From a deaf nurse – Lucy’s story
I was diagnosed with a hearing loss at the age of two. I was fitted with the most powerful hearing aids; I did not get much benefit from them and I therefore received my first cochlear implant when I was 16 year old. During my hospital stay I observed the role of nursing staff which gave me an idea of my long term career; to become a Registered Nurse. I have always been compassion about caring for other people whilst growing up.
I enrolled into college, I achieved the grades I have wanted and met the entry requirements for university and fortunately I was lucky to obtain a place at university. During my three years course I have faced many challenges as a deaf student. For example, the loop system was never turned on and despite my effort communicating with the disability officer nothing was done about it which meant I missed out on a lot of information in classes. There was lack of support for a deaf person in place, I was informed that I was the first person to be deaf and to attended that particular university which resulted in many issues due to lack of deaf awareness.
During my 2nd year placement I was asked to wear a badge saying ‘I am deaf,’ what gives my mentor the right to request this? You wouldn’t ask a person of different race to wear a badge saying, for example, ‘I am black.’ It is wrong. I obviously declined her request to wear the badge. She went on to explain that it would be very unsafe for me to practice without a badge, just because I was deaf. I had many health assessments completed prior to starting my course and passed these requirements.
I managed to complete my course and landed my first job as a nurse on a general mixed surgical and medical ward, everything went well.
I migrated to Australia in 2011 myself not knowing anyone except a family friend who I stayed with for a while. It took a while for me to become registered with the nursing board. I eventually did and had to find a job quickly and I landed a job in an Outpatient clinic where it did not involve much nursing skills.
I missed the work on the ward and having worked in a clinic for two years I decided to find a job on the ward. My manager at the time stated that I worked well and she didn’t have any issues with me. I applied for two jobs in a hospital and obtained two interviews in two weeks, one for each job. During my second interview I received shocking news, the interviewer considered giving me a job and he chased up with the references. However, the information I received was appalling; I was told that it was unsafe for me to work on the ward because I may not hear the emergency bells and would not be able to cope in an emergency situation. There was no evidence of me not being able to carry out this task, bearing in mind, I did not do ward work and therefore this information was based on theory and not facts. Hence, I was in a very difficult situation as it was very hard for me to find a job.
I decided to leave the clinic altogether and apply for a job through a nursing agency who did not require references. I worked hard on many wards and received a positive feedback. 6 months later, I decided to try again and I used the agency for a reference which resulted me a job on the ward.
It is highly likely that I will face further challenges if we don’t act now. We must raise awareness and break the sound barrier together as a team. I would like to see people with hearing loss having the same equal rights as hearing people. My message to the public is that people with hearing loss are more than capable of working in a health setting whether you’re considering to become a nurse, doctor, occupational therapy and etc.
Fight for your right and show what you can do!