My name is Leora Heifetz and I have had a visual disability since birth. I work as a registered nurse (RN) on a labor and delivery unit in a level three hospital in the Chicago Metropolitan area and on a daily basis I am engaged in directly caring for patients. My job requires me to monitor women during labor and the delivery of their newborn baby. Upon delivery, I am involved with caring for both mother and child, until they are considered to be stable and are transferred to another unit in the hospital for the remainder of their stay.When a woman requires surgery related to pregnancy or delivery, I serve as the operating room nurse, caring for her before, during, and following the procedure. My job requires me to be skilled in monitoring a fetus’s heart rate during labor, a woman’s uterine contractions, and any illnesses or complications that a pregnant woman may encounter. Starting IVs, administering medications, and giving injections are also a part of my responsibilities in this position.
My coworkers are all kind, caring, and compassionate. We work as a team to better our work environment and stay current with the updates and changes pertaining to our field. We are like a family and help each other both in times of need and times of joy. It was my coworkers who cared for me when I was in labor with my daughter and who are anticipating the birth of my second child.
My current job came about serendipitously. After having left my position as a labor and delivery nurse at another hospital, I interviewed at my current hospital for a position on the antepartum floor, where women who have problems during pregnancy that require an extended hospital stay are cared for and monitored. During my interview, my prospective manager told me that she felt I belonged on a labor and delivery unit. I informed her that I was under the impression that there were no positions currently available on that unit. She then told me that she knew of a position that had just become available that morning, and proceeded to arrange an impromptu interview with the manager of labor and delivery who offered me the job on the spot. I have been working there for the past year and a half.Working as a nurse fits with my previous job experiences as a camp counselor, an administrator and as a teacher. Nursing requires one to be caring, compassionate, an educator, and to have the ability to relate to people in all stages of life and from all types of cultural backgrounds. For example, as a camp counselor, I was involved with young children and cared for them when they got hurt; I also dealt with their parents. As a teacher, I had to educate my students and be sure that they understood what was being taught. This required me to adapt the subject material based on age and ability.Because I have a visual disability, I often need to adjust my surroundings to better perform my job. When performing an invasive procedure, such as starting an IV, I am always sure to use intense lighting so that I have the best opportunity to see. I perform tasks such as charting, which is done by computer, and evaluating the tracing of fetal heart rates and uterine contractions, by wearing special reading glasses which are a higher magnification than normal. Since the computer font at work is small, and cannot be enlarged, my coworkers understand that when an adjustment is made to the charting procedures, I may require additional time until I am familiar with the changes. When drawing up a medication, I hold the bottle and syringe close enough so that I can see. If I am ever unsure, I do not hesitate to ask a coworker for assistance or to double-check my work. These are simply practical safety measures I take as a responsible nurse.
Being that I’ve had a visual impairment since birth you may wonder how I managed my way through school. While in nursing school at Loyola University Chicago, my teachers were usually very supportive and accommodating. They did need the occasional reminder, though, to enlarge handouts before class. The administration informed me that if I felt I needed assistance or additional assistive devices to let them know. There was one teacher, however, who was very discriminatory towards me. She made my life miserable. After I reported her behavior to the school administration, they asked her not to return the following semester.
I love my job because it allows me to be a part of the most meaningful time in people’s lives. There is nothing more beautiful and awesome than regularly witnessing the birth of a child! Anyone considering nursing as a career needs to be good in science as it pertains to the study of the human body. A nurse must also be compassionate and caring, a good listener, and able to help people through challenging life changes. Finally, in addition to being a medical professional, a nurse must also be a good teacher; someone who can adjust what is being taught based on a person’s age, gender, race, ability/disability, and level of education. This skill is very important in order to teach your patients about their health and how to optimize it now and for years to come.
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