Is med-surg a must? Not wanting to get pidgeon-holed..

  1. I was offered a job today at a psych facility...psych nursing is exactly what I want to do so im very excited to be in such a position. I'm a new grad by the way...I have a 2nd round interview this monday at an acute care/rehab hospital where it's more traditional med-surg-y type of stuff... if they offer me a job as well, would it be silly to decline since i believe psych is what i want to do? I'm pretty sure psych exp is only really transferrable to other psych facilities lol...
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   kakamegamama
    If you want to be a psych nurse, go for it. All I ever wanted was to be a neonatal/antepartum/postpartum nurse and went directly there out of school and never looked back. You'll have people tell you that you MUST have med surg to be a good nurse, but not necessarily so...you can learn skills elsewhere that are specific for your area. And, if psych is your focus, would you really be healthy/happy/do good in an area that you are not suited for? Best to you!
  4. by   crb613
    I guess that different with each person....for me it was the right thing to do. I learned so much, and would do it the same way again. I did not stay in MS, but what I learned has served me well.
  5. by   KelRN215
    I have never worked med-surg as a nurse. I have done inpatient pediatrics, school nursing, camp nursing (volunteer), international medical mission trips, home health and case management. I do not feel like I am missing anything from not having done the requisite 1-2 years of med surg. I knew I would be miserable doing that, so I went right to pediatrics.
  6. by   DoGoodThenGo
    Methinks the strong idea of sending all new grads into a year of med/surg was to learn the "basics" back when a nurse was a nurse is a nurse. That is one could be floated almost anywhere in a hospital covered by nursing service.

    Today with the profession broken down into so many specialities that usually nurse who has found his or her niche rarely leaves, it may not make as much sense. There is also the fact some places prefer to take new grads onto the floors or even units almost "blank" so to speak so they can be not only trained in how that place wants things done, but time isn't wasted stamping out or otherwise unlearning bad habits and so forth.

    I mean if one wants to work in peds or any area dealing with infants or children med surg experience may be great far certain skill building (time management, etc...) but so much else is vastly different.


    For the record it was often said that diploma grads never had to bother with the "one year of med surg" requirement and upon graduation were dispatched right to where ever. That probably had or has much to do with the extensive clinical exposure during nursing
  7. by   Anna Flaxis
    I don't think med-surg is a must, but I do think that having a couple of years of inpatient acute care experience of some sort is good for the resume. However, if psych nursing is what you're drawn to, and you have an offer on the table, it would be silly not to take the job!
  8. by   minnymi
    take the psych job. if it doesn't work out or you change your mind later....you can always get hired on a med/surg unit at that time. even though you won't be a "new nurse" they will train you just like they would a new nurse fresh out of school.

    then you will have the 1-2 years of experience for another specialty area if you end up needing it.
  9. by   RockinChick66
    Take the job. You're smart because you will most likely end up pigeon holed if u go to medsurg. I see many people stuck in medsurg. Good luck and follow your gut!
  10. by   tokmom
    Quote from RockinChick66
    Take the job. You're smart because you will most likely end up pigeon holed if u go to medsurg. I see many people stuck in medsurg. Good luck and follow your gut!
    If people are 'stuck' in med/surg, they obviously don't want to leave for various reasons, or they would.

    OP, if you have a desire to work psych and a job offer, go for it.
  11. by   EricaSAFJAF
    Quote from tokmom
    If people are 'stuck' in med/surg, they obviously don't want to leave for various reasons, or they would.

    OP, if you have a desire to work psych and a job offer, go for it.
    I think this depends on the facility and where you live...I know tons of people in med-surg who would love to get out but the market is just so competitive out there....
  12. by   AOx1
    Our field is now very specialized, and the advice that you must work med-surg first does not seem applicable now. I understand the context in which this advice was useful, but it doesn't seem to be today. Today, it makes as much sense as an aspiring neurosurgeon to first specialize in family practice. Although both need a similar educational foundation in the beginning, they need to branch off to learn specialties.

    I believe this is one of the issues causing problems in nursing education. We are increasingly specialized, and although we share common basic skills, each area of nursing is so different. These fora frequently have threads that comment on how new grads aren't prepared to "hit the floor running" right out of school, and yet we continue to prepare nurse generalists. I do wish there was a more formalized nursing residency program that could allow a nurse to feel more confident in his/her chosen specialty, but that is an entirely new thread.

    As an educator, I see many graduates who believe that they must first be in med-surg, although they hate the area and want to work in another specialty. They often quit nursing prematurely because they are unhappy in med-surg. I will say that having worked in a variety of specialties over the years, that med-surg nurses can prioritize competing demands with the best of nurses. They often have incredible time constraints and high patient to staff ratios. You see a wide variety of conditions in med-surg. Can working in med-surg improve your skills? Absolutely. I performed the most wide variety of skills in ER, med-surg, and ICU. What you might want to consider is whether the benefits would outweigh the fact that you enjoy psych. In your post, you said:

    -"I'm so excited..."
    -"Psych is what I want to do..."
    It seems as if you already know where your passion for nursing lies.

    Although you will encounter psych in every aspect of nursing and in every specialty, we need excellent, caring psych nurses. It is difficult, and one of the only specialties I've never tried. One of the things I love most about being an educator is seeing my students right before they graduate. I have known them for three or four years, watched them grow and learn. When they find an area they love, there is a sort of "settling in" or a "click" I can see. I know they are happy, and they just seem to excel in that area. I LOVE when my students find the area(s) of nursing that make their career meaningful and not just a job. I love to talk to them years later and know that they are happy. They often ask me this same question: "Do I have to work in area x for y years?" I tell them that they need to pursue what they love. If you ever feel you lack skills in a certain area, you can always work a per diem job in the area you feel you lack. The majority of time should be spent in an area you love. There is such a sense of satisfaction watching my students find that area, and to know they will have a long and productive career, instead of a "job" that they hate. I would wish for the same happiness for you.

    It was this way for me in my specialties. Do I hate my job some days? Absolutely. But the majority of the time, I wake up and think "I GET to go to work" and not "I have to go to work."
  13. by   That Guy
    It wouldnt be silly to turn it down. It would be down right stupid. If it is what you want to do, then do it!
  14. by   geminiRNC
    Take the psych job...I started out in psych and learned a lot of valuable experience that has carried over with me to NICU and L&D. You always utilize those "people" skills, crisis intervention (rampant no matter where you are), and a proactive approach. You will learn to always be looking five steps ahead-which is so important no matter where you work. On our psych unit, we pulled lab levels-so I was able to take IV courses. And of course you will become a master at IM injections We also had a great relationship with the ED and I floated there numerous times when our census was low. I learned a lot. Just take any extra's that you can. Don't let the naysayers psych you out (pun intended!) and let you believe that you aren't a "real" nurse. If you like it--do it.

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