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Negative Nancy?

NurCe-45 NurCe-45 (New) New

I recently talked with a longtime nurse about my past career path. I worked for a behavioral school as a teacher, where students came when they were not capable of functioning in a regular school environment due to emotional disorders. It was quite a traumatic experience in that we had to restrain students, often multiple times a day, in order to prevent them from hurting themselves or others. We maintained a school full of students that should likely have been hospitalized without the use of medicines, and only the use of our bodies as restraints.

On top of this, in the years prior to working there, I lost a brother (he was a drunk driver), was abused by a stepparent, had an 11-week premature baby, filed bankruptcy, got a divorce, and moved to a town where I knew no one.

All this to say, by the end of my 3rd year at the behavioral school, I had a mental collapse. Over the next two years I was in intensive therapy and finally got meds right. It’s been 6 years and although I can’t say I’m 100%, I can say my life has completely turned around and I’m a class away from applying to Cizik.

When I spoke to this former nurse about my nervous breakdown, and the fact that my areas of interest were ER, NICU, and psych, she told me I wouldn’t be able to handle it. She said, “Everyone wants to go into surgery, or ER or psych and no one ever stays bc it’s so hard and it’s so stressful...”

I am realistic and understand what is on TV medical dramas is not how things go down. But I do think with my life experiences comes a sense of understanding and empathy that will help in whatever area I choose to work.

Do you think her assessment is correct? Do you think that my “reaction to working in that behavior school tells <me> how well <I’ll> do in psych or ER?” Her direct words.

Edited by Rose_Queen
remove real name

Quote

Do you think her assessment is correct? Do you think that my “reaction to working in that behavior school tells <me> how well <I’ll> do in psych or ER?” Her direct words.

Really hard for us to determine this since we don't know you but man she sounds toxic. I will tell you, though, that many of us do not recommend choosing a specialty that hits close to home (in your case psych or NICU) because it can significantly impact your objectivity which can put you at risk for more emotional trauma or boundary issues. I guess you'll really never know unless you try.

Just in general, statements like this from other people are inherently colored by their own personalities, perceptions and life experiences--including their own subconscious life satisfaction or lack thereof.

(Keep in mind that the above is also true about people who feel fulfilled with their life experiences so will recommended their choices or their job to everybody.)

It is rare to find someone who knows the role and knows you well enough and is neutral-minded enough to offer a nuanced opinion or recommendation.

As to your direct question: Of course it's very possible that your past experiences could benefit you in nursing. I think it's probably fair to say though, that everyone's life experiences end up being some combo of benefit and challenge in the work they're trying to do. As long as you accept that and believe that you can handle the challenge part, you're good.

Good luck to you!

1 minute ago, Wuzzie said:

Really hard for us to determine this since we don't know you but man she sounds toxic. I will tell you, though, that many of us do not recommend choosing a specialty that hits close to home (in your case psych or NICU) because it can significantly impact your objectivity which can put you at risk for more emotional trauma or boundary issues. I guess you'll really never know unless you try.

That makes total sense - although NICU would be less close to home since it's been 18 years and really those nurses were just inspiring. We saw and experienced a lot in the 12 weeks we were there, but I don't feel the PTSD with that as I did with many of the other issues I experienced.

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Has 13 years experience. Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

The previous posters' advice were spot on.

I just want to add that it might be in your best interest, given everything you've disclosed here, to ask the moderators to change your username since it appears to be your full name plus you mentioned the name of the nursing school you are interested in.

Just now, JadedCPN said:

The previous posters' advice were spot on.

I just want to add that it might be in your best interest, given everything you've disclosed here, to ask the moderators to change your username since it appears to be your full name plus you mentioned the name of the nursing school you are interested in.

Oh my jeez - you're correct. Need to delete stat

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

Most people who make statements like this one are simply trying to carry on a conversation. It's the first thing that popped into their head while they were speaking to you, not necessarily a well thought out assessment that considers all relevant information.

That doesn't mean there's no truth to it, though. The "mental collapse" may be signifigant depending on what it entailed, how long ago it was, and everything that's happened between then and now. It's definitely something to explore, even with regard to licensing issues you may face.

