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Can I realistically become a Nurse with my disability?

by Guest1144459 Guest1144459 (Member) Pre-Student

Earlier this year I posted about having a mental health condition. I was just reviewed my medical records and I was actually admitted involuntarily to the mental health hospital 14 times. It has been my dream to become a Nurse since I was a small child. I really want to help patients rehabilitate or recover to the extent of optimal health.

I have since moved out of the assisted living facility. I haven't been admitted to the any of the psychiatric hospitals since January 6, 2019. I have been in recovery for a little over 20 months now. I have even taken Human Anatomy and Physiology which I passed with an A. I have also scored an A in Statistics, College Algebra, and English Composition. My current major in undergrad is Psychology and my GPA is now 3.557. I needed a better backup plan than communications.

I live in FL, USA. I believe the Nursing Board reviews the psychological history of their testing candidates. I asked one of their representatives who told me " We will have to wait and see until you graduate from Nursing School."

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Famous last words...get yourself all the way through nursing school, pay for all those classes, lab fees, student fees and so on, and then have the Board of Nursing tell you that they're putting you in a monitoring program for five years that's basically intended for nurses with substance abuse issues, diversion etc. For five years you will pee, observed, in a cup at your own expense (don't even take a sip of champagne at a wedding!) and pay upwards of $60 for the privilege. You will call in at 0400 or thereabouts every single morning---weekends too---to find out if you need to test. You will probably be railroaded into "rehab" and "therapy" which also costs $$ at a time when you're probably having trouble finding a job because of the monitoring. Oh, and there's the matter of being forced to attend AA meetings...

Admittedly, this is the worst-case scenario, but it happens sometimes so I wanted you to be aware of the possibility. However, the fact that you have to disclose your disability to the BON doesn't mean they need to know about all of the details. They can't force you to turn over your medical records, as they are protected health information. When it comes time to graduate, I would recommend that you get a letter from your psychiatrist attesting to your stability and compliance with your treatment program. They will probably ask for one anyway. 

That being said, it sounds like you're in a good place and ready to tackle this amazing adventure. I wish you the very best of luck. Viva

The situation is different for everybody, so I don't want to freak you out. All I can do is tell you how this has been for me and how I would have dealt with it if I had this whole thing to do again. 

I also have a psych history, as well as a criminal record. The BON (board of nursing) is incredibly nosey, like wants to violate HIPAA nosey, and when I started this journey, I was told the exact same thing as you which is "Hey, if you have a dream, go for it! Nobody can give you a definitive answer about licensing or career paths until you graduate and spend 30k for a BSN but it'll be worth it!" (I did an accelerated BSN program, already had a BA in psych). I can promise you, I struggled in nursing school more than basically any of my peers due to the psychological stress of it and my disabilities (BP1, PTSD, and a TBI are my primary). 

When I did graduate, it became clear that I would need to see a licensing attorney to try to mitigate the damage on my NCLEX-RN application. Granted, my situation is even more difficult in some ways than yours because of my criminal record, however I don't have nearly as extensive of an inpatient involuntary psych record as you. I think, for you, what it's going to come down to is whether your background check reveals your psych history (because some involuntary admissions do, depending on duration and whether a court order was involved etc). If your shows up on background checks, that's going to be MASSIVELY difficult to overcome if it's more than 1 or 2. 

What I do know is that this process has been hell. I've spent SO much money on this attorney and getting the several evaluations that she recommended, and it's taken over a year and I'm still trying to do the things I am being recommended JUST TO APPLY (much of it is because these people just have no real concern or urgency, they charge several hundred dollars out of pocket per session and will make you wait MONTHS to make a 2nd appointment etc). Meaning, I have not even applied yet! My state has a 2 year deadline to get licensed after graduating from nursing school otherwise you can't get licensed unless you go back to school *all over again*.

I'm now being told essentially one of two things, or both, is going to occur (or I guess the 3rd is that they could downright turn my application away from the jump). 1) I will be put on BON probation as soon as I get my RN license, which is a mark on my license that will NEVER go away and I will always have to report to employers that I was on BON probation which they will also see when they run my license check. AND/OR 2) I will be put in a monitoring program for a dual diagnosis that will last upwards of 3 years and cost 20-40k and require constant vigilance otherwise I will lose my license, it doesn't even matter if it's because I can't pay the fees anymore. 

Essentially, I'm up **** creek. Would I recommend this industry to anybody else with a severe psych or substance abuse history? NO. That's just the cold hard truth. I've learned the BON and most other nurses have no tolerance for it or care for their own. If I had it to do again, I would have picked another career field, regardless of HOW MUCH I wanted to do this, because nursing was what I thought was my heart and soul, a calling. 

On 9/17/2020 at 11:55 PM, AAANursingAmbiFrog said:

Earlier this year I posted about having a mental health condition.

I went back to read your post OP. As I said before, I think doing a background check on yourself is going to be crucial before making a decision – even seeking legal help to see if it can be sealed if it does show up. I know this is an especially difficult situation in FL, where I used to live and know about the Baker Act as well (https://www.bakeractlawyer.com/practice-areas/records/)

To have schizoaffective disorder and major depression are quite different, as I'm sure you know as a person obtaining a BA in psychology. I would really want to go back and view my own medical record to see what information they provided in my records to support or refute the schizoaffective diagnosis (mania, paranoia, delusions, etc, all of which separate it from depression). I personally would just find this information very important from a personal advocacy perspective. 

