Amidst bullying, Joanne Baniqued hears need for nurses to have a strong voice

Being hearing impaired ‘has its ups and downs.’

Being hearing impaired ‘has its ups and downs.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

Comedian Joy Behar’s crude comment about nurses wearing “doctors stethoscopes” did not really upset dialysis nurse Joanne Baniqued.

Joanne, 25, thought the Miss America episode that offended many of her fellow nurses was a simple case of lay people needing “more education, better communication.”

Precisely for this reason she founded QD Nurses in 2014. QD Nurses — or Everyday Nurses – is a playful and also informative online resource about the nursing profession: From students looking for nursing schools and comparing tuitions, new graduates preparing for the Nclex and other nursing exams, and nurses who may be searching for career options.

“It is a forum for nurses to communicate and help one another,” said Joanne, a nurse at Davita Dialysis Center in the Bronx, in an interview with The FilAm.

Joanne, a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, is the daughter of a nurse. Her mother is a pediatric nurse at the Metropolitan Hospital on 92nd Street in East Harlem.

“I was inspired by my mom. When I was a kid she used to bring me to her work; I watched her take care of her patients,” she said. As her dream is to be an information technology programmer, QD Nurses brings together her passions in health care and communication.

Joanne entered the profession challenged, but not hindered, by a hearing disability. She was diagnosed with partial hearing loss at age 4.

“Growing up, it never bothered me. I didn’t feel like I was disabled. I didn’t tell anybody until after college. Some of my friends may have thought I was being rude for not answering when they say hi,” she shrugged.

At home, she didn’t wear hearing aids so her family would tend to scream to get her attention, like getting her to come down to dinner. “Hearing aids give me a headache,” she said.

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. according to WebMD. That one born deaf would pursue a career in health care is not surprising. That one with disability can do her job quite well gives Joanne immense pride. She was recently promoted to charge nurse at Davita, overseeing the treatment of 80 to 90 patients a week.

“My job is to get patients in and give them their treatment, then get them out of the door after they’ve completed their treatment. Dialysis is usually three times a week. I see 80 to 90 patients a week, so I get to have a kind of relationship with them,” she said.

The bullying on account of her disability began in school.

“I was bullied by a professor every time I asked her to repeat herself…She mumbled,” said Joanne. “I had to switch professors.”

At work, the hearing loss got in the way only in the beginning. Soon her co-workers learned to speak more clearly and adjust.

“It’s fast-paced at work. Some patients mumble,” said Joanne. “I have to remind patients, my co-workers (about my hearing). Others, they just forget. Overall, people are good about it.”

This is where Joanne realized how education and communication play a big part in a health care setting, and help manage tensions when the issue of workplace bullying comes up.

“Sometimes, I think some nurses or doctors are stressed out on the job so they tend to speak like they are impatient and annoyed. When you understand that, you realize it’s not at all bullying,” she said. She underscored the importance of speaking up in in an assertive yet respectful manner.

“The biggest problem,” she explained further, is that nurses are not all connected with each other. “A nurse in a Connecticut hospital is not connected with a nurse in Colorado, for example. This was apparent in the Miss America incident. We need to help one another build a strong community of nurses. We need to find our voice, and this voice could be stronger.”

Joanne will appear in the October 23 episode of MAKILALA TV on the issue of nurses bullying to air in Manhattan Neighborhood Network. She will be joined in the panel by RN and educator Laura Garcia, a clinician at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Joanne’s Candy Land wall of all her patients’ names: Proud of her relationship with her patients.

Joanne’s Candy Land wall of all her patients’ names: Proud of her relationship with her patients.

red line

Leave a Reply