Would you tell a bright, promising student that he or she just doesn’t have what it takes to be a nurse–before he/she has even been accepted into a nursing program? All too often, this kind of prejudice is exactly what students with disabilities encounter when they apply to nursing schools. Just ask Susan Fleming, MN, RN, a nurse who was born without a left hand. Fleming has been a nurse for more than 20 years and currently teaches nursing at Washington State University (WSU) in Spokane, yet she was once denied admission to a nursing program because the school automatically assumed—incorrectly—that she would not be able to perform certain essential nursing skills with only one hand.

To inspire students with disabilities to not give up on their dreams of becoming a nurse, and to promote disability awareness among nursing school admissions committees, faculty and nursing skills labs, Fleming has collaborated with Donna Maheady, EdD, ARNP, to develop a new DVD, “Nursing with the Hand You Are Given: A Message of Hope for Nursing Students with Disabilities.” Maheady is the author of the award-winning book Nursing Students with Disabilities: Change the Course and founder of ExceptionalNurse.com, an online community for nurses and students with disabilities.

The DVD is presented through the eyes of a nursing student with a disability, who interviews Fleming about how she taught herself to perform a variety of nursing skills with one hand. Fleming takes the student into the nursing skills lab, where she demonstrates such skills as putting on sterile gloves, giving an injection, lifting a patient and applying a sterile dressing.

Produced with support from WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing, the film is also designed for use by state departments of vocational rehabilitation and disability services staff at universities, colleges and technical schools to encourage students with disabilities to pursue nursing careers.

The “Nursing with the Hand You Are Given” DVD can be purchased for $45 plus tax and shipping. For more information, or to order, contact the WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing Multimedia Library at (509) 324-7321 or icn.productions@wsu.edu.

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