I am an OR nurse, but lately I have been considering mental health nursing. In school I really enjoyed learning about mental health and my rotation, which was at a community hospital (not too acute). Mostly they dealt with depression and schizophrenic patients. I also spent a couple days in the Child/Adolescent Psych Dept. I truely enjoyed it and felt as if it was my calling. Some things prevented me from going straight away into Mental Health However.
1. Was having a hard time finding a med/surg job at that time (in Ontario), and when I called HR I was told they were saturated with new nurses and needed more experienced people to ORIENTATE these new grads. Hmmmm.
2. I was told I should get experience in an acute setting FIRST !! It would be better in the long run for my career, and some acute experience was necessary. I ended up taking a course in the OR and am now working in that unit.
3. I was afraid of violence and how to deal with it. I truly care for my patients and I did not like the idea of having to restrain them unnecessarily or to feel as if I was in danger. I have been told by so many people that they could see me being an excellent Mental Health Nurse because of my patience and genuine caring. I see people with mental health issues as I would see patients with any type of medical condition. I empathize with them and would like to be part of their recovery, and helping them to cope better. Yet, being about 5feet tall, and not too strong, I worry about my physical safety. This is one of my bigger concerns.
4. I have heard that most Psych nurses have their own issues. I know thats a broad generalization, and I only heard it from two people but it concerned me. I was wondering what the long term effects of working in Mental Health Areas were. Does it change you, do you start feeling depressed or as if you are going crazy. One former Psych nurse told me she switched to OB because she got worried when the patients started making sense to her :uhoh21:.
Regardless of all these reasons Mental Health, especially in the Child/Adolesc. units have been in the back of my mind. I recently picked up a newer edition of my psych book (left my old one in Ontario ) and for the past week I have been reading it like I read novels. For years I wasnt' interested in reading because I felt so overwhelmed by the school workload and other stressors, yet I'm once again FASCINATED with psych. I am so tempted to start applying for casual or part time positions in psych, but I wanted to get some opinions from others who have worked in psych.
If psych does turn out to be as exciting for me as I think it might, I will follow my passion and eventaully work in child/adolesc. psych. What type of experience do I need, how do I get a job in this area, can I apply now with a years working experience (in the OR)?
I would like to persue a masters in psych nursing or counselling eventually. When I was younger I did want to get into psychology, counseling etc, but ended up doing nursing. Is pysch nursing a good alternative ?
Please share your experiences with me thank you so much.
Mar 19, '07
I've worked in different residential treatment centers dealing specifically with children and adolescents. You may not like having to restrain the patients, but what you have to consider is why you would be restraining them. You stated that you didn't like the idea of restraining them unnecessarily. In my experiences, restraints were used as a last resort. But, if it got to the point that restraints were going to be used, it was because the patient was a safety risk to self and/or others. When the patients get to that point, they have (generally) lost control and cannot get it back themselves.
As far as your personal safety, most places that you would work at would train you in how to keep yourself safe. I'm not for sure with hospitals with psych units, but for independent places, they do. But you have to be realistic. There are certain risks when you decide to work in places like this. There is going to be uncontrolled anger and emotions and it very well may turn on you. But think about the rest of nursing. Aren't there huge safety risks anyways? You never know who's going to be walking into your facility, or furthermore (since you're in OR and deal with blood) what that person could be carrying with them as far as diseases. You just have to pick and choose your battles.
Personally, I had good and bad experiences. I had my share of injuries from wrestling and tumbling with residents to the ground, but some days were extra rewarding. I love psych and mental health (so much that I went and worked at a prison...eeks!) You just have to mentally prepare yourself.
You can probably get a job in psych right now. The best advice I can give you, which was given to me by one of my Directors, is that to work in the mental health field, you need to be able to separate yourself from work. When you go home, work stays at work. Learn to disassociate yourself. That's where the idea of "issues" comes in. If you can't separate work and personal life and you find yourself thinking about your patients all the time... you might want to consider changing fields. It can become very overwhelming and especially with mental health, you have patients that are going to be manipulative and trying their hardest to get whatever you won't give them. And that part is hard to get your mind away from.
So if you want to try it, I would say go ahead and try it.
Last edit by nursiekins on Mar 19, '07
: Reason: accidently hit "post quick reply" before I was done typing