I REALLY need some advice. Panic/Anxiety Disorder

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    I really need some advice. I am a LPN student at a small private college that has a newer Nursing Program that Is accredited. I have completed 70 out of the 96 credits needed so far. I am a mother of four children under the age of ten and have managed to stay on the Dean’s list every quarter.

    This is what happened: During a clinical experience at an acute care rehab facility another student and I was assigned to a rather impersonal nurse for the day, they were short staffed and the stress levels were high. I was assigned to do as much of the cares as possible (under supervision of course) for two patients. One was extremely angry that his meds were late etc…, okay so it took a while but I calmned him down and finally managed to get out of his room. I get back to the med cart and my nurse was very upset with me that it took me so long. She informed me I was LATE on getting my next patient’s meds ready. (Um, every patient’s meds were late that morning!) So I tried to remain calm, and carefully go through the meds, doing my 3 checks etc… to about 12 different medications. One was Marinol that I had never heard of and couldn’t find. The nurse informed me “it’s in the fridge”, so I asked where the fridge was and she handed me the keys to the med closet. I asked her which key, as I examined the key ring with 20 keys on it, and she said “you’ll have to figure it out, I did”. Okay so I went in and found the fridge, realized I didn’t know if I was looking for a vial, syringe etc... I found the Marinol, got out and continued getting the meds ready all while the nurse and co-student were hovering over my shoulders unconsciously rushing me. Okay, so it was insulin time. I went to draw up the insulin and I drew up the WRONG amount, handed it to the nurse for her to double check and she looked at me and said, “If your instructor were here right now, you would be dismissed!”, my co-student nodded her head in agreeance and said, “Yeah, that’s a failed competency.” Wow! I couldn’t believe I had just done that AND they had just said that to me. I took in a deep breath and re-drew the insulin, handed it over and of course it was correct. (*Please keep in mind I had drawn up insulin at least 25 times before this and always had it correct and ALWAYS had it double checked for safety.) This was just a bad morning and a rushed one at that. At this point I started to lose control. A tear started to stream down my cheek and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold them back. I whispered to the nurse, “I need a few minutes, I need to walk away.” She said, “Okay, walk away.”

    **My history: I have suffered from extreme anxiety and panic attacks since 2003. However, things are 90% better than they were when I was first diagnosed. Especially since I started school, I had less time to focus on me and my symptoms because I was forced to study and pay attention to what was going on around me. School was/is good for me.

    I walked out to my van, sat down and literally lost it. I just started balling my eyes out; I stuck the keys in the ignition and drove away. I called my Dean of Nursing immediately as I was driving and told her what happened and that I was on my way to campus to talk to her. (What I did wrong: I did not stay on site, and find one of my instructors to talk to, I panicked and left.)

    So I get to school, and sit down with my Dean (keep in mind again this is a small campus and everyone knows everyone.) we went over what happened play by play and how my stress just took over and I lost it and made a poor judgment call by leaving. She had said, “It would speak volumes if you went back there, however, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t.” After I told her I didn’t think it would be a good idea in the mindset I was in, she said, “Go home, get some rays and open your books, just try to relax.” We went over what I did wrong, and what I could have done differently. I went home with instructions to call a specific instructor of mine who was on site and explain to her what happened.

    I left and went home, called my Mom and husband and friend, balled my eyes out. Then I called my professor and explained what happened that morning, what I did wrong and what I know I should’ve done differently. This was SO hard.

    The next morning I got a call from my Dean that I needed to come in for a meeting with her and another one of my instructors. I went in having no idea they were about to tell me they were failing me from clinical. Not the program, just the clinical. I asked why, you may be able to see why I was confused after everything seemed fine the day before. The answer I was given was because, “I did not follow through with what I was told to do.” After getting that clarified, I was told to call my instructor later and tell her in detail what happened, which I did do….as I was told. I said, “No, I am not satisfied with this...there has got to be a better reason than that, I have taken full accountability for my actions, I am an exceptional student with a perfect history….. NO-they were failing me from clinical. End of story. My Dean even went was far as to say the facility we were doing clinicals at was considering not inviting our school back for future clinical due to this incident. I was shocked! There was no scene caused, everything was under control, no one was hurt or even in any remote danger of being hurt and I am a STUDENT. The conversation was elevated to the point of my Dean screaming at me. WOW, I seriously thought I was having a nightmare. I said I was willing to go to the facility and apologize for any inconvenience I caused, and she said that would be a good idea.

