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Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 15:06 UK
First deaf male nurse not 'a pioneer'
Andrew Maxim
Andrew is the tenth deaf nursing graduate in the UK

A Rochdale man has played down his success of becoming the first deaf male nurse to enter the nursing register.

Andrew Maxim recently graduated with a Diploma in Mental Health Nursing from the University of Salford.

He becomes only the tenth deaf nursing graduate nationally, something that has given him "a fantastic feeling".

However, he says he's not "a pioneer as such" and is simply hoping to be "a good nurse", working to "a high standard".

It is only six years since the first deaf nurse graduated and before 1999, deaf students were not able to study nursing because of the lack of learning and teaching support within universities.

That being the case, it would be easy to see Andrew as a trailblazer, but he disagrees, saying he'd prefer to think "that my experience is a positive influence on other deaf people who want to do this."

Andrew has been completely deaf since the age of two, when he suffered from meningitis and lost his hearing, but didn't make British Sign Language (BSL) his first language until the age of 17, relying instead lip-reading, which has allowed him to use different ways of communicating.

Most of the lectures did provide interpreters and notetakers, but again, an interpreter can only sign for one person at a time!
Andrew Maxim

"Although I was brought up in a hearing environment, I did attend deaf schools and was surrounded by my peers who signed, so I did use BSL with them.

"However, at school, sign language was not encouraged and in classes we had to use phonic aids and communicate with speech, we also had to rely on our own lip reading skills to understand what was being said.

"My upbringing regarding language has enabled me to use both methods of communication - although I do prefer to use sign language."

Despite being able to lip-read, Andrew's studies were still tricky as he was the only deaf student in his class.

"It was difficult, as I could not communicate easily with other students on my course.

"Group work was particularly difficult as hearing people are used to over-talking each other and interrupting speech - that's normal for hearing people, but difficult when I was trying to lip read - or the topic could change and I would lose the conversation.

"Most of the lectures did provide interpreters and notetakers, that made things much clearer, but again, an interpreter can only sign for one person at a time!"

Thankfully, moving into the world of work as a mental health nurse working with deaf patients has meant that things have become easier, as he says that "staff are encouraged to sign and there are other deaf staff."

Adding: "In addition, interpreters are provided for meetings so I can access information like my hearing colleagues."




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