You are wise to get your real name and picture off this site ...and any other site where you talk about such personal struggles or work/school in general. Turn yourself into a sour piece of fruit or a tree, like magic. 😉

34 minutes ago, JadedCPN said:

The previous posters' advice were spot on.

I just want to add that it might be in your best interest, given everything you've disclosed here, to ask the moderators to change your username since it appears to be your full name plus you mentioned the name of the nursing school you are interested in.

Is there no way for me to delete this post?

Posters can't delete their own posts unless you edit it to be a bunch of x's or periods or such. That is the quicker way while you wait for a moderator to delete the entire thread. No telling when that could occur as moderators aren't always on the site. You need to go to the site map and find the area to contact the admins to request the thread be removed. You can change your name on your own. Do a search and you can find the instructions, they've been mentioned many times.

"Support Desk" is an option under account which you can reach at the top right hand corner of your screen.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 15 years experience. Specializes in OR, education.

Moderator note: Posts that showed @NurCe-45's real name as quotes have been edited so that the name has been removed.

ruby_jane, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience. Specializes in ICU/community health/school nursing.

The advice I would listen to:

Boundaries are important. If you feel in your job that you're sliding maybe you need another job. Experience is important. Your first job - your goal is trying to safely transition into practice. Whatever job will support that is a good job.

But nobody gets to tell me I can't. I am the one to decide what iI can do.

I look longingly at the ER but there's no way I can make snap decisions in the time required. I do have great time management. My husband started in the ER and as a consequence does somewhat struggle with time management (because a lot of the ER time management is "what is worse and when is it about to crash.")

An ER in a rural area may well have a different pace than an ER in downtown Bigtownville.

You may not be able to land a job in NICU but L&D or pediatrics may work. We don't have a crystal ball to see what the market will be like when you graduate.

Bottom line: you're doing your due dilligence. Your life experience may well make you an excellent nurse. Best of luck.

7 hours ago, Sour Lemon said:

You are wise to get your real name and picture off this site ...and any other site where you talk about such personal struggles or work/school in general. Turn yourself into a sour piece of fruit or a tree, like magic.

So against my nature in the past, but I've really turned that around. Again, great advice.

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Peds ED.

I think you’re really the only person who can determine what works for you, and you might not truly know until you’re in the specialty itself if it’s going to work for you. I will say a ton of nurses come to nursing with histories of trauma.

I was having panic attacks before A&P because I was so anxious about my ability to succeed in school after struggling with my first degree so much. I’ve been in the ER my entire time as a nurse. I will say after having my kids, the ER was tougher emotionally for a while and I was glad to have a couple of years of just doing it per diem while my main job was on another unit. I have many coworkers who also struggle with anxiety, who have other mental illnesses, who have trauma in their background. I think it’s a matter of how you have cares for yourself and continue to care for yourself, and as others have said, cultivating good professional boundaries so that you can protect yourself from taking on too much secondary trauma.

As far as NICU goes, that depends on your experience there. I worked with a nurse who lost a preemie baby, and she did fine except the one year that she forgot to ask to be off on the anniversary day her baby died. She was able to go home that day after she got so upset cuz that's how we worked, but the rest of the time she was super nurse. There will always be things in nursing that affect you personally, (heck, my Dad had Alzheimer's and I can't stand to watch shows with characters who have that), it all depends on how well you can handle things.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Has 43 years experience. Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

Nancy was my MIL. She had MS diagnosed at age 26, had my husband at 29 against medical advice. She was partially blind and paralyzed on 1 side in her early 40's which resolved. At age 52, became an LPN and worked for 10 years on a Medical floor. Her life experiences helped her tremendously in helping stroke patients and those with MS adjust to a new life.

AN members have given you good advice. Please be aware that there is a surplus of nurses in some areas, especially Mid Atlantic Philly to Boston. So check to see what the job situation is in your area before plunging into school. Your insights would be valuable to help others. Best wishes on your journey.

DaniannaRN

Has 13 years experience. Specializes in Quality Control,Long Term Care, Psych, UM, CM.

