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Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

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Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby Lyra » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:01 am

Hello all,

I am new to the boards. I want to start off by saying that I am not "officially" diagnosed with having asperger's syndrome. It is just something that I feel could be a true possibility. I don't want to self diagnose, but at the same time I don't feel like I need a doctor to label me for what I have felt for so long.

I am currently a second semester nursing student (in hopes to become a psychiatric nurse!) On our last day of clinical we were required to meet with our lab instructor for a conference. I did pretty well with the conference - my ADPIES were excellent, I practiced safe technique in the hospital, etc. However, the one thing that she said to me is that I need to work with interacting with my peers (the other girls in my clinical group.) She said that I sort of just did my own thing and did not really interact with them. Yes, it's true. A part of the reason is that I simply cannot socially interact with them. While they discussed aspects of the course, they also talked about hair, clothes, other people, celebrities, etc. I wouldn't know how to chime in if I tried. I've asked group members questions when needed and I felt that I was friendly enough. I know how to interact with coworkers. I have a job and do just fine with communicating about work and what needs to be done. It's the extraneous chitchat that I can't and don't feel like I need to take part in in my clinical group.

My instructor even agreed that I did well with talking with the patients. Sometimes some of the skills we must learn in lab do not come easily to me. I've never worked in the health field before so it's all new to me. But, I attend almost every open lab in order to improve my skills.

I am at the point of contemplating whether I should label myself as having asperger's. While I don't personally feel that I need to be labeled, I worry that it will be my only saving grace - an explanation for why I act the way I do. I don't know whether it with help or harm me, in the eyes of an instructor. However, I am sure this issue will come up with my new instructor soon. Maybe I have some strange hope that they will think me courageous for pursuing such a field with the way I am. Or else, they might find it a handicap that will prevent me from succeeding in the program / field.

Do you think I can make it? What would you do in this situation? Should I try to justify myself? I really don't want to bring it up, unless the subject comes up. I can try to interact more with my classmates, but I don't expect any miracles to happen.
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby BlackMask » Thu Jan 13, 2011 2:02 am

If it is what you want to do, honestly, then do it. Don't accept any excuses from yourself or anyone else about why you can't.
We all wear masks, every day, every where. The difference is that I can't take mine off.
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby petrossa » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:45 am

To my mind you'd make a better nurse since you'll be more prone to be businesslike. Empathy and daily human suffering make for a bad combination. I for sure wouldn't label myself, it's almost instinctive for people to treat you different if you have the 'stigma' of a mental issue. Best kept a closely guarded secret on any job.
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby sunstone » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:09 am

Agree with the others. Yes, you can be anything you want and having AS might even be an advantage for the reasons Petrossa has said.
Petrossa wrote:

Imagine you have a blueprint for a sewage system. The blueprint is ok, but unfortunately it's for another city....
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby sinderella » Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:21 pm

Yes you can be a nurse and have Aspergers. I suspect I have Aspergers and my son has been diagnosed with it. And I been a nurse for over 20 years and for the most part I enjoy my work. I love helping other people. But there are aspects of Asperger’s that will effect your work as a nurse. This is how my Asperger’s has impacted my work as a nurse…
1. Short staffing: I find I had to constantly adjust my work routine to accommodate fluctuating pt loads. It is hard enough trying to decide what aspects of pt care you feel you can “safely” drop, but to have to make further cuts in pt care on a routine basis was maddening. Good thing I am an organized person and set things up ahead of time.
2. The constant interruptions because you don’t have enough staff to cover all the pt care responsibilities. I found these interruptions most annoying when I was trying to start I.V.s or starting blood transfusions. It is hard enough to change routines, let alone dealing with frequent interruptions that are deliberately caused by poor staffing patterns, and then having to pick up where you left off with some task. And Aspies often do not deal well with changes to begin with; especially ones that don‘t make sense!
3. Because of short staffing I found I was having to limit my face-to- face time with my patients and constantly apologizing for not being able to answer their call lights in a timely manner. Or worse yet feeling rushed with my pt conversations. Some pts are stoic and other’s are ‘people pleasers’ who do say anything because they do not want to impose on others. For them you have to take the extra time to allow them to feel at ease with you. I was not that great at intuiting or just picking up on when they had problems or questions. In this sense, the chronic short staffing did hindered my ability to give good pt care at times.
4. On the positive side I tended to remain focused on the pts and their needs. So a lot of the social nuances of friendships did not come into play. My conversations tend to be more structured or focused on a goal… meeting that pt’s needs and educating them. Contrary to what many think, I do have feelings and I can empathize with what my pt’s feels and what they are going through. This helps me be more pt and understanding, even more so than many of my normal colleagues seem to be.
5. Changes in procedures/ polices and new technologies were hard for me to accept and go along with; especially if I could see that the new way was really not an improvement, or was going to be problematic. My managers didn’t seem to appreciate my honest appraisals of the new methods and my suggestions for improvements. In health care, especially the insurance side, change is just a way of life. Every 4-6 months they were revamping the software for both utilization review and telephonic triage. Or they would reassign me to an new product or service that I had to learn. I found I do best in the home health setting. One client and one family to deal with at a time.
6. I am good at seeking out and remembering medical information, since medicine is one of my areas of interest. So I believe that your heightened interest in this topic will serve you well in your career too. This was a real asset to me as a telephonic triage nurse.
7. The social cliques and office politics. I often felt left out, and when I did finally join in, people often gave me weird looks and started avoiding me. Particularly if I started agreeing with their repeated complaints. News Flash: Just because you don’t have my social limitations, does not make your complaining more valid, or more pleasant to listen to… especially on daily basis! I now ignore these people & walk away.
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby bostonbruins77 » Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:24 pm

