DD: developmentally disability
ID: intellectual disability
AFC: Adult Foster Care (a Medicaid program)
DDS: Department of Developmental Service, formally known as DMR or Dept of Mental Retardation
CP: cerebral palsy
FAS: fetal alcohol syndrome
RN: registered nurse
LPN: licensed practical nurse
CNA: certified nursing assistant
ED: emergency department
An aspect of nursing I never thought of was DD nursing. It’s a population I am very familiar with, as my one and only sibling is severely affected by it. I always thought I wanted to work in some fast paced emergency department, not really building too many relationships with people. I referred to this as “stabilize and bounce.” It sounded ideal. It sounded like it would keep things interesting. I spent some time during school and after graduation in the ED and loved it. Then when I was applying for jobs last year, “Adult Foster Care RN” positions kept popping up in my job search. In addition to interviewing and being offered jobs at traditional nursing institutions, I also fell in love with the idea of becoming a DD nurse. Although I had options, I went with the least “nursey” job I was offered. I have zero regrets. The reason I wanted to work in the medical field in the first place was because of my DD/ID/CPH brother. I wanted to make him better. I wanted to help. Although I don’t do much hands-on nursing here like I would in an ED, I feel like I’m making a much more profound effect on people. I’m helping some of the most vulnerable population and their families. I’m a resource, consultant, teacher, nurse. They say doctors cure, nurses care. DD nursing is the epitome of that, especially since this is something doctors cannot cure. You can’t cure an alcoholic mom who produces an FAS baby. You can’t cure complications in pregnancy which could lead to CP/DD (often going hand in hand). You can’t cure congenital genetic anomalies, like Down Syndrome, Cri du chat, Prader-Willi, Angelmen, Fragile X, Turner’s, etcetera. But you can care for all of them. That’s what I do and I’m damn proud of it.
I learned a lot in school about various medical conditions of the heart, lungs, endocrine system, and the rest of the body systems. DD nursing is something that is barely touched upon in nursing programs. I always knew I would continue to learn more and more when I graduated, but this far surpasses what I had anticipated. Sure I learn new things at my other job. It’s just nothing compared to this. I am incredibly rewarded every day. I am so thankful for this opportunity I have. It’s amazing to be able to say how much I love my job and mean it tremendously.