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How can I tell fellow employees about my medical condition?

Friday August 10, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I have been out of work for the past year and now am applying for case management positions. I need to wear a compression sleeve for lymphedema. I can go to the interviews without my sleeve on; however, when I am hired I will have to wear my sleeve (along with a glove) daily. I do not want to reveal early on why I need to wear it. Any suggestions as to how I can answer questions about this as a new employee?

Needs an Answer

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs an Answer,

When someone asks you (and someone eventually will), be prepared with a simple answer such as, "I've had some swelling (or circulatory) issues and this helps." If they continue the conversation with something such as, “Have you seen someone about it?” say nonchalantly and with a smile, “Oh yes. Everything is under control. Thanks for your concern." If you wish, you can add, "It doesn't affect my work in any way."

If someone attempts to delve further, you can reply again with a nonchalant answer such as, "It's really nothing major, but I appreciate your concern." Then change the subject or just go back to your work.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.