Common Challenges for Nursing Students with Disabilities: Where to Start? Common Challenges for Nursing Students with Disabilities: Where to Start?

  • Common Challenges for Nursing Students with Disabilities: Where to Start?
  • by Beth Marks


Some common challenges for student nurses that we have seen relate to the following:

  1. limited information about accommodations;
  2. uncomfortable asking for accommodations;
  3. not aware of disability student (DS) services or the school has no DS Office;
  4. lack of role models;
  5. no mentors who share his or her disability status to be a resource;
  6. lack of faculty advocates;
  7. not knowing how to or if it is necessary to disclose a disability; and,
  8. not knowing civil rights and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (e.g., lack of knowledge as to when and how rights are being violated).



For nurses who acquire a disability in practice, challenges often relate to lack of peer support, unfamiliarity with assistive devices, limited advocacy skills related to requesting accommodations and knowledge of the rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Attitudinal barriers remain the most significant barrier for students and nurses with disabilities. We are still rooted in a medical model of disabilities and have not embraced a socio-political lens for understanding disability, which would allow us to more readily see nurses with disabilities as valued health professionals.