Nurses With One Leg Are Real Life Stars

By NT Contributor on Tue, Jul 12, 2011

The new TNT show HawthoRNe features Suleka Mathew as nurse Bobbie Jackson. The fact that Suleka Mathew was born in India and raised in Canada is interesting to some, but to nurses with disabilities, the fact that she plays a nurse who wears a prosthetic leg is a giant step in the right direction.


The portrayal of nurses with disabilities in movies and television programs is long overdue. Art should reflect life, but often falls short. In real life, nurses with limb differences are practicing every day in a wide range of settings.


Meet a few of our nursing stars—


Tamara Walker is an RN in Oklahoma. She is a pediatric nurse and child safety expert. Tamara lost her leg due to a birth defect. At the time (40 years ago) it was so rare it did not have a name. Now, they believe it may have been caused by amniotic banding syndrome.


Tamara is passionate about protecting children and hosts a parenting radio show on The Ask MomRN Show covers a wide variety of parenting, family, safety and health topics, and features several well-known expert guests. Parents are welcome to call in with questions and speak with MomRN and her guests during the show at You can also visit Tamara at


Carolyn McKinzie, RN lost her leg two years after it was crushed in an auto accident.  Though they told her she would never likely return to nursing, she now works as a dialysis nurse at Maine General Medical Center in Waterville, Maine. 


In addition, Carolyn is a member of Hanger Prosthetic's "Amputee Empowerment Program" and serves as a certified peer counselor.  Her job is to become involved with a patient facing amputation as soon as possible. In some cases she gets to see patients before their amputation, but in trauma situations she may not have a lead time. 


Carolyn McKinzie also wrote a soon to be published book about the experience called, "Walk Softly:  A Woman's Journey Through Limb Loss".


Elisa M. Blair RN, BSN lives in Fruita, Colorado. She is a nursing case manager for William's Case Management. Elisa does nurse case management for worker compensation cases in western Colorado. She lost her leg to cancer at the age of nine. Elisa has worked on an orthopedic unit and in case management for over two years.


As the curtain closes on this article, thank you TNT for showcasing a nurse with a disability, but more importantly, thanks to all of the nurses with disabilities who are practicing every day - making a difference -  far removed from the lights, cameras and glamour of Tinseltown.

Photos courtesy of



Shannon Snyder 1 year ago
I am also a below the knee amputee nurse. I worked in the surgical trenches at Duke for over four years! There are real challenges to be overcome as an amputee nurse and the first is no FMLA in your first year of acclamation back into the nursing workforce.

robin zocchi 1 year ago
You are an inspiration to me my dear friend. Your reference called yesterday and I told them how awesome you are. I miss you and love you. I hope your new job turns out to be a job you love and inspire others.

Anonymous 5 years ago

I agree that it would be more realistic for studios to hire actors/actresses who actually have the disability they are portraying on screen. I think the show's intent was to show a disabled person as being able to carry out a demanding occupation and perform the same tasks as any other nurse, and it does not offend me but rather frustrates me that they did not choose to hire an actress who already lives with a prothesis and could provide a much more realistic portrayal of this character. I've not had the chance to watch HawthoRNe yet, but I would imagine Suleka Mathew is trying to portray the character the best she knows how, and I do not begrudge her for taking on such a difficult role. I only hope that in the future, studios will realize the benefits of hiring the "real deal" when comes to disabled characters.

Anonymous 5 years ago

I agree 100% and know or know of a number of amputee nurses and doctors, however, the TNT series HawthoRNe does not reflect real life. Many of the activities (movements) performed by the “amputee” Bobbie, as real amputee nurses can tell you, would be impossible for above the knee amputees with the type of prosthesis shown in the series. Secondly, Suleka Mathew portrays a left above the knee amputee, but the prosthesis shown as being hers is for a right leg amputee. Just as there is real life amputee nurses there are real life amputee actors available for these types of roles who could then in fact reflect the real life of the above the knee amputee. To the disabled community, the portrayal by Suleka Mathew of an amputee equates to the starring role being played by a white actor in blackface. One would think the star and executive producer of the show would be more sensitive to prejudice in any form.