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NP with Bipolar: Can I Do This?

I am thinking about returning to school to pursue an advanced nursing degree. I'm currently knocking out pre-reqs and have applied to volunteer at a local hospital.

The issue is that I have bipolar disorder, and sleep deprivation is a major trigger for me. I'm trying to figure out if this is something I can realistically and heathfully do. My pdoc is not optimistic.

My current plan is to apply to nursing school in the fall. I would graduate with a BSN in 3 years. After the BSN, I would like to work part-time as an RN while I study for the MSN (likely 2-3 more years). My goal is to work part-time as a nurse practitioner (not sure on speciality, but have an interest in women's and mental health).

I understand that most new grad nurses work nights at first, usually 3 12-hour shifts/week. I also understand that many NPs that work in the hospital setting work some grueling hours. I don't think I'd handle that well.

My question is whether I can attend nursing school, complete clinicals, and work PT without compromising my mental health? Do you think I can stick to days and less demanding outpatient settings? I think that my pdoc is projecting her med school experience onto nursing school in telling me that this will be too demanding/require prolongued sleep deprivation. I also know that some people work and go to school FT, sacrificing sleep in the process. My question is: if I make sleep a priority, is this realistic?

Thanks so much for any advice.

pixierose, BSN, RN

Specializes in ED, psych. Has 3 years experience.

I think, with a good support system and with appropriate management in place to maintain yourself ... you can do it!

I have bipolar disorder, and just graduated with my BSN. My advice: *take it one step at a time.* Focus on getting into nursing school. Then complete your BSN. Once you graduate, take the next step and get a job. Work for a little while, THEN apply for a graduate degree program.

Sleep is definitely something to consider. It's a trigger for me as well (I get anxious, can't sleep, vicious cycle emerges = mania and/or depression). So, I personally take a medication to sleep at night. I make sure I get my exercise, eat right, and also make sure I get outside (nature always is a happy experience *for me*). In other words, I definitely make sure I get my "me time." I need to take care of myself first. Whatever your "me time" is, and whatever you found that works for you, don't give it up. I am also very lucky; my potential job opportunities are days/evenings. I'm doing this on purpose. However, it may be something you can't avoid.

However, that's 3 years from now for you. You're a different person than you were 3 years ago, I'm sure, so whatever may trigger you now may be very well controlled by then. Focusing on one step at a time can help you.

As for your doctor, don't let her experiences interfere with your own. However, look deep inside yourself: what makes her say that? If you truly believe it's her displacing her own experiences, find a new psychiatrist. This actually happened to me; my psych was doing the same thing (however, she also referred me to a shaman as well :no: . She thought maybe my manic episodes was me being "super sensitive to the beyond," but that's a different story entirely!)

My new(er) psych lady is awesome, and incredibly supportive.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Edited by pixierose

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Moved to prenursing forum


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