ADHD in Nursing school

  1. 0
    Should I tell my nursing school I have ADHD???
    I have been debating this issue for a while now. I am currently in nursing school and half way through med surg. I have ADHD and on medication. I am a good student and I always sit in front and what gets me through is recording the lecture and going over the power points. Over and Over. And, online practice quizzes/informational groups. I don't read the chapters that often, I just don't learn that way. I actually don't even have the book! I am not trying to be a rebel I just study my own way. I told this to my teacher who asked me how I studied for my tests when I met with her and she got furious! She said "do you want a nurse that just studies what they have to and not be well rounded" I said you wanted my honest opinion and I gave it.
    However nursing school is starting to get very hard and I barely passed the first half of med surg. Actually 40% of my class failed it and have to retake it. But not me. They are very strict on giving us only 2 hours to take our tests and finals and that is not enough time! I am always stressing over the time during tests and I never finish early. Our new school policy which just started is NOT being allowed to record our lectures because we "won't be able to record on the job" when we are talking to doctors etc. Which is bogus.

    So, finally my question: Should I tell my nursing professor I have ADHD?

    I don't want them to use this information against me. I just want to be able to have extra time taking the tests/finals and be able to record the lectures. I do not need any "help" during clinicals, I do very well in clinicals. I should also state that I made a "medication error" my 3rd day in clinicals. Well, my school stated that we are not allowed to give IV push, they only told us this once before; and it was a long time ago. So, at clincals the nurse I was working with didn't know either and together we drew up the medication and I pushed it. I told my clinical teacher after and she said that I will probably be suspended. Long story short, since I am a good student, they gave me another chance. I just had to write some papers and was on "probation" for the rest of the semester. That was last semester, and I don't want them to think that I can't handle nursing, or that I won't be a good nurse because I know I will be. Any suggestions? On how to approach this situation? Should I just not say anything? I could also contact my school's dept for disabled students and get set up for accommodations. I don't know if I need to go that far.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    I don't know whether you should pursue this issue with your professors.

    The problem that I see, is how are you going to be able to fulfill your duties as a nurse when you graduate, if you are already having trouble in school. If a pt codes or goes bad, no court or family member of that pt is going to excuse a delay in care because you have ADHD and need extra time.

    You will also find that most jobs in nursing require continual and rapid learning, involving reading books, pamphlets, etc. While nursing school may accomodate the "I can't learn from reading books" idea, few employers will. And chances are if you request "more time" to pass meds or a lower pt load, you will quickly find your employment prospects wanning, especially in a recession. It may not be "fair" but nursing requires a high learning curve and a lot of complicated work done quickly.

    While that may sound harsh, nursing school is mild compared real nursing with its' time crunch. While the laws protect those with disabilities, it also recognizes that while "reasonable" accomodations must be made, the determination of what constitutes "reasonable" varies, when it comes to jobs affecting public safety.

    I know of at least two gifted surgeons that now cannot perform surgery due to minor/moderate injury that affected some of their fine motor skills. One could say that they should be "accomodated" per disability laws. They retain their licenses as MDs but had to change their practice as they were no longer permitted to do the type of surgeries that they had done. The one that was senior and had worked had longterm connections shifted into a more supervisory role. The one that did not have that much experience, had serious problems in maintaining a practice.

    The not being able to record classes is perfectly valid - many places do not permit taping.

    The time to have properly addressed the disability would have been BEFORE you started nursing school. Doing so at this point may look like you are trying to gain an advantage. Yes, you may get extra time, but you find more than a bit of friction w/staff, classmates and hospital staff that may affect hiring decisions in the future, unfair though it might be.

    (one of my nursing instructors found out through classmates that I had IBD, and spent an entire semester trying to convince me that people with IBD could not "handle" the stress of being a nurse. Fair it wasn't)
    CeilingCat and Circejane like this.
  5. 0
    I second everything that the above poster said, and I wish you luck. My school offers two hours of free tutoring per class per student, plus a free weekly tutor-run study group if there is enough interest. Perhaps you could take part in something like that? If you let the tutor know that you want to go over things verbally, not just look them up in the book, and you come with specific questions, it might be very helpful.

    I realize that reading the textbooks is difficult, but there is FAR more information in many of these classes than can be covered in the actual lectures, and much more detail than is given on Powerpoints--you're going to have to figure out a way to get through the material. Could you perhaps record yourself reading the chapters, then listen to that instead of lecture? You can push "pause" and come back as often as you need to get through it all. The CDs that come with text can often be helpful (sometimes they aren't, depends on the book), and they frequently have short videos to explain concepts, with NCLEX-style questions for each chapter.

