Will I have to deal with bodily fluids in an MSN program?

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Feel free to join the conversation. Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A



I'm an international student and I found nursing programs that are direct entry MSN so your bachelor's degree can be any subject. I have Asperger's and severe OCD and I'd like to know if in your opinion students have to change diapers and clean up poo and vomit even in a direct entry MSN program? Please don't judge, I tried my best to overcome my OCD but it's impossible to wash my hair and wash myself the way OCD would force me after every single clinical/shift. But I still want to be a nurse so I thought I would just study longer. Also I'm most interested in psychiatry.

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,211 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Wants to be a Nurse,

I understand your concerns, and addressing them openly and honestly is essential.

Nursing programs, including direct entry MSN programs, include clinical rotations where students work directly with patients. While nursing practice can involve tasks like changing diapers, cleaning up bodily fluids, and assisting with personal care, the extent to which you may encounter these tasks can vary based on the clinical setting, specialty, and role.

For someone with severe OCD, certain aspects of nursing care could potentially pose challenges. It's commendable that you're dedicated to pursuing a nursing career despite these challenges.

However, it's also crucial to ensure that you can comfortably and effectively manage the profession's responsibilities without reserve. Patients deserve caregivers who help them maintain their dignity when they are not at their best.

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

Disclosure and Accommodations If you decide to pursue a nursing program, consider contacting the program's admissions or student services office to discuss your specific needs. They may be able to provide information on accommodations and the support available to students with disabilities.

Specializing in Psychiatry As you mentioned an interest in psychiatry, it's worth noting that psychiatric nursing may involve fewer direct personal care tasks than other specialties. However, it's essential to know that patient interactions in any nursing specialty may involve unexpected situations.

Therapy and Support Continue seeking treatment and Support to manage your OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy can be particularly helpful in managing OCD symptoms. Working with a mental health professional can provide strategies to cope with challenges you may face in clinical settings.

Open Communication When considering nursing programs, reach out to program coordinators or advisors to discuss your concerns. They may be able to provide insights into the clinical experiences required and how they align with your goals.

Remember that your well-being is a priority, and pursuing a career that respects your limitations while allowing you to contribute your skills and passion is important.

It's a personal decision, and I encourage you to gather as much information as possible from the nursing programs and mental health professionals to make an informed choice that aligns with your needs and aspirations.

Very best,

Nurse Beth


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