higher level education: Am I doing the right thing?

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    I have enrolled in an FNP program. I want to advance my career however, I have developed panic attacks and feelings of dread and doom. I would love to be an APRN but my anxiety is so extreme I am already wanting to drop my classes. I am a successful nurse of 25 years with med/surg, OR, PACU, ER, ICU, GI, conscious sedation, Pre and Post op and infusion nursing. I love being a leader and solving issues that other nurses can't. I love teaching and helping others. Because of my experience I would love to take nursing to a higher level but my fear is really affecting my life. Is this something I just have to work through or do I need to admit to myself that this is not meant to be? Any suggestions?
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  3. 2 Comments so far...

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    keq, do you know for sure that your panic attacks are related to your enrollment in an FNP program? You probably know that there is a whole list of medical conditions that can mimic panic attacks, from cardiac dysrhythmias to endocrine disorders to seizure disorders to respiratory issues. You have clearly had a successful 25 year nursing career learning a wide range of very challenging specialties, many of which sound potentially more stressful than an FNP program. If you are like most of us in nursing, you may not have thought to check out your physical health. Just a thought, as I'd hate to have you miss a great opportunity if this is something as simple as a thyroid problem. If you know for sure this isn't a physical problem, can you talk to an advanced practice nurse (or preferably a Family Nurse Practitioner) to talk over the training experience? That might help put your fears in perspective. I wish you well - you sound like you'd make a great FNP.

    Sue Salisbury Hawaii
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    Thank you Sue! I am in great physical health. I always have been. I am prone to panic attacks (since grade school) when undertaking overwhelming or stressful tasks. I had them also when I went through the BSN program and while learning all my specialty areas. However, I HAD to have my degree and nursing positions to make a living. Pursuing an FNP is something I want but don't have to have. I think this might be the key issue. I work with FNP's at a small critical access hospital. We work side by side stablizing and treating patients. (codes, trauma, strokes, etc) I find their job fascinating yet very scary. Call it a double edged sword because I feel their stress and am thankful I am not in their shoes but then I learn something new and once again I would to see how good of a job I could do as an APRN. Just wondering if I can work through the anxiety.


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