    I'm wondering--have you had Pathophysiology yet? Because our book had over 1200 pages, and we covered almost every chapter in it, although lecture time was only able to cover about half. The rest was up to us to study.

    As for the test times, that seems to be standard, and something you're going to have to work with. I'd be very surprised if they gave you more than two hours--that's a huge chunk of class time.

    Good luck to you!
  6. 0
    I am a former special ed teacher, and am now teaching health care while I wait to restart an RN program here is my $0.02.

    "I am a good student and I always sit in front and what gets me through is recording the lecture and going over the power points. Over and Over. And, online practice quizzes/informational groups. I don't read the chapters that often, I just don't learn that way. I actually don't even have the book! I am not trying to be a rebel I just study my own way." Your learning strategy sucks.

    You need the book and a reader to record the chapter for you. "I dont learn that way," is a bad "loose cannon" approach that could kill a patient. The medication error means the instructors are keeping an eye on you and you arent listening as well as you think you are if you couldnt remember that a student doesnt do IV pushes.There are specific reasons why the nursing program is set up the way it is and there things you need to learn so they become automatic. They are not going to bend over backwards just for you. No one is going to pass nursing school without hitting the books.


    Get to the learning center ASAP, and get into whatever help they can give you,Pronto! If you need get on ADHD meds to help regain your focus Get to it!!!
    Sitting in tests for 1/2 hour in a panic, trying to get your focus and running out of time at the end is not going to work as a long term strategy. The right time to tell the professors about your learning disabilities was the first day of class or before.

    Ideally you could have had a meeting with the nursing instructors and an accommodation advocate and mapped this all out in advance, with good support, and meds if you need them.

    Should you tell your instructors? They all ready know!!! Telling the instructor you dont have the book was not smart. Its hard not to blurt with ADHD!!!
    Consider salvaging your situation by getting out your High School IEP, or getting a proper diagnosis from a Psychologist, getting into the support center and fully disclosing your situation so they can get you real help, not just "I need more time" because you really need more.

    Good luck because you are off to a really bad start.
  7. 0
    The OP has double-posted this, one in the Disabilities forum and one in the General forum. Interesting how the two threads are getting very different replies.
  8. 1
    I would not go to your professors directly. Your school has a department to handle students that need accomodations, and you may qualify for more time on tests. I think that to say that because you need additional time on tests means that you will not be successful as a nurse is ridiculous. Not everyone is a good tester. That does not mean they will not be a good nurse. I am sure we have all seen the reverse also, the nurse who does very well on tests but is clueless in practice. I would rather the nurse who needs an extra hour to test but is clinically competant as MY nurse!

    Check with your school and don't get discouraged. Keep plugging away and realize that it is entirely different when you get into the real world of nursing! But, be ready for some bad mouthing by your fellow students and maybe even professors if you get these accomodations, not everyone will agree with it, as you can tell!
    acerbia likes this.
  9. 0
    Thanks Circejane. Yes I took Patho, I got a B. Which I was happy with. I actually just bought the book and started reading it. I am just going to have to suck it up and read it, no matter how long it takes! Thanks for your insight!
  10. 0
    Thanks O2BSN2B.
  11. 2
    I think all of the listed info is great. I have ADHD and went through nursing school without meds or any specific help from any dept. How much studying a night do you do? I had to make myself study (read the chapters, look over my notes) I would last about 1-1/2 hours then literally run up and down the halls in the dorm. Sit back down and make yourself study again. It would take me 5 hours to do 3 hours of effective studying. I got A's on my clinicals B's on tests and C's on papers. The school had a ban on tape recorders when I was in school as many of the teachers thought that you taping them was an interfierence in their copywrited material (?) Any way READ THE BOOKS and MAKE YOURSELF STUDY. It takes a lot of self discipline but if you want to be able to definitely be able to support yourself you have to do this. Make yourself lots of notes and stick to a schedule.

    The people at the disabilities center can help you with ideas. Use any free tutoring you can get your hands on. Do you have any friends that are a semester ahead of you? Talk to them. You can do it! I did.
    CrissieD and Circejane like this.
  12. 0
    I, too, have ADHD, along with some autistic (Asperger's Syndrome) tendencies. My school has accomodations for student with disabilities. We take our tests in the testing center and are given time-and-a-half in which to take the test. Talk to them, it just may work.

    BTW, I don't read my textbooks that often, only when I need to refer to something which needs further clarification. I mostly study my powerpoints and the notes I take underneath them, and I'm making solid Bs--even in Med Surg! You can do it! :-)

    ~~Elizabeth


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