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Can my mental health disorder disqualify me from becoming a Nurse?

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I am 24 years old. I was recently accepted to Nursing school. I passed the TEAS exam with an overall score of 83 before ever taking Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, or Microbiology. I has been my dream to be a Nurse since I was 7 years old. I am a recent graduate of a Certified Nursing Assistant program at a local Nursing school. I have been hospitalized 13 times all involuntarily for depression. I was mainly admitted for saying I was depressed and not going to hurt myself. It didn't matter to my counselor what I said after I said that I was depressed. In Florida they take it so seriously and even over use the Baker Act. The Baker Act is a involuntary 72 hour hold in the mental hospital. I was diagnosed with many different things.

I was even sent to live in an Assisted Living Facility because it was either that or go to the state mental hospital for a long time. They did not specify for how long. I was lucky enough to have never been sent to the state mental hospital. My new Doctor told me I only had depression. I have not been in the mental hospital since January 6,2019. I want to earn a Bachelor in Nursing Science and maybe even a Master in Nursing Science and become a Nurse Practitioner. I have never been to juvenile, jail, or prison. I do not have any criminal charges against me. I am currently in university studying communication as a back up plan in case Nursing does not work out. I have a 3.723 in my undergrad Bachelor program.

Edited by AAANursingAmbiFrog

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VivaLasViejas has 20 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

8 Followers; 142 Articles; 9,777 Posts; 251,468 Profile Views

It sounds like you've been stable for awhile. Yes, you can be a nurse with a mental illness, as long as you can stay healthy and clear-headed. You have to be very self-aware, which is something you seem to have struggled with in the past as evidenced by repeated hospital stays. If you can't manage that, then you can't be a nurse with mental illness. It's not safe. That isn't to say you shouldn't go for it...just be prepared. Nursing school is notoriously difficult, and that first year after graduation sucks big time. But every nurse goes through it, and most of us not only survive, but thrive.

Wishing you the very best. Let us know how you're doing. Viva

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LovingPeds has 10 years experience as a MSN, APRN, NP and specializes in Pediatrics; Maternal-Child Nursing Education.

79 Posts; 467 Profile Views

You can be a nurse with a mental illness and previous involuntary admissions for mental illness. I was involuntarily hospitalized for 5 days for suicidal ideation in a mixed episode half-way through through my ADN when I was about your age. I took a year off school. Got myself together and stabilized. Returned to school. Wrote the board of nursing in my state prior to taking boards to disclose that information and received a letter stating they saw no reason that I could not take the NCLEX to be a nurse and encouraged me to keep up with my treatment team. 

It is not an easy path. As Viva said, it does take self-awareness. I had to take time off from my education again half-way through my master's due to the combined stress from work /school (both full-time) with a death in the family that I did not handle well. This was voluntary on my part. I recognized that I was not in a good place to provide patient care or to continue with my education at that time. My doctor agreed with me and I took FMLA for a several weeks and the school kindly refunded my semester. My job and my coworkers were very supportive. I went back to school when my class was offered again and graduated without further issue.

I say that to encourage you. It is possible. You just have to develop an awareness of your mental and emotional state. You don't have to disclose this information to everyone you know if you choose not to, but you do need to be honest with your BON. Once you're a nurse, if you're having issues, you need to be honest as well. You will not lose your license for struggles with mental health unless you compromise patient safety by taking care of patients when you are not mentally sound. Good luck!

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