I've never experienced mental health issues personally, but both my parents were very mentally ill. When I was a psych nurse, my experiences with my parents really helped me to understand my patients and what they are going through. I was able to understand their struggles and difficulties in the world. Some of them did remind me of my parents and it was a bit difficult for me, but knowing how to shut off after work really helps.

Obviously this is much different than your situation, but I just want to show you that your experiences may not affect you in your chosen area.

As a side note, please don't tell people you aren't really REALLY close to about your struggles. That nurse you discussed your past issues with may or may not have had your best interests in mind. This is a discussion between you and your family, friends and a therapist if you currently have one. Don't let an opinion of someone who really isn't important in your life carry so much weight. Only you and those closest to you know what you can and can't handle.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

I don’t think anyone but you can decide what is best or works best for you. I have been in the ER for a long time.....quite a few years and was always afraid to change specialities because it was what I felt competent at and even fairly skilled at. However, I have had some past traumatic experiences that have made it harder and harder to work in the ER. Not impossible but enough that I am relieved to have found a fulltime job that I am transferring to very soon. I think at a later time I may return to the ED on a PRN basis but not fulltime.

I have coworker nurse friends that have also had traumatic experiences of all sorts in their lives. Some were never able to return to the ER....some returned for a short time and then had to change specialities.....and a few were able to go back to the ER after some time away. As others have said, for many, this speciality does hit close to home in some ways. However, some can and do return or go to the speciality that they really want. You could always try it for 6 months and just see how you do. You may love it and find it rewarding (whether ER or NICU or psych) or you may decide it’s not for you. Either way - it’s OK to try things out. Plenty of nurses change specialities all the time to find their fit (and that’s without any past trauma).

12 minutes ago, DaniannaRN said:

I've never experienced mental health issues personally, but both my parents were very mentally ill. When I was a psych nurse, my experiences with my parents really helped me to understand my patients and what they are going through. I was able to understand their struggles and difficulties in the world. Some of them did remind me of my parents and it was a bit difficult for me, but knowing how to shut off after work really helps.

Obviously this is much different than your situation, but I just want to show you that your experiences may not affect you in your chosen area.

As a side note, please don't tell people you aren't really REALLY close to about your struggles. That nurse you discussed your past issues with may or may not have had your best interests in mind. This is a discussion between you and your family, friends and a therapist if you currently have one. Don't let an opinion of someone who really isn't important in your life carry so much weight. Only you and those closest to you know what you can and can't handle.

This this this. Thank you so much.

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in Peds ED.

18 minutes ago, DaniannaRN said:

As a side note, please don't tell people you aren't really REALLY close to about your struggles. That nurse you discussed your past issues with may or may not have had your best interests in mind. This is a discussion between you and your family, friends and a therapist if you currently have one. Don't let an opinion of someone who really isn't important in your life carry so much weight. Only you and those closest to you know what you can and can't handle.

I agree with the second half, that people who aren’t important in your life shouldn’t carry weight, but being open about mental health and past traumas helps destigmitize them and I greatly appreciate the growing culture of openness around mental health.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Has 7 years experience. Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown.

I agree that the decision is yours and to spend time thinking before making a decision. For me it helps to write down what is a "must" in a job, what is something you would like but not essential, and what is something you cannot tolerate. Also you can list pros and cons for each job/specialty. Of course you never really know until you try, but it is OK to try and decide it's not for you. Generally best to stay at least a year in a job unless it's truly detrimental to your health.

I have a mental illness, history of sexual assault, and my partner is black. I work in critical care and thought I would love psych because I could relate more to the patients. Turns out for me that was a minus, not a plus. The hospital set up 2 weeks of cross training and I only made it through 2 days! Seeing people with my diagnosis doing poorly, how sexual assault and history of abuse can cause lifelong mental illness, and seeing how every single black male pt with schizophrenia/bipolar had been in jail basically for being mentally ill was too much for me. I admire psych nurses so much. I'm not sure how it would go for you though, maybe your experience will help you understand pts and relate to them, make them feel not alone. And sounds like you could support parents in the NICU based on understanding their experience. Wishing you the best of luck!

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