Paralyzed Nurse Overcomes Discrimination

Latisha Anderson nurse wheelchairLatisha Anderson is an “RN on wheels,” a paralyzed nurse who has overcome the odds to succeed in her chosen field. She has proven that she is capable of doing all the things that other nurses do and can manage the challenges of the job even though she uses a wheelchair.

Anderson was struck by a stray bullet when she was 17, just two months before she was planning to join the Marines, and became paralyzed. After she was shot, Anderson received treatment at East Carolina University, the same college she would later attend. She obtained her GED from Wake Tech and rode buses three times a day. If a bus arrived without a wheelchair lift, she called Washington, DC to complain.

She was inspired by an article she read about Barry McKeown, a former surfer in Hawaii who was paralyzed in a car accident and uses a wheelchair. He managed to have a successful nursing career. Anderson wrote to him, and he told her all she needed was a stand-up wheelchair.

Anderson graduated from both East Carolina University and online Grand Canyon University. She drove herself to Arizona to pick up her online diploma. Both schools published articles about her and her accomplishments. She has worked in psychiatric units, a veterans’ hospital, and a senior center.

Even though she has achieved many of her goals, some people still question Anderson’s abilities. She has faced bias toward her disability on the job, but she is determined to show that she can do her work just as well as anyone else.

Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina hired her through a nursing agency. She underwent a phone interview but did not meet with anyone in person until her scheduled first day on the job, March 2. When her employer found out that she used a wheelchair, she was sent home and told that they could not use her.

Anderson refused to accept that. She filed a complaint with the governor’s office, called a reporter, and sent out a number of emails explaining that she works hard and desperately needs income from the prison job. The prison called her back and asked her to start on March 16.

Latisha Anderson is an inspiration because she has proven that she is just as capable of doing her job as a person who does not use a wheelchair. She has shown strength and determination and has stood up for her own rights and those of disabled people across the country. We wish her success in her new job.

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