Want to return to work with new skill


  • Specializes in geriatric care. Has 1 years experience.

I was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic about 8 years ago. I am drawing SSDI. I currently completed my associates degree. I am trying to get into the RN program at my local community college. My question is will I be able to take NCLEX and become a RN. I have been stable for 4 years. I take my meds every day. I do not have any trouble functioning. Will I have to disclose my medical records to potential employers. I am also a man. I am enrolled in the CNA program as of right know. I just do not want to get my degree and not be able to work. I feel like that society does not accept anyone with a mental illness. I do draw 1954 from Social Security: however, I want to have a job that I will enjoy. I always wanted to be in the health care field. Are any of you have or will face the same issues as me?


2 Posts

My suggestion would be check with the nursing board and see if there is any policy on disclosure. Sending your medical records to a potential employer seems like a bit much. Mental Illness and Addiction both come with stigmas. I always tell myself what other people think is none of my business. Good Luck on your journey...


14,633 Posts

Your illness will not necessarily, automatically preclude you from licensure. However, you can expect to have to answer a lot of questions, and be asked to have your main psychiatric provider provide some kind of statement saying that you are safe to practice. (You will be asked something on your application for licensure about whether you have any history of mental illness or substance abuse/dependence. The question is worded differently in every state, but there is always some kind of question on that topic.) Nursing licensure is a big deal, and the BON's primary responsibility is to protect the public.

We get asked here a lot about what happens if you just don't disclose your history when asked by the BON, and then answer is that lying (whether through commission or omission) to the BON is a huge deal. If the BON finds out later that you withheld information they requested, and weren't fully honest with them when you applied for licensure, that by itself is often grounds to have your license revoked (in general, the BON finding out that someone lied to them goes much worse for the individual than being honest in the first place about whatever the problem was would have gone).

In terms of employment, you can be expect to be asked if there are any reasons why you wouldn't be able to perform the duties of the job. For equal opportunity law purposes, they often ask about a bunch of categories, including disabilities (including mental illness). Filling out that form is optional and voluntary.

Nursing school and nursing practice are v. stressful. Have you talked with your psychiatric provider(s) about your plans, and what they think of them, based on what they know of your situation?

Best wishes for your journey!

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,981 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

My story of dealing with mental illness in the workplace is not a happy one, so I won't go into detail. It's up to each person as to how to handle it when the subject comes up.....which it will. Either on your licensure application, or in some cases the workplace itself.

I'll be honest with you. The health professions are not kind to those of us with MI. (I have bipolar 1.) You'd think healthcare providers would be more understanding, but no---if anything, we as a group are just as judgmental, if not more so than other types of workers. It's sad that we have to hide a significant part of ourselves away like a dirty secret, because nursing is VERY stressful even under the best of circumstances and sometimes it brings the illness roaring back to life, even if we've been stable for years. Yet too often we are met with condemnation and discrimination when the truth comes out, as it usually does at some point.

The fact that you've been stable and have stayed on your meds for 4 years speaks well of your ability to cope and your acceptance of your illness. Your best bet is to call your state Board of Nursing and ask them (anonymously) if your diagnosis will preclude you from working in the field; my guess is the answer will be No, but you may have to go through a monitoring program that is actually designed for nurses with drug problems, but it's the only system they've got so it's one-size-fits-all. At the very least they will want a letter from your treating physician/psychiatrist attesting to your stability and treatment compliance.

I'm glad you're becoming a CNA before going to nursing school. It's hard and often dirty work, and it's just as stressful as nursing in its own way; if you can handle that, you can do anything! Best of luck to you in your endeavors.