Class of 2019

When I started college, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the nursing program, especially with a hearing impairment. Hearing in the classroom was hard enough, but the clinical setting posed a whole new challenge. I feared that I had chosen the wrong career path, and that my disability was going to keep me from my dream. But Walsh University’s Office of Accessibility Services, faculty and staff sat down and worked with me, helping me to excel in the classroom.

My professors each wear a Phonak FM system, which acts as an amplifier or personal microphone so that I can hear their lectures, and they check back in after class to make sure I heard the whole lecture. At first, classes that were largely discussion based, like my Honors classes, were intimidating because I feared that I would strain to hear and not be able to fully understand what was going on. But we worked it out so my amplifier could be passed around the room so that people could talk into it and I could still hear them. When students ask questions, they will repeat the question, in case I wasn’t able to hear it.

For the clinical setting, my professors helped me find an amplified stethoscope so that I am able to hear the patient’s heartbeat and lung sounds. The nursing faculty were so helpful in showing me exactly how it works and giving me the confidence in my abilities. I have felt very supported by everyone here, and no one looks at me different because of my hearing impairment.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, my friend suggested that we apply for a job at a local nursing home to grow and practice our nursing skills. I loved working there with the residents. They would tell incredible stories and it was a privilege and an honor to care for them. I always had mixed feelings when they left, because while I was happy to see them regain their health and strength, I always missed them a lot.

This summer, I interned with Akron Children’s Hospital with the ASCEND program and got to spend time with kids all day, helping make their day a little brighter. The kids are so resilient and they inspire me. They loved my amplified stethoscope, trying it out to listen to their own heartbeats. What I really appreciate being able to do, though, is care for their families as well. Sometimes people forget that the parents need a little extra care as well because it is hard for them to see their child so sick. I also love to take the siblings outside and blow bubbles or color, and make sure they get attention as well. I actually ended up having to work on my birthday, but I didn’t mind, in fact it was extra special because they greeted me with so many cards, balloons, and a cake. It was such a special birthday because I got to spend it with the kids. I gained so much experience from this internship and it has helped me to realize how much I would love to work in pediatric nursing.

Walsh has helped me in ways that I didn’t even imagine. Through the Honors Program, Community Kitchen, a Global Learning experience in Rome and more, I have grown in the Walsh family. I think that the amazing thing about the Walsh family is the fact that no matter if you look sad or have the biggest smile on your face, or anything in between, someone is going to be there to listen to you, to cry with you, to celebrate with you. People here really want what is best for you and want to help you achieve that in any way that they can, and I am a testimony to that. Walsh has been the most incredible place to truly learn and grow. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to surround myself with.

In September 2018, Annie wrote a personal essay about her journey at Walsh, which was shared on the hearing loss community website  You can read Annie’s essay here.