explaining mental illness disability to RN board?

  1. 0
    I have had ADHD and bipolar probably all my life but was high functioning at work so I was not diagnosed/treated until I was ~ 40 y/o. My symptoms are stable.

    A little over ten years ago I had to stop working because I had PTSD as a battered woman. That relationship ended in tragedy which pretty much fried my mind for several years and I began receiving social security disability.

    My PTSD was the primary reason I could not work. My PTSD symptoms are now minimal and I would like to return to work part time. My psychiatrist agrees I am now competent to work.

    I have renewed my RN license and the board would like me to submit an explanation of why I was/am disabled.

    I am unsure how to balance my right to privacy of my personal life with the board's need to know. Has anybody ever had a similar situation? Does the Americans with disabilities act affect me with the board of nursing?

    I am completing a nurse refresher course with classroom and clinical hours since I have not worked for 10+ years.

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  2. 11 Comments...

  3. 2
    You can focus on the fact that your issues stemmed from what was done TO you- PTSD isn't a deal breaker (I have it, and have known a lot of nurses with it)... They're (BON) just wants to know you're safe. I had to write a similar letter ages ago, and it was sent, reviewed, and end of story Focus on how you can do your job, you're following MD and therapy requirements, and have been working on getting back to work- you can empathize with patients while remaining professional. Don't lie or minimize things - but focus on what you can do, and not how bad things got- unless it gives you more 'weight' as far as being an effective nurse JMHO

    Also look into the SSD back to work program, where you have a 9 month trial period, so if for some reason you find it's too much, you don't have to apply for benefits again- you're still in the system, AND receiving some benefits....
    Last edit by xtxrn on Aug 7, '11 : Reason: ADDITION
    Gold_SJ and mercurysmom like this.
  4. 2
    Additionally, consider having what you write reviewed by an attorney who
    has experience with disability issues before you send in your explanation.

    Good luck to you, happy to hear you are returning to work.
    Best wishes on finding a job you will enjoy !
    caliotter3 and Gold_SJ like this.
  5. 1
    Congratulations OMG! Returning to nursing after a ten-year hiatus would be difficult for just about anyone; returning after being out of the field that length of time AND returning after a situation like yours is downright amazing!

    While many people choose not to disclose a hidden or mental illness, I would be concerned that any prescription meds you're taking for your condition may show up on a random urine tox screen. Obviously you could provide evidence that the med is treating an illness, but having to "back-pedal" to explain your reasons for taking the med might be viewed in a negative light, as if you had something to hide. I agree with xtxrn; state the facts about your disability along with an explanation that it was secondary to an event that is very unlikely to happen again and has been successfully managed through meds and treatments. I'm not sure how detailed you *have* to be in this letter. Does anyone know ? I'm very curious myself!

    It sounds like the refresher course is quite thorough, offering both clinical and classroom components. I wish you a smooth transition and a fulfilling career. Your experience from both sides of the stethescope will be an asset, as it's been for so many of us in similar positions.

    Happy thoughts coming your way!

    mercurysmom
    xtxrn likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from OMGWhatIsThatSmell
    I have had ADHD and bipolar probably all my life but was high functioning at work so I was not diagnosed/treated until I was ~ 40 y/o. My symptoms are stable.

    A little over ten years ago I had to stop working because I had PTSD as a battered woman. That relationship ended in tragedy which pretty much fried my mind for several years and I began receiving social security disability.

    My PTSD was the primary reason I could not work. My PTSD symptoms are now minimal and I would like to return to work part time. My psychiatrist agrees I am now competent to work.

    I have renewed my RN license and the board would like me to submit an explanation of why I was/am disabled.

    I am unsure how to balance my right to privacy of my personal life with the board's need to know. Has anybody ever had a similar situation? Does the Americans with disabilities act affect me with the board of nursing?

    I am completing a nurse refresher course with classroom and clinical hours since I have not worked for 10+ years.

    You don't mention how the BON got wind that were disabled, or why. And unless your meds make you unsafe, it only is nobody's business, but the BON should have been the LAST to know any of your protected, personal health information. In fact, I doubt that a BON would grant a license to anyone who claims to be disabled, without an array of expensive, comprehensive testing, and a strictly limited role in the workplace being allowed, such as telephone addvising.
  7. 1
    Actually, I looked into the IPN program (FL, you don't say your state)- mental disability is also included in their mandatory program, which is a very good reason not to disclose anything you don't have to disclose. I know two psychiatrists that no longer take any insurance, cash only, since that is the only way to protect their patients' privacy. They both also encourage everybody to pay cash for prescriptions, to keep as much as possible out of the insurance data base, which means no privacy.
    morte likes this.
  8. 0
    I have often wondered about this since so many nurses take xanax, lexapro and ect. Could this be used in the future to screen for employment much like smoking is being used today? Its too late for me because I did not know any better and took paxil so there is a record of it on me.
  9. 0
    Another thing is any history of any psych med, even antidepressants, will probably preclude your obtaining an individual health policy in the future. Another reason anything like that ought to be kept off the record, and paid for in cash. Nice that people that seek to treat their condition are ostracized. And I wouldn't be suprised if BONs start excluding those with depression, anxiety, etc. and also wouldn't be suprised to see 'drug testing' for legal meds. Then they can put the whole country in IPN, on probation, monitoring, whatnot.
  10. 0
    Quote from gettingbsn2msn
    I have often wondered about this since so many nurses take xanax, lexapro and ect. Could this be used in the future to screen for employment much like smoking is being used today? Its too late for me because I did not know any better and took paxil so there is a record of it on me.
    I would think HIPAA would protect a lot of it. It depends on the ICD-9 (or 10) codes....some trigger the BON more than others.... in TX, the license renewal forms had major depression, bipolar, and something else on the questionnaire. At the time, I had been taking one of the SSRIs, and had to answer more or less to be safe (I don't recall what my dx was at the time). The BON was happy with a note from my doc saying I had been compliant with treatment and she saw now reasons why it would effect my ability to do my job. That was it. Good thing, too, since the meds I was on at the time for neurological issues were causing a lot of the problems- got those fixed, and my other sx went away
  11. 1
    Pretty simple answer. Don't tell them you're on disability and definitely don't tell them you have bipolar. You have the right to protect your privacy.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.


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