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I am a nursing student with narcolepsy. What job options are out there for me?

Friday December 14, 2012
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Dear Donna,

I am a nursing student and have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. I have been exploring my options and, although I have a great passion for nursing, I am wondering if this career path is a feasible option for me with this condition.

Student With Narcolepsy

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Student With Narcolepsy,

Where there is a will there is always a way. The great thing about nursing is there is something for everyone in this profession. Additionally, there are many nurses with any numbers of significant disabilities and challenges who have found a way to use their nursing background for the greater good. There are many ways and places to make a difference.

Visit the website www.ExceptionalNurse.com for nurses with disabilities. The site founder and administrator, Donna Maheady, ARNP, EdD, is the author of “Leave No Nurse Behind: Nurses Working with Disabilities” and “Nursing Students with Disabilities: Change the Course”. Contact Maheady and ask her to connect you with other nurses with narcolepsy.

While it may not be ideal for you to work in a traditional direct patient care setting (although there may be ways around that), there are many other possibilities for you. Discuss with your primary care provider what he or she believes is safe and reasonable for you to do based on your particular situation and treatment plan. Based on that, look into options that fit your needs. These might include either home-based or office-based nursing positions; those that involve telephone and computer nursing work in various settings; or different outpatient settings such as public health, community-based nursing clinics and others. There is more than one way to be a nurse.

And since the focus of healthcare is shifting to wellness promotion and maintenance, you might look into becoming a wellness educator or coach. To do this you might become self-employed or work for a holistic wellness center or insurance company. Keep in mind that networking — using personal connections — is an effective way to find and get a job, especially when you have obstacles to overcome.

Before applying for jobs, be sure to familiarize yourself with your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also, do an Internet search for “Narcolepsy Support Groups” and contact others with the condition in your local area. People who are living with narcolepsy can be a great help in navigating your way through life and working with the disorder.

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.