I am a nurse[LPN] and do very well at my job.Nursing is very routine work ,most of the socialization required is predictable and also very routine.Any job you may do will be difficult initially and it might seem overwhelming at first but once you get a routine down you may very well be outstanding .Like I said the socialization aspect of it is very routine ,you are faced with the same kind of situations all the time.

-- Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:26 pm --

The best thing I ever did was to choose nursing as my career.It really opened a lot of doors for me and while I am still pretty much a loner I have a great social network at work .
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby sinderella » Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:55 pm

That is a good point BostonBruins 77.
For the most part our social interactions with patients are predictable and routine. But I think it will also depend on which area of nursing you go into. Nursing school may be more difficult for someone with Aspergers too! Due to all the new learning you have to do- mixed with adapting to a new school routine and the many new social situations at the sametime. Kind of a double whammy. Triple if it takes you longer to pick up on new information and routines. All of which I realized after the fact, I had unfortunately experienced.
I imagine emergency medicine would be more difficult due to how quickly things happen (thinking out our feet can be a weakness.) Especially when dealing with people under extreme stress, who tend to react in less than predicatable ways. Doing UR work was very routine. Doing telephonic triage this was not so routine. I had unpredictable callers and situiations, and with taking about 35 calls a day, from differnt people everyday, I encountered more atypical situations than a floor nurse does.
Yes we had guidelines to follow and demographics to fill in, but when my employer tried to force the staff to follow a rigid step by step protocal for every call, all of us nurses ended up more than the usual number of angry callers. (My manager was not pleased when I informed her this would happen! Again we Aspies have a tendency to provide frank honest responses that do not always go over very well.)
If you go into nursing (or any number of other helping professions), you will need to be able to be flexible and adapt to the other persons needs as they arise. I always found this part easy to do, it was the procedure and policy changes, that I resisted. Adaptablity is an individual trait to seriously consider, as some Aspies do have difficulty in this area. Best of luck to all who are just starting on their life's careers! :D
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby bostonbruins77 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:15 am

sinderella wrote:That is a good point BostonBruins 77.


Yes,you are correct.I work in a nursing home and my job is very routine and I certainly had a hard time taking my nursing course[not sure how I survived it ].I did very well with the academic portion of the course but it took me a while to get the hang of things clinically.We didn't really get a chance to utilize the new skills enough to get proficient at them .It takes me longer than most to learn a new skill but once I get a routine down I really excell.Someone with my inherent personality might seem out of place in the nursing field but I play to my strengths .I relate to people very well in a one to one setting but am uncomfortable in group settings ,so I avoid them if I can.Often, my lack of social comfort is an advantage at my job.Instead of sitting around shooting the breeze with staff I am off doing work to avoid that kind of environment.I think many Aspies do have genuine personalities.I am very quiet at work ,I don't put on airs[I couldn't if I tried]and can often calm down a stressfull environment very quickly.
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby petrossa » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:08 am

Her response is right above you lazy sod. Truncate the quote a bit. Remember this is all stored in a database permanently, the more you fill it up with double text the slower it'll get. Also it fills out the pages making it hard to read the thread, causing people to load pages more often which in turn causes more serverload and also slows things down.

Since the site is wholly non-profit bandwidth is at a premium. It barely scrapes by as it is.
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Re: Can I be a nurse with Aspergers?

Postby bostonbruins77 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:45 pm

I thought this was a gentle Aspie board :D
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