Panic/Anxiety Attacks

  1. Hi everyone,
    -->warning: this is a LONG post!<--

    I don't post here much, but I was just wondering if anyone has gone through what I'm currently going through.

    I missed 4 clinical days (3 days on the hospital floor, 1 day of OR observation) due to severe anxiety attacks. I've had them for a few yrs now - they've been manageable, I see a dr about them; but they've never this bad.

    My instructors say it is now too late in the semester for anything to be done (translation: "you fail clinical"). So, thanks to my stupid panic attacks and inflexibility of the nursing administration at my school, not only do I get an F in clinical but it is also their policy that I will receive an F in theory, as well - even though my average is in the high 80's to low 90's. Due to F's in both clinical and theory (although I don't believe the F in theory is a "real F") It is the school's policy that I am dismissed and may not repeat the course (one year from now) for credit.

    I've written a letter to the dean (don't worry, I took out all the swears I had in there the first time I wrote it - haha). Seriously though, it's a professional sounding letter just stating my position and feeling that there was very little support for me or flexibility in how to make up my missed clinical days. Our instructors always said "We have to work with our patients due to their ever-changing conditions." Does that not apply to us as nursing students, as well???

    Bottom line - the chairwoman of the nsg program has said that maybe nursing isn't for me (even though I loved every minute of it - the care plans, endless reading, practicing skills in the lab). I'm wondering if I should believe her or just take this at face value and believe this happened for a reason and I wasn't meant to be in nursing. I can understand the chairwoman's viewpoint - god forbid I had a panic attack while caring for a patient!

    My plan now is to begin classes at another college (4 yr, not 2 yr) for my Bio degree. I have a ton of electives & core courses done, so I really don't have that much more to go actually, which is nice.

    Has anyone been in this situation where, due to the panic/anxiety attacks they were unable to pursue nursing?

    Thanks everyone & again, sorry for this tremendously long post. I had alot to get off my chest!

  2. Visit CherryPez15 profile page

    About CherryPez15

    Joined: May '01; Posts: 13
    Medical Transcriptionist at Psych Hospital/Nursing Student


  3. by   Mkue
    I haven't been in your situtation but I feel sad that you can't pursue a career in nursing.

    You mentioned that were were under a physicians care, I know there are prescription drugs on the market that can help with panic/anxiety attacks. I'm wondering if this could be a possibility for you.

    Good Luck with whatever you decide.

  4. by   NurseDennie
    Hi CherryPez -

    Nursing schools are notoriously inflexible. A classmate of mine missed class/clinicals under similar conditions such as yours (actually even more severe) and sued to be reinstated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    She got back in, but she really couldn't do it. So maybe you could give that a try, if you feel that the problems you had were transitory in nature.


  5. by   colleen10
    Hi there Cherry Pez,

    I don't know anything about Anxiety Attacks but I did want to respond to you and tell you please do not give up now when you have made it so far.

    I've never heard of a nursing program that was at all flexible in dealing with students missing clinicals. But until now I have not heard of one that wouldn't even let you attempt to continue your clinicals some other semester.

    If you look at other posters on this board you'll see a lot of students in the same predicament as you but they were given the opportunity to continue the program in another semester. Some of them have dropped out and gotten back in multiple times.

    Obviously you are one smart cookie if your average is in the 80's - 90's I don't know where this Nursing Chairwoman gets off telling you that nursing isn't for you.

    If you have enjoyed your classes and done well in them I don't know what other proof she needs! And I have heard of nurses working that have more debilitating issues than panic attacks, etc.

    I say find another Nursing Program. Maybe the 4 year school you are looking at offers a Nursing Program as well. Also, what exactly is your motivation for getting a degree in Biology? I'm just asking because I know a lot of people whoe have BS in Bio. and were never able to find jobs in the field. Most of them went back to school to get their RN's or other degree / certificates in the Health Field.

    Good Luck and don't let this set back keep you from pursuing your Nursing Degree.
  6. by   craff1
    Hi there,

    I didn't read others' replies before responding, so excuse me if I'm repeating, but I felt strongly about your post and so I am writing.

    First - your health (because without that you can't do anything about your nursing career, right). See a psychiatrist immediately. And if you don't hit it off w/ that one, switch!!! There are many new drugs on the market for anxiety that will eliminate your panick attacks and allow you to lead a normal life. There is no reason in the world that you will not be able to complete your schooling, and in fact, you will probably be a more sensitive nurse because of having grappled with your own illness. If you want to discuss psych meds etc mail me offline I'm not a doctor, but I'm a mental health consumer, so I've been around the block a few times myself in this area.

    2nd - you should look into protection of your rights by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers and schools run scared when you start talking an ADA lawsuit. Go online and do some research about this. Your condition qualifies you for protection under this law. Get your psychiatrist to cooperate by writing a letter for you documenting your condition. Since you've already disclosed to the dean, you have nothing to fear.

    3rd - realize you are not alone. Millions of people suffer from mental disorders such as chronic anxiety, depression, etc. Just consider yourself lucky in that you are seeking help (RIGHT???) and you will be relieved of these attacks with the aid of the right medication. If you were diabetic, you would need insulin . Your synapses don't fire correctly so you need a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Don't feel bad about taking psych meds. It is a legit medical condition that is treatable.

    4th - check into support groups in your area. It would probably really help you to be able to talk w/ some people who are experiencing the same thing.

    Hope this helps, please let me know if I can help otherwise. Good luck
  7. by   CherryPez15
    Hi Everyone -

    Thanks for your support and replies to my original post. I should have clarified a few things first off:

    1. Yes, I am taking meds & seeing a doc about the panic attacks. I've been seeing him for approx 2 yrs now.

    2. The Dean of the college left a message on my machine yesterday that she wanted to "reply" to my "note" (a 3 page letter) but wouldn't be in her office until Monday/Tuesday. Grrr!!!

    3. Someone (sorry I can't remember your screen name at the moment)asked what I could do w/ a degree in Biology - LOTS! I could still be involved in the medical/science field, just not a "hands on" approach (with patients, that is). I could also do research for drug companies, perhaps leading to a pharmacy degree. There are also many other options such as teaching, environmental bio, etc.

    4. As far as the disabilities act, I don't think I'd have a case, and this is my reasoning: Patient safety. I know I have panic attacks that can occur any time, whether I'm stressed or not, it's just one of those things. But godforbid I should have an attack while giving an injection/med or transferring a patient from bed to chair - there are so many things that could go wrong. I'm not giving up though, I'm interested in seeing what the Dean of the college has to say.

    Ok, I think that's it for now! Thanks again everyone for your support and comments - much appreciated

  8. by   Furball
    Sorry to hear of your troubles. Nursing school is heartless at times. A student in my class lost her dad very unexpectantly 2 weeks from graduation. Missed the last 2 clinicals....straight A student...guess what? Didn't graduate.:angryfire

    Wishing you the best
  9. by   fedupnurse
    Good luck with the school situation. I'd go to a different school. If the director of your current one doesn't like you and "has to" let you back in they will really be on your back. You have enough stress without that.
    Also, if you have been on meds for 2 years and are still having the panic attacks think about either a new doctor, new medication or both. Also consider the Attacking Anxiety program with Lucinda Bassett. It works.
  10. by   Agnus
    Please, look into the american disabilities act. It is very possible you are covered. They must make reasonable accomodation for you in school and on the job. You never know what those accomodations may be until you look into this. It just may work for you.
    Nursing takes on many forms. Once you have your degree you will beable to find a nich where your attacks will not be harming patients. Just look into this, it can't hurt.

Must Read Topics