Psychiatric History — Can I still become a nurse? | allnurses [rant]

My question is this. Is it even possible for me to become a nurse, and gain licensure after two psychiatric hospitalizations. My psychiatrist thinks I am doing quite well, I have spoken to lawyers, and the BON rep in my state both said I should be able to gain licensure if I earn it.

Allow me to rant about this (quoted from Reword it to “can I be a nurse if I am diabetic? I’ve been hospitalized for DKA several times.” Or “I spent 6 months in the hospital when I had breast cancer. Can I still be a nurse?”

This is the same thing. Why are we even talking about it? Why is it an issue?

If you do your job, it shouldn’t matter what MIGHT happen. I’ve seen nurses flip out completely who do not have a psych history, possibly because they needed treatment and didn’t seek it on account of fear of retribution. So this is a serious problem in this profession.

I’ve also worked with doctors who openly discussed previous addiction issues. They seem to get away with it. I’ve never heard a nurse admit to same, although statistics show I must surely work with a bunch of them who have those issues. Is there a double standard there too? Are doctors allowed to be depressed or anxious or bipolar?

Now, if you have a history of getting homicidal and violent, nursing is not the profession for you. But I’ve worked with nurses who even have shizophrenia and did fine. These things are conditions that people can work with, just like diabetes, heart disease, and everything else. I even worked with a narcoleptic nurse once. You’d think that might disqualify you, but our manager worked with her, and she was a fantastic nurse.

I can’t rant enough about this so I’ll try to shut it down…but just one more thing. I’m sorry to break it to people, but those nurses who call in with migraines all the time or are always late or always call in on the equivalent of their Friday mornings? There’s a good chance they’re dealing with psychiatric or substance abuse issues, and they will not get the help they need because they’re afraid. It has to stop.

Originally published at on April 27, 2016.