love to know what app you have for your cell phone. I complain myself when I hear how much these gadgets go for these days. But, I firmly believe that anything that can provide me the ability to hear normally and save a patients life is priceless!

Anonymous 3 years ago
I too am afraid of having difficulty being or becoming an LPN because of my hearing loss.

Anonymous 3 years ago
Iam a LPN for the past 8 yrs and yes I do find it difficult to work in certain facility due to my HOH. I am now in school doing my RN I will not give up, I find that the more I let people know about my condition at first the better it is for me and one more thing you just have to find the right environment, being a nurse is flexible.I like MD offices where it's more quiet or home health.

Anonymous 3 years ago
I have been a nurse for 21 years. Over the past 5 years my hearing has declined despite the use of 2 hearing aids. I am now working in a hospital and am finding it difficult to work having to remove my hearing aids to use my stethoscope. This is an incovenience to me and having to put them in a safe place while I use the stethoscope, risking dropping of losing them is a concern. I am 55 years old and have several years to work before I retire. I am so frustrated right now and stressed. I don't enjoy my nursing job anymore because of the strain of the hearing loss. Just want to have a job where I don't need to depend on my hearing so much.

Anonymous 4 years ago
are this it`s really true? I`m considering to take nursing, but I`m afraid to do so because I`m a hearing impaired..... Should I do it?

Anonymous 4 years ago

I was also terminated 15 yrs ago, although the facility knew I was hearing impaired, they forced me to resign because I could not hear lung/breath sounds very well with my amplified stethescope and did not disclose this problem.


Anonymous 5 years ago

Are you sure you weren't "terminated" because you are a World Class Trouble Maker?!


Anonymous 5 years ago

It is with much frustration that I inform you that I, Anne Greenwald, a deaf RN has been 'terminated" solely due to the fact that I am deaf. Please continue with your work and end this type of discrimination.