I am concerned about your level of insight at the time, as you shared that you either never or infrequently expressed suicidal ideation but your therapist kept Baker Acting you. Either something happened in that therapeutic space that led them to believe you were unsafe and you still struggle to see it, or this therapist was a quack who was Baker Act trigger happy and yet you continued (14 times) saying the same thing to them that led to the previous involuntary admissions. I'm the last one to try and make you feel bad for a lack of insight, because jeez, as a person with a history of ETOH abuse and bipolar disorder, I've certainly not displayed the best decision making! Just sharing my perspective. 

Come back and let is know how it goes when you get more information.  

Dear K. Everly,

I should have mentioned that it was not the case all the time that the therapists would Baker Act me. I have great insight into my condition let me break it down: 4 out of the 14 times I was clinically depressed. Another 3 out of the 14 times my family were dishonest (my mother even admitted to the police who wanted to charge her for it) and had me sent out of spite. It was their dishonesty versus my truth I clearly lost that battle. When a family and a patient has disagreement about what happened and the patient has history of whatever mental illness, they will believe the family (my nurse told me this). I am still taking medicine for it because I don't have evidence that against their claims. The other 7 times I was calling therapists that were not equipped to guide me through trauma. I take full responsibility for it because they were working hotlines. They were not always licensed therapists nor were they someone who should be seen on a fixed interval basis. They were just doing their jobs as I was describing inactive depression later I was informed if I say certain things they will become alarmed. It was 100% my fault for calling those places when their job was to aide people and 9/10 they call for immediate assistance. I have gone to see three other Psych Drs. and one other mental health professional who would not agree that I had schizoaffective even though I tried to explain to them because I'll be honest here I could lose my disability income. At this point I would not just reject a diagnosis as serious as this because I want to become a nurse. That would do more harm for me than good. It was hard for me to even get medication in the very beginning as my first psych eval- the hospital could not diagnose me although I shared so much with them. I was rejected from applying to disability my first round. Also, I was rejected from seeking outpatient treatment. It was very difficult for me to keep pushing through so that someone would finally treat me for mental health.

Thank you,


Edited by AAANursingAmbiFrog
Additional Info

On the surface, OP, it would seem that you have unrealistic expectations.  Perhaps it would be wiser to seek another avenue to express your desire to help people.  My nursing school had an instructor who, at one time, sat on the Board.  It is unfortunate that you can't find someone like this who could, off the record, give you a clear, truthful evaluation of your prospects.  It would be a shame to waste time, money, and hard work to have your hopes dashed at some point in the process.  Best wishes.

I think there is still hope for me to become a Nurse Recruiter but it would be difficult to become a Nurse. Can you tell me more about what your professor said? I am just trying to make a relation to that and this article.

Thank you so very much!

Edited by AAANursingAmbiFrog

To be honest, for some reason I had a hard time understanding what you were saying. Whether you do or don't have schizoaffective disorder etc. So in some ways I'm still pretty confused.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course (for me too!). NOW you know why you were admitted all of those times but continuing to call hotlines that reported you 7 times... that displays a great lack of insight. I have also used a couple hotlines myself and never been reported despite actually expressing suicidal ideation so I'm not entirely sure how your situation turned out the way it did 7 times, though at this point it's neither here nor there. 

I don't blame you for seeking help in those moments. In times of great distress it only makes sense to do so. But from the perspective of a BSN grad, I can tell you this field is cut throat and if you have ANY questions whatsoever about whether you are stable, or if you therapist does, I would say don't even waste your time on this field or another field that requires licensure. It takes one slip up while in the process for it to become a nightmare like it has for me. 

Edited by K. Everly

I'm going to stop responding to you because I feel as though you statement was bias. Not only that but very negative. Thank you for your time.

6 minutes ago, AAANursingAmbiFrog said:

I'm going to stop responding to you because I feel as though you statement was bias. Not only that but very negative. Thank you for your time.

I was genuinely trying to help you based on personal experience. If you only want to hear answers that suit your desired outcome, then this might not be the forum for you. I've given you some excellent advice (particularly regarding the background check related to the baker act situation), advice that I literally paid an attorney a lot of money to get. If you don't want to hear it because it feels negative or biased, I'm not sure what to tell you. Feel free not to respond. Hopefully somebody has some rainbows of hope to share with you. 

Undercat, BSN, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in Retired. Has 41 years experience.

On 10/12/2020 at 9:30 PM, Guest1144459 said:

I'm going to stop responding to you because I feel as though you statement was bias. Not only that but very negative. Thank you for your time.

KEverly wasn't being flippant or negative with you.  That's how YOU interpreted what I thought was good advice.  Nursing is a pretty dysfunctional experience for people who aren't prepared for the emotional roller coasts we ride every. single.day.  You do not have to be a nurse to be of service to others.  IMHO, it is not a profession for the emotionally fragile.

Nursing school is a emotional roller coaster and takes a lot of study time. The nursing courses are nothing like the general classes. I got A's and B's in all my classes and was barely passing nursing school when I dropped out. In the first semester that lasts about 2 months, you go through 6 chapters in fundamentals and 2 chapters in drug calculations every week along with learning lab which are clinical skills. If you have any mental issues, nursing will be incredibly hard for you.  My advice is go through a CNA (certified nurse's aide) class first and then decide if you want to become a nurse. Most nursing schools reject people who don't have their CNA certified so getting certified is your first goal. You can work at a nursing home/hospital to see if you really like it. 

Respiratory Technology and Radiologic technology program last only a year and start off with good pay. you could even do EMT slowly works your way up the ladder to a paramedicine. I also heard great things about  Medical Assisting which do some of the same stuff as nurses except they work in a doctors office.  

I wish you good luck in your future career.