Hello all!

Just wanted to post my situation and see if anyone has had a similar situation or any advice. I am struggling with the question “do I even pursue the pre-med track? is there hope?”.

I am 34, I worked as an RN for 8 years. I have bipolar type II disorder and generalized anxiety. I have been on medication since I was 14, my primary symptom is depression which is usually short lived and limited to a few hours and then I am able to lift myself out of it because I know myself very well and know my disorder inside and out. 5 years ago I went through a very painful divorce and I ended up with extreme financial difficulties and my depression got very bad. i lost my job and was also in a program in MN called Health Professionals Service Program(HPSP) it is a unique program for medical professions that have mental disorders or addictions. due to the loss of my job, I lost my insurance and I couldnt afford my medications or to continue therapy and psychiatry visits. I got another job at a nursing home but the insurance didn’t start for 3 months and with no meds my depression and the divorce I missed a lot of work and was replaced. That summer I start 5 different jobs at nursing homes and due to know medical insurance it was the same over and over. I finally got into a county program that provided my meds for me and got me back on my feet. I had to quit because HPSP reported me to the nursing board saying I was non-compliant with my meds, but it was not on purpose, I have always been religious about my medical care and taking medications and therapy etc, but I couldn’t afford my meds out of pocket with no insurance. It was a catch 22. Due to all this the nursing board suspended my license for 2 years. I never had a lawsuit or medical errors, so it was based on my mental health. As I get older, my illness is getting better and I am learning more skills to deal with it. I am only on 2 medications now at small doses and doing well, working 2 jobs as a PCA in group homes and am happy. I am very aggressive in taking care of my mental health. I have never had psychotic issues or severe mania, bipolar type II disorder has hypomania and depression. I am wanting to start school in Fall 2009, I was accepted into Hamline University in St.Paul, MN and I am so excited.I have an associate degree in nursing so I need a bachelors degree. It would be probably 5 years before applying to med school, will go part time the first year due to being out of school so long and adjusting with working two jobs and volunteering. Every therapist and psychiatrist that I have ever been seen by was so extremely supportive of my wanting to go to med school. I have wanted to go to medical school since I was 15. I went into nursing because I knew I wasn’t ready to attempt being a pre-med, too young and to naive at the time to do it. Here are my questions…Anyone else on here deal with a psychiatric disorder either chronically or acutely? I can ask for my license back in a year but I don’t know if I will pursue it or not. So, by the time I would apply to med school there would be 6 years since I had my nursing license taken…would medical schools ever find out about it? If I did excellent GPA-wise(did 2 years of liberal arts before nursing school and had 2.0 but in two years I pulled it up to a 3.4 at graduation), did well on the MCAT, and had ECs and LORs do you think I would have a chance? I mean I don’t intend to disclose to adcoms that I have bipolar, I know the stigma of my disorder extremely well, sadly enough. Okie! Enough of my middle of the night babbling…thank you so much for reading my story and I look forward to any advice…if you have thoughts and don’t want to post on here just PM me. Mehgan

Welcome to OPM . I can appreciate your fears of the stigma of mental health issues.

I’ll answer the question that I think I can answer, first: your illness should not keep you from med school or practicing medicine. In my experience, med schools are very supportive of students with all kinds of issues, including mental health. You have something of an advantage in that you are experienced with it and know yourself. You’d be surprised how many students aren’t diagnosed with Bipolar D/O, unipolar Depression, ADD, etc only after falling behind in school. Once you’re in, they’ll be fully supportive. And it seems that, academically, you’re in a good position to work towards getting in. You have decent grades so far (better than mine, after my initial undergrad) and working on a Bachelor’s will give you the chance to really prove your intelligence and mettle.

I don’t know how AdComs will handle the previous loss of your license, especially as you (perfectly reasonably) aren’t keen on sharing your personal history of challenges. I think that AdComs will (or should) find out about your nursing history, including your job and licensing history. I don’t think that would prevent you from getting into Med School, but it’s something you’ll have to address in some way, IMHO. They’ll want to be comfortable in knowing that you are capable and motivated. You want to make yourself a known factor and keep their perceived risk to a minimum.

I hope that others here with more understanding of how this will affect you can chime in with more info. In the meantime, see what you can find on the rest of the boards here. And good luck with work, school, and everything .

I just want to offer my support to you. Your story is very compelling and I wish you all the luck. I don’t want to sound trite, but I am sure your struggles make you a stronger, more self-aware, compassionate person-someone who would make an excellent physician. It is unjust mental illness is still stigmatized. I mean how many people do you meet everyday who you know could use meds and, since you are actually taking care of yourself by being treated, you are looked at as the odd one. Anyway, I can’t give advice about the ad com stuff, but I am rooting for you.

Thank you very much for your support and encouragement! I appreciate it so much, when the time comes to apply to med school(which is not for 5 years almost) I am sure I will have a plan. Thanks again!