Advocating for a Student Nurse

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We were contacted by a woman who was deaf and had a dream of becoming a nurse.

Linda enrolled in college and after just one semester of classes, she was told she needed to complete and pass a practical exam in order to continue in the program. Linda was confident that this would not be a problem, but also knew she would need some accommodations in order to take the exam and be on equal footing with the other test-takers.

In particular, she needed a visual/digital stethoscope in order to be able to determine a patient’s blood pressure. The college refused to provide one for her. She turned to the test administrators and they, too, refused to provide one and told her that she would not even be able to use one for the test.

Linda was confused, frustrated and upset, so she contacted Disability Law Colorado for help.

We immediately contacted the test administrators and determined that they were governed by the Colorado Board of Nursing, whom we also contacted. It took very little time for the board to review the issue and agree that the client would be able to use a visual/digital stethoscope for the exam. They agreed that using the device was a reasonable accommodation of her disability and as necessary to test her actual abilities.

Unfortunately, the device is very expensive and the client was unable to purchase or borrow one. We turned back to the Board of Nursing and argued that they needed to provide one for the client and all future test-takers to use for the exam. The board ultimately agreed and now all future nursing students who have hearing impairments and need to use a visual/digital stethoscope for exams will have one provided to them for their use.

The Protection & Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR) program was thrilled to reach such a good resolution not only for an individual client, but for all nursing students in Colorado!