Would you change to psychiatric/Mental health Nursing ? - page 2

I am doing an assignment and trying to establish why some general nurses don't appear to wish to work in the the mental health area. If you fall into this category could you let me know your... Read More

  1. by   adrienurse
    Oops, I work on a locked Alzheimer's unit. I guess I do already work in Mental Health. I just did not enjoy working with the regular psychiatry population. Ever notice that this area of nursing draws the most, um, interesting people?
  2. by   Stargazer
    sjoe--thanks!
    Originally posted by sjoe
    Instead, to save money, they simply jam people with various kinds problems all together (as has been pointed out above), use the least expensive aides they can find to "manage" them, hamstring everyone with quite inappropriate restrictions and regulations, and have the goal of medicating people just enough so that their symptoms subside sufficiently so they can be discharged into a community that does not offer adequate support to maintain their mental status.
    This was another thing I forgot to mention. I remember being incredulous looking at the charting that was done on patients sometimes. Day after day, there might be only one entry, made by some sort of aide (don't know if they were CNAs or what) that said something like, "Pt presented no behavioral problems today."

    No notes about dress, affect, activities, treatment, reaction to meds, diet, interactions with staff or other pts--nothing. I interpreted this to mean, "This guy didn't make my job any harder today." Well, you know, yay for you and everything, but that doesn't tell me, as the oncoming nurse, or any of the attendings, anything helpful about this pt's progress at all. I thought it was inexcusably lazy and really contributed to my perception that these pts were being warehoused rather than actively treated.

    This was a VA hospital, by the way. I don't know enough to say if this would be typical for a psych hospital, or an aberration. I fervently hope it's the latter.
  3. by   Heidi
    I am a psych nurse and could not think of anything I would rather do. I feel that psych nursing is an art in the sense that mental illness is not something that can be readily seen or treated like a broken arm or other such medical conditions. I would like to strongly say that I am not and never will be a "glorified babysitter" as noted by BadBird (granted this is your opinion). Not only do we care for psychiatric needs but we also care those people who develop physical complications such as Neuroleptic mailgnant syndrome or seretonin shock syndrome. And many illnesses that the general population may have such as diabetes, which can be of cource exacerbated by clozapine and olanzapine.
    I do admire nurses who work in other areas. We are all different and have different skills to offer. Psych nurses are real nurses, quite often I hear that we are not - funny that. By the way I am actually a registered comprehensive nurse who could work anywhere, just chose psych. We dont have psych training only.
    I will stop burbling or you may think I am actually a psych patient.
  4. by   Teshiee
    I admire anyone that loves psych nursing. Just not my cup of tea. I will stick to neonates. And it is funny they say it about my area of nursing!!!!!!!
  5. by   mageean
    Each to their own!Having read some of the more "critical" views I wonder if experiences in the UK are vastly different. For example I am amazed at the concept of locked units for Alzheimers sufferers. These are people from a generation to whom we owe a great debt. As for choosing MH and speciallizing in Alzheimers/Dementia for 20yrs+. I enjoy it and hope I always will.This group of sufferers keep challenging the norms and perceptions of us all.
  6. by   deespoohbear
    No I could not do psych nursing. It takes a special person to be able to deal with that day from day. I get enough "psych" pts (and families!) on med-surg to satisfy any temporary longing for psych nursing. I had a gal last year on med-surg that for some reason just totally freaked out on me. I mean, she was seeing her dead grandparents and such. Screaming at the top of her lungs. Tried my patience to the upmost. Finally got her sedated with Valium but geesh was I tired at the end of the day. That was enough psych for me. One of my co-workers was considering taking the DON position in our hospital's psych unit until we had that incidence that day. Changed her mind quickly...
  7. by   CliveUK
    Wow-some of the attitudes on display here!



    No patience with people who 'won't help themselves'?? Hmm - I think having an illness that affects their thoughts, emotions and perceptions might just get in the way sometimes - I dunno, I'm just guessing here.

    These people are not 'wilfully' ill - they don't choose to be psychotic. It's as much their 'fault' as diabetes and hyperthyroidism are those people's 'fault'.

    Sheesh - it's a good job some of you didn't go into MH nursing!
    Last edit by CliveUK on Nov 4, '02
  8. by   adrienurse
    Mageean, the purpose of the locked unit for Alzheimer's patient is not to "Jail" them, but to keep them from wandering out onto the street. Then emphasis is on maximizing their strengths within a secure environment.
  9. by   Y2KRN
    I thought that I really wanted to do psych nursing, until I went to clinical and was scared of a patient and what they had said to me. I knew right then and there if I am scared I would never be able to gain their trust or be able to facilitate my patient's recovery. I loved all of the theory though, and my hat goes off to all of the wonderful psych nurses out there. I didn't belive that my psych clinical would ever end.
    I work in the ER now see plenty of psych patients and thank my lucky stars everyday that we have a mental health worker in the ER at all times! Whew!!!!

    YK2KRN
  10. by   jnette
    Originally posted by sjoe

    Instead, to save money, they simply jam people with various kinds problems all together (as has been pointed out above), use the least expensive aides they can find to "manage" them, hamstring everyone with quite inappropriate restrictions and regulations, and have the goal of medicating people just enough so that their symptoms subside sufficiently so they can be discharged into a community that does not offer adequate support to maintain their mental status.

    Other than that....
    Agree.

    On top of that, I have seen too many nurses fall into a "rut" and lose their sensitivity...their caring...and end up lumping all their patients together and seeing them all as some have mentioned above..drugseeking, noncompliant, pretenders, etc., etc. I can see how this could happen, but it is a shame that it does. Sometimes I think these nurses are as bad off as the patients! I have seen the nurse vs. patient become a real power/control issue......sad, but true. I would be afraid of becoming callous myself, and therefore would never choose this as a field I would consider.
    As well as all the "quick answers" mentioned above which do not serve the patient OR the community, OR the nursing staff.

    Nope... I'd be fighting with the higher ups and be canned in a week.
  11. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Originally posted by CliveUK
    No patience with people who 'won't help themselves'?? Hmm - I think having an illness that affects their thoughts, emotions and perceptions might just get in the way sometimes - I dunno, I'm just guessing here.

    These people are not 'wilfully' ill - they don't choose to be psychotic. It's as much their 'fault' as diabetes and hyperthyroidism are those people's 'fault'.

    Well said CliveUK!

    As for the original question asked, why some nurses don't do psych? I believe it's either the "logical" theory Stargazer brought up, lack of interest, or just plain fear (I throw into the "fear" category all of the people that are not educated as to the etiology of mental illness and still carry their own stigmas about it).

    All of the answers I've seen here so far I can see how they fit into either category.

    Heather
  12. by   maureeno
    I am a psych nurse. worked as a mental health worker before that. and began my interest as an 8 year old visiting my grandfather in VA hospitals. after 42 years of interest in the field and 30 years as a worker [22 as a nurse] I am ready to move to another field of nursing because of the over-reliance on drug tx. Mental health is about lots more than chemicals.
  13. by   sanakruz
    Right on Heidi!!!!!
    I would recommend psych nursing. You can really make a difference. I find it very rewarding. I have had people with schizoprenia say some of the most poetic and poignant things I have ever heard. I think some nurses dont like psych because of the high risk of assault. This is real. Never corner (even figuaratively) an acutely psychotic paranoid person- they will lash out. Still, theres a craft to it and it can be learned. And just because these folks are not physically ill for the most part does not mean its safe to stafff 12:1, another concern for the nursing community at large and something else to drive newbies away

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