I Do Not Want a Nurse With a “Stress Disability”

Posted on May 18, 2015


You want to talk lawsuits, honey? You are one big walking lawsuit waiting to happen for any hospital that hires you.

In the news: nursing student Jennifer Burbella is suing her college because she has twice failed a class required to get her nursing degree. Did the professor fail to teach her the material? No… the lawsuit alleges that Burbella is disabled by poor concentration, anxiety, and depression. After failing the exam once, Burbella requested a “reasonable accommodation” consisting of a distraction-free exam environment, extra time to take the exam, AND that the professor should be available to answer her questions by telephone. For her second attempt, the college allowed the distraction-free environment and the extra time, but the professor allegedly did not make herself available to answer Burbella’s questions. Burbella failed a second time, so… blammo, lawsuit.

A friend my age who is a nurse commented on this case: “the cupcake generation.” I do suspect that the coddling, hovering, and over-protective parenting style that is practically required these days is demolishing our nation’s youth, and I suspect that this could be an example of such. But… for the sake of discussion, let’s run with the claim that this chick is actually disabled by her anxiety, depression and poor concentration.

As a manager working with civilian employees, I have experienced “reasonable accommodation” for the disabled.  I had co-workers who were blind, deaf, and had cerebral palsy, and they were still very effective analysts, crisis managers, and intelligence experts. You don’t  NEED to see or hear or move gracefully to work in the intelligence field or crisis management; there are accommodations like accessible computer systems or service dogs. You DO need good critical thinking skills, good comprehension, and good communication skills. There is NO reasonable accommodation for those requirements. Don’t got ’em? Can’t do the job. Period.  “Reasonable accommodation” is NOT a license for someone with a “disabled” label to have any job they want; they still have to actually be able to DO the job.

On to nursing: do any of us really believe that nursing is not a high-stress, high-anxiety job? Too many patients, too many demands; life-and-death situations, sometimes ending in heart-wrenching deaths and grieving families; the chaos of the ER, or of the code being called in a patient’s room; the pressure of getting dosage exactly right lest the medication kill the patient; the demanding surgeon in the OR who belittles his staff for the slightest mistakes, with a patient’s life on the line the whole time.

If this young woman’s anxiety is so bad that she can’t even pass a school exam without all the hand-holding the school has already provided, then frankly, she is not suited for nursing work. I’m pretty sure that in nursing, there is NO reasonable accommodation for the ability to competently handle stress and anxiety. Don’t got it? Can’t do the job. Period.

If some bleeding-heart type wants to weigh in here and tell me how cruel and hard I am, that this beautiful young woman so full of life should be allowed to follow her dreams of being a nurse — sure. YOU can be her patient. YOU can be the one she doses incorrectly, or who she walks out on in the middle of her shift, or who she blows up at or refuses to treat at all, because of “stress.”

I don’t want a nurse with a “stress disability” or a documented inability to concentrate. You want to talk lawsuits, honey? You are one big walking lawsuit waiting to happen for any hospital that hires you.