Psych nursing as a new grad?

  1. I am going to graduate in May and I got into nursing to be a psych nurse. Now I am trying to decide if it is the best option for me. I am worried that if I start in psych that I will be stuck there, or if I try to do something else later I will be completely lost. What do you think? Should I start med-surg first or will I be okay with just nursing school background if I decide to go back to medical again several years down the road. Has anybody gone to psych and then transitioned back to the acute setting? All advice welcome!
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   PANurseRN1
    My first job as an RN was as a psych nurse. I did it for 4y, then moved on to acute care. I won't lie...the transition was difficult, and if I could have a do-over, I might not do it the same. But the psych exp. has served me well in many other areas.
  4. by   Pompom
    I think if you start is psych you will have a difficult time hiring into another hospital position. Most psych nurses I talked to said they have no clinical skills, one couldn't even function at a flu clinic giving a simple IM injection.
  5. by   PANurseRN1
    As I pointed out, it can be done, but it is difficult. I went one day from dealing with psychotics to dealing with very sick peds. pts. I now work in ED and same day surgery.

    It is difficult, but not impossible. And believe it or not, psych pts. get sick or have chronic illnesses you have to deal with. The acuity may not be as high, but psych nurses certainly aren't incompetent at basic nursing. It just takes a lot of patience and determination to make the switch.
  6. by   SCRN1
    I've heard the same as Pompom. A hospital I used to work had a psych floor and occasionally, when they were desperate for nurses on other floors, they would pull one from psyche. Most said they hated that because they felt lost and unsafe to the patients because they had forgotten so much med/surg.
  7. by   PANurseRN1
    Again, I am posting my personal experience, not just what someone told me. Part of the problem is when a nurse stays in psych for many years before switching. Fortunately, I left after 4y, so i wasn't totally rusty with my skills.
  8. by   EarthChild1130
    The only reason I went to nursing school was because I want to be a psych nurse, and I went straight into psych from school, and worked the unit for 8 months before moving cross country, to a hospital with a psych unit but no openings...they hired me to work medical/oncology, and the transition has been scary but going well.

    Six months ago I would've said, 'No way, go straight into it!' But now, I would advise you to get at LEAST 6 months of med/surg...after all, your psych patients have medical illnesses too, and those med/surg skills will make you a more competent, well-rounded nurse...I feel equally competent on the psych ward or a medical unit, and I'm happy about it (although I can't WAIT for a job to open on the psych unit!! lol)

    Good luck in your decision, for in the end it's all about what you think is best for yourself and your career!
  9. by   RN2begin
    Quote from Pompom
    I think if you start is psych you will have a difficult time hiring into another hospital position. Most psych nurses I talked to said they have no clinical skills, one couldn't even function at a flu clinic giving a simple IM injection.
    I don't see how that could be possible since nearly all psych meds available via injection are IM...unless she worked a unit which never dealt with these meds...which also seems unlikely.

    I went into nursing school knowing I wanted to do psych and went to work right away in the field. You will never have difficulty finding work as a nurse...especially if you are a good one. Clinical skills can always be relearned but the assessment skills that you learn in psych will be with you forever, where ever you go.
  10. by   MiaKeaRN
    We just had a very similar conversation at clinicals with our instructor, and she said basically that if you go into psych nursing and later decide to go into another specialty it would be difficult....but that skills can be re-learned and for us not to shy away from applying for psych positions after graduation for fear that we could never be hired on another unit.

    Great topic!!
  11. by   Ginger45
    I think that it is fine if that is what you really want to do. I have done psych, and I have had to handle emergencies just like anywhere else. I happen to love it myself. I plan on returning to it while I am studying for my masters.

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