Campus Support Services for Students With Disabilities In Nursing Education

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 Nursing Education and Campus Support Services for Students With Disabilities

Campus Support Services for Students With Disabilities In Nursing Education

Campus Support Services In Nursing Education, Accommodations for the National Council Licensure Examination In Nursing Education, Student with Physical Disabilities and Campus Support Services In Nursing Education.

Campus Support Services In Nursing Education

    As previously mentioned, most institutions of higher education have established an office responsible for providing support services to students who identify themselves as learning disabled. Use of these services is voluntary, and they are usually available at little or no cost to the student. 

    Services vary among institutions but typically include assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities, identification of appropriate accommodations for the student, guidance counseling, and development of study and test taking skills. 

    Faculty education about students with learning disabilities is another service commonly provided by these offices. Campus teaching and learning centers can assist faculty with how to design courses in line with universal design principles.

Accommodations for the National Council Licensure Examination In Nursing Education

    Nurse educators need to be familiar with the accommodations provided students with disabilities in their states when taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Accommodations are offered to individuals with learning and other disabilities in accordance with the ADA (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2014). 

    Each state individually determines the degree of accommodation offered to students on a case-by-case basis. Educators should investigate and verify the accommodations offered to students in their respective state and encourage students with disabilities to seek appropriate accommodations. 

    One of the most common accommodations has to do with time allotted for the examination. Regulations do change, and the student and faculty are encouraged to check with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website ( or the individual state board of nursing for further information. 

    The student must provide documentation as to what accommodations have been made during his or her course of study before arriving at the testing center.

Student with Physical Disabilities and Campus Support Services In Nursing Education

    Thinking of physical disabilities as hindrances as well as providing only environments that favor those without disabilities may limit opportunities for students and nurses with disabilities (Hargreaves & Walker, 2014). Required abilities that schools use to exclude students may include hearing, seeing, and lifting. 

    Essential competencies for basic nursing programs may be different from those required in specialty graduate programs. For example, Helms and Thompson (2005) suggested that nurse anesthetists and nurse anesthetist students must be able to work in a fast paced environment using complex information that is translated into immediate action. 

    Nurse anesthetists must also be able to work closely with team members, so those who have any impairments that affect their ability to work in groups might not be suited for nurse anesthetist roles.

    The United States Supreme Court ruled more than 35 years ago that a prospective nursing student with a hearing impairment could be denied admission because of the potential for lowering educational standards (Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397 [1979]). However, the ADA and ADAAA have clarified that, with reasonable accommodations, such a student has the potential to succeed. 

    Published reports of students with hearing impairments who have achieved success in nursing programs and in subsequent employment do exist (Manning, 2013; Sharples, 2013). Many aids, such as sophisticated amplified stethoscopes, are now available, and an interpreter could be used for auscultation (Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Losses, n.d.).     

    Through the use of note takers and tape recorders, many students with hearing impairments have little difficulty participating in the classroom. Pagers and cell phones that vibrate may help students keep in contact with others in the clinical setting.

    Much of the evidence regarding physical disabilities is case study evidence. Because some nurses with visual impairments are active in the workforce (American Foundation for the Blind, 2014), faculty could assume that some students with impaired vision may be accommodated.

    Providing alternative learning environments and enabling students to work with preceptors may be accommodations that can reasonably be made. For example, a student with a visual impairment might need a magnifier to help with reading printed matter, larger font sizes on a computer, or a text-to-voice apparatus. 

    Students in wheelchairs may also be accommodated and go on to have a successful nursing career (National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities, 2012). Pecci (2013) presented the case of a nurse who has been in a wheelchair and functioned as a staff nurse. Nurses with missing limbs have also functioned as staff nurses, including starting intravenous infusions (Maheady & Fleming, 2012).

    Lifting restrictions may not be a barrier because many hospitals and nursing homes are striving for an environment that minimizes lifting. Teaching students how to properly use lifting equipment may help prevent workplace injury and future physical limitations. Students who are in their late teens and early 20s may not be fully physically developed, which makes them susceptible to injury (Kneafsy, 2010). 

    Working with clinical partners to promote role modeling of proper patient handling by teaching students how to safely use lifting equipment may prevent injury on the job (Kneafsy, 2010). However, students often observe poor practice during their program of studies.

    In a study conducted by Cornish and Jones (2010), students described poor practices by staff for using lifting equipment and using sheets to move patients. Students also shared that they engaged in these practices themselves because of the need to feel a part of the staff and because in some cases the staff may not have been qualified to use the available lifting equipment (Cornish & Jones, 2010).

    Students may become disabled during their time in school, and thus reasonable accommodations for students with physical disabilities may include time extensions for assignments and the assignment of an “incomplete” grade for courses that may not have been completed on time. 

    Smith Stoner, Halquist, and Glaeser (2011) presented a case study of a baccalaureate nursing student who developed cancer. She continued in her classes, but had to delay clinical experiences because of chemotherapy. The student also received extensions on assignment due dates to accommodate treatment. 

    The student did graduate, albeit later than planned. Faculty need to be careful not to assume what a student may or In a study conducted by Cornish and Jones (2010), students described poor practices by staff for using lifting equipment and using sheets to move patients. 

    Students also shared that they engaged in these practices themselves because of the need to feel a part of the staff and because in some cases the staff may not have been qualified to use the available lifting equipment (Cornish & Jones, 2010).may not be able to do when facing a physical limitation or illness, and should consider ways to provide reasonable accommodations.

    Students may have disabilities that are less readily apparent. Dailey (2010) conducted a phenomenological study of 10 students with various chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, adrenal hyperplasia, and asthma. Students reported they were determined to finish their programs of study despite feeling ill much of the time. 

    Students expressed a desire to appear normal and they feared being penalized for excessive absences, so they often placed their own health, and perhaps those of their patients, in jeopardy by attending class and clinical experiences when perhaps they should not have done so. 

    Dailey (2010) recommended that faculty accommodate students by providing short rest periods during clinical experiences; promoting group work for learning activities, so that the load for all students was lessened; and incorporating self-care strategies into the curriculum that would benefit all students, not just those with chronic illnesses.

    Disabled military veterans are a special population that may require assistance from the veteran support office or the office that handles all students with disabilities. Veterans may have missing limbs or posttraumatic stress disorder (DiRamio & Spires, 2009). 

    The campus support service offices may assist veterans by providing mentors to guide the veterans through the educational process. Learning communities specifically for veterans may also facilitate their academic success (O’Herrin, 2011).

    When students with physical disabilities graduate, their successful employment may depend on nurse managers’ experience in working with nurses who are disabled. A study by Wood and Marshall (2010) revealed that nurse managers rated disabled nurses’ performance as outstanding 22% of the time and rated them as below average only 11% of the time. Most would surmise that disabled nurses’ job performance mirrors that of nondisabled nurses.

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