Bipolar-Should I ask for ADA accomodations?

  1. I have Bipolar I and work NOC. No problems there, I have adjusted well and am slepping during the day without problems. However, our shifts are very erratic. It's maybe one day on, two days off then two days on, two days off, three days on, one day off, one day on, four days off, two days on, etc. I seem to always be recovering from working or preparing for working. I'd also like to join a support group but never know when I'm working. I've asked my supervisor who makes the schedule what three days, any three days, she can pick them, I could work every week, so I can have the same schedule. She never got back to me and in report there was an announcement that there is "no set schedule and the needs of the department come first." I also asked specifically not to work on Sundays if at all possible, as it's my son's only day off and our family day. Guess what? I work almost every Sunday now. I love my unit (except management) and get along great with my co-workers. My unit is one of the lowest-stress in the hospital. My therapist has told me that I should ask for a set schedule; it would be very beneficial as far as my illness and getting more stable. I have had two manic episodes recently, assumedly due to stress. I am on intermitent FMLA for my bipolar, have been hospitalized twice in the past three years and desperately want to stay out of the hospital forever. Nobody knows of my diagnosis and I don't want them to know. I know I have rights under the ADA but am scared that if I ask for this and if management is forced to give it to me, they will undermine me and find a way to get rid of me. I know the way things are supposed to work and the way things can bite you in the butt. I also think that nobody wants to get in trouble with an ADA violation so I'm really torn. I'm a new nurse with little experience (8 months) and if I lose this job, I don't know if I can find another. I'm a strong nurse, am on a committee, have never had any type of disiplinary problems and recently got a merit raise. Thanks for any input.
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    About AZRN2112

    Joined: Dec '10; Posts: 4; Likes: 9
    from US
    Specialty: Med Surg Tele


  3. by   Anna Flaxis
    Did you know that there were no set schedules when you took the job?
  4. by   Orange Tree
    My first reaction is that you should not ask.....especially since you're doing well. As for feeling like you're always working or preparing for work, I feel the same way. I would looooove to have a set schedule of ANY three days a week- just like you. I also think that requesting Sunday off as a "family" day could hurt your chances of being taken seriously with a "medical" scheduling request. But, I'm not bi-polar and I honestly don't have any experience dealing with bi-polar people.
  5. by   tyvin
    You seriously made my laugh about the Sundays; almost everyone has kids and wants Sunday off but as a new nurse don't hold your breath. Most places do things based on seniority. As far as pulling the ADA card; it all depends on the management and how trustworthy you feel they are..

    If they are cool it would be different but anyplace that doesn't have set schedules doesn't sound like they have it together. I don't know if you can force a work schedule change with the ADA laws; I would talk to an attorney before doing that.

    I send you hopeful thoughts and a virtual hug. Nursing is stress in the beginning for many. One must pay their dues so to speak and it isn't always fair.
  6. by   mediatix8
    Yeah I don't think the ADA says you can't work Sundays and have to have a set schedule just because you have bipolar. I think this was just a SUGGESTION from your therapist.
  7. by   caliotter3
    You have found out what happens to many people who ask for accommodations. I was promised cooperation with my school schedule when I was hired. I got chastised by a new floor supervisor when I asked to have set days off to take an evening course. Nurse Lazy and Sleeps All Night got her pick of days off simply because she asked. Eventually I saw the wisdom in leaving that place of employment. I suggest you look for a different job where you can get what you believe you need. However, you would be better off to keep your medical problems to yourself.
  8. by   systoly
    In my area, the average age of nurses is late 30s. That means most have families and related commitments and obligations. Schedule requests are honored by seniority. It is rare that a junior nurse can make requests, let alone have them honored. If you resort to ADA, you will not only alienate management, but also coworkers (because someone has to fill the slot), which in turn will increase your stress level. Given your rather pleasant work environment, I do not recommend to leave this job at this time or use ADA.
  9. by   caroladybelle
    If you have bipolar and want a set schedule, and Sundays off, there are jobs out there that can permit that. Chances are they are harder on the body physically than NOC and possibly pay less. Did you try for an office job, or work in an OPD that accomodates that better?

    NO ONE with or without Bipolar, deals well with the schedule that you describe. I am sure that diabetics, people with high blood pressure or obesity could make a good case with their MDs for a "set schedule" in maintaining their health. But in reality, most change to another job that accomodates those issues. Which is what you may need to do. If you push the ADA "issue", first you will alienate your coworkers, because of what is seen as preferential treatment. Second, while your mental health issue is private, I pretty much guarantee someone, somewhere in hierachy will find a way to pin every issue in your career on your bipolar disorder, merit increase/committee work regardless.

    I do have to wonder why your scheduler can't get a better schedule together.
  10. by   MERCEDES674
    I would advise you not to leave until you have a new job that will atleast give you a set schedule. Do not share your medical problems, things always have a way of being spread throughout the hospital. I really wouldn't share anything that you wouldn't want everyone else to find out about. How about finding somewhere that rotates weekends?
  11. by   Simply Complicated
    Do you guys not rotate your weekends? Most places you work every other weekend, or every 3rd weekend.

    It's almost impossible to get set days, because that makes it very difficult to do the schedule. Also, if they do it for one, they have to do it for all.

    I think you would have a better chance of talking to your manager, and just asking that she schedule you 2 on, 2 off or something. They are usually more willing to do that, as it helps with continuity of care.

    If you have been out on intermittent FMLA, then they have to know you have some sort of conditon. If you sit and talk with her, explain that atleast some sort of consistency in your days being grouped together would help to cut back on your time out of work, maybe she will be willing to work with you.
  12. by   April, RN
    Quote from AZRN2112
    However, our shifts are very erratic. It's maybe one day on, two days off then two days on, two days off, three days on, one day off, one day on, four days off, two days on, etc. I seem to always be recovering from working or preparing for working. I'd also like to join a support group but never know when I'm working.
    AZRN2112, many people who work nights feel this way like they are always recovering or preparing for work. Maybe you need to look for a job that is straight day shift. As for the support group, it might be easier to find out what day the support group meets and then request that one day off each week. Most people would prefer or "need" a set schedule for one reason or another but most units can't support staffing that way.
  13. by   SummitRN
    I don't see why it would be so hard to have a fixed schedule...

    OP can't you trade some shifts?
  14. by   ckh23
    Your employer would only have to provide "reasonable accommodations" for the disability, but there are some circumstances when they do not even have to do that. I suggest you go to and get some more information on it.

    I don't think requesting to be off every Sunday to spend time with your family is protected under the ADA. However needing off certain days for a support group or treatment may be different.

    As other posters have mentioned you may need to find a job that has a schedule that is beneficial to you.