Switching specialties - going from proficient practitioner to beginner again?

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    I left my job on an inpatient psych unit in a community hospital to teach high schoolers and then I took time off due to personal reasons. I worked as a psych RN from July 2009 to January 2012.

    I just started back to work in May and I feel like I'm starting all over as a new grad with nothing! I do have my psych background and I'm good at setting rapport with residents, but I'm super slow at passing meds to 16 residents (I was used to 4-6, maybe 8 patients on psych) and my skills are really rusty. I'm sure some of this is due to being out of nursing for over a year, but I can't help but wonder if anyone has gone from psych to anything else and realized "hey, I kinda did lose my skills!" I'm not complaining at all nor do I regret my time in psych, but it's just a little frustrating to feel like I worked for 2.5 years and was a proficient nurse and now I'm back to a beginner!

    So now I ask the general population, has anyone else transferred from a radically different specialty to another one and felt like a fish out of water? I've been on orientation for 5 weeks and while I'm way better than I was when I started, this still feels foreign at times!
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    Yes, I did! I worked in a non-acute area (still bedside nursing, though) for a year, was the charge nurse, and was looked to for help/guidance from new people on the unit, was comfortable with my group, etc, like you mentioned. And, then left to work in a high acuity ICU without ever really starting more than maybe 2 IV's, never placing NGT's, no critical situations.

    I felt like a fish out of water, too. It's only natural. You're in a completely new nursing area that requires very different skills/prioritization. It will get better with time once you get to know your co-workers, and you feel comfortable. Expect to feel uncomfortable for a little while, though. Soon enough, you won't recognize your former uncomfortable self .


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