Would you change to psychiatric/Mental health Nursing ?

  1. 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 reason.
    Your response is appreciated in advance.MHN
    Last edit by MHN on Nov 3, '02
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  2. 40 Comments

  3. by   mark_LD_RN
    i worked psych for 1 yr, i enjoyed it until they mixez alzhiemers patients in with the neuro behavioral pts. it got to hectic and hard to control. groups turned into a joke. I had to leave since i was starting to feel like a mental patient with impulse control disorder
  4. by   Tweety
    I think because I have so many physch issues myself! LOL. Actually in school my highest grades A+ was in physch nursing, and my highest scores on mock boards was physcho social nursing. But for some reason I have no interest whatsoever in phsych nursing. I think because it's so not exact. In nursing med surg, you patients get well and go home. In mental health it's not so easy.
  5. by   PRNnightnurse
    I agree with 3rdShiftGuy about the inexactness (is that a word?) of psych.

    I was not fond of psych in school and knew that I wouldn't want to work psych afterwards.

    I have a problem dealing with psych patients. In the rational portion of my brain, i know these people have an illness and for the most part their behaviors are due to the illness. But, I can't help wanting to say "Knock it off, Straighten up and fly right already!!"

    I know that is wrong, but just can't help it.

    I believe that every nurse has a field they are drawn to. And most nurses excel at a given field.

    To all the psych nurses who read this --- My hat is off to you! You are doing something that this nurse just can't do.

    Stay happy
    Jacki
  6. by   adrienurse
    I worked in inpatient psychiatry on a PRN basis diring my first year of nursing. I really thought that this was what I wanted to do, but I found it to be scary (very violent) and a dissapointment. I especially hated working with the kids. Just not my cup of tea, or maybe I was just too green.
  7. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    If for some reason, women's ability to conceive and bear children ceased, I would do psych. Dabbled in it a little when I worked at an inpatient drug & alcohol treatment center, and my mom does psych.... I find it to be a comfortable place.

    But that doesn't really help you at all as to why some nurses don't like it, does it?

    Heather
  8. by   kids
    NO.
    Hated psych rotation in school (done at a state psych hospital). I just wanted to slap them all and tell them to knock it off, take their meds and go be normal.

    Before finding my niche with Peds I worked with dementia/Alzheimers patients off and on for years and was "pretty" good at it but hated every minute of it also.

    I have a very hard time coping with people who have no concept of reality. I end up feeling frustrated and angry, needless to say I am not good for them.
  9. by   BadBird
    I have to agree with kids -r-fun, I have no patience for people that don't try to help themselves improve. To me it is just glorified babysitting. It seems that they use every excuse in the book not to be accountable for their own actions and some idiot physician saying it's ok.
  10. by   Stargazer
    I am the worst psych nurse in the world. Only semester of nursing school where I pulled straight "A"s without much studying, but the clinicals? Yeah, I sucked.

    I still think back to a student interview I did with a chronic schizophrenic patient (in a room with a loud black-and-white checkered floor that seemed designed to drive you insane!). When he started telling me about how the laser beams from outer space were controlling him, I remember thinking, "Oh, come on!! You cannot POSSIBLY believe that! Do you hear yourself?" I came out of that interview frustrated as hell and wanting to find the nearest wall and pound my head