    Okay so I sent an e-mail that weekend to my instructors, Dean and Director of Campus relations pleading my case. That Monday morning I called the clinical facility to speak with the nurse educator who handles all the clinical students and asked if there was a time I could meet with her that day and discuss what happened and how I was concerned that my school may not be invited back because of me. She asked me my name and said, “Funny, you’re not even on my radar.” WHAT!? So I went in and spoke with her professionally without getting into the drama and took accountability for my actions and what I should have done differently etc…. and I told her that the facility was a GREAT place for clinical and a wonderful learning experience for our students.

    Still at this point I was unsure exactly why I was failed. I met with all the bigwigs that week and I was told they were failing me because of “patient abandonment”. Seriously?! As a student working under another nurse and two Instructors….Patient abandonment? Okay, so I fought and fought and nothing. No second chance…sorry. Are they making an example out of me? Could this really be patient abandonment? What about my hx of anxiety/panic?

    I have documented everything thoroughly. Now instead of graduating in December I will graduate in June 2010. Nursing II is not offered again until January and then one more quarter after that. 6 more months of school, 6 more months of not working as a nurse, with a nurses pay.

    Can I file a grievance? If so what for? Tuition, seeing as I have to pay another 3,800.00 for this class even though in the classroom portion I had an A- at mid-terms… I really need help. I thought I could let this go, but I can’t. Every time I let it get to me it’s almost as if a part of me has died. I let down my family who helps support us and our four kids; I let down my husband, my kids. Is there anything I can do besides buck up and move on? ANY Positive or constructive help is greatly appreciated.

    Lost in the politics of Nursing School,
    A Great Future LPN
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  3. 4 Comments so far...

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    You abandoned your post. If you were a nurse you would have lost your license to practice as a nurse and been fired from your job. They could have expelled you but they didn't. There have been times I had to walk away and cry in the locker room over a patient or bad news from home but you can never leave your patient unless you have permission to do so by your supervisor. I know you thought you are a student, and it's not the same thing. You are learning the profession of nursing which means you have to adhere to the same policies a nurse does within reason. You have a penalty of 6 months, nursing will be waiting here for you if you still want it.
    I know you said you never made a mistake and gave insulin many times, it only takes that one mistake to kill or harm a patient. That is why the nurse was upset with you.
    myleena likes this.
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    Since the above poster has already addressed the abandonment of your patient I will not belabor the point. You know you did the wrong thing and you will never make that mistake again, I promise.

    I will address the medication mistake: I think your nurse preceptor, your instructor and your dean are wrong. People make mistakes.Are they saying that *they* never make mistakes? Because I refuse to believe that. One of the reasons we always double check insulin is because sometimes people make mistakes. Your preceptor caught the mistake and nobody died. She is out of line humiliating you in front of another student and *she* should also be disciplined. If this one mistake will cause this facility to drop your school from clinicals, then I would say this isn't just about you. There must have been a collection of student mistakes to prompt that comment. Or your Dean just lied to you to scare you.

    It doens't sound like you have any recourse here. The Dean has made her decision and that's the end of it. You made a mistake. It's not the end of the world. Maybe they want to make an example of you--not what I would have done. It would have been better if they had used your mistake as a teaching moment. You are a student. It is your instructor's job to oversee your actions, along with your preceptor. I'm sure they were upset, but you're a student.

    Don't ever walk out on a patient again. Ever. And know that you will make mistakes. You'll have to take your lumps, I'm afraid. But you can stop beating yourself up--everybody has made a med mistake at least once. It happens. (I once gave 10 times the written dose of digoxin to a 4-lb neonate. Everything turned out okay,but I was so upset the head nurse had to send me home. Now I double check just about every drug.)

    If your anxiety is getting out of control, it might be time for a tweaking of the meds(assuming you are on them.) I have panic disorder too and at times it really interferes with my life. ((hugs)) I know this is hard but you're going to live through it.
    Simba&NalasMom, gams77, and myleena like this.
  6. 1
    I am sorry that you have no recourse. You left. In real life, if you were licensed, they could and would take your license away--regardless of your history. This is about patient safety, and care, not about YOU.

    Lesson learned.
    myleena likes this.
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    A classmate of my mine was in a similiar situation and was terminated from the program. Not only did she abandon her patient for 4 hours, she openly defied her instructor when she said no you can not go to surgery with your relative, but she did it anyways. As for the panic disorder, I totally can relate, I have have suffered from panic attacks for the past 17 years. And no one understands how debilitating it is except someone else that has it. So I know how you feel. At least you have a chance to finish, consider yourself lucky that you will graduate late, if could be so much worse, you could have had to take the entire course over again. Hang in there


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