Working with PTSD Disorder

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    Since going to nursing school, I knew I wanted to be a NP, but I have a great deal of concerns related to my ability to do so. In nursing school, I was a good student and I often helped to tutor my classmates in topics they did not understand.

    I tried to work in a psych ED for 8 months, but it was a terrible fit for me and caused me a lot of stress. I felt alienated by my coworkers in the ED and the other new RN said similar things. I have been a nurse for 2 years now.

    My first nursing job was in a psych hospital where my coworkers and superiors often complimented me on my work. I currently work in a home health setting and find it to be a better fit, but I worry that things will not work out because this is my third job (I was not fired from any RN job, but left due to trying to move to a "better" position) in two years.

    I often feel as though I am missing an "X" factor that other nurses seem to have. I often feel as though I lack something, perhaps confidence or possibly experience. Additionally, when I was in the ED I found it to be especially difficult due to my PTSD from childhood trauma and when the stress level would get high I would "freeze".

    I am currently in treatment for PTSD and working in a lower stress environment has been helpful. I just wonder if the future and the career I envisioned for myself is at all possible. I have met other RNs with mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder and severe ADHD who have been successful in their careers with treatment. I would like to know your thoughts. Thank you.


    Dear Working With PTSD,

    I think you just need to find the right setting and continue treatment. Maybe you've found it in Home Health.

    You mention that you lack confidence. Competence brings confidence, and time brings competence. To develop competence, stay in one position/setting for a couple of years.

    It's good you are in treatment for PTSD. Find out if you are also suffering from anxiety, which is treatable. Anxiety causes you to have self doubt and over-worry. To combat impostor feelings, look at your accomplishments and recognize your own expertise. Here's a secret- no one is perfect and everyone has self-doubts. You are not alone.

    You would be surprised to know how many nurses have all kinds of challenging medical conditions, including bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety.

    Many nurses work successfully with many kinds of mental health disorders, and it's a matter of knowing yourself, managing your disorder, and identifying your limitations.


    Related posts: Read Confessions of an Introvert Can I Be a Nurse With BipolarDisorder? and Nurse With Asberger's for more insights.

    I recommend Donna Maheady's inspiring book "The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities".


    You may be on the brink of success and not even know it, with your insight and commitment to treatment. Once you are feeling well for a length of time, consider returning to school for your NP if that is still your goal. You can be the person who inspires others.


    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing
    Last edit by Nurse Beth on Jan 24
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,362; Likes: 4,059

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  3. by   Jewelsforme
    Dear working with ptsd -- Please do not give up. You are humble enough to admit your own challenges. Go forward and know the rest of us with challenges or disabilities keep going one foot at a time. Each one of us does the very best possible at all times possible. But no one is perfect. Big hugs to you and everyone who works but feels inferior to the "super nurse" image. We are all super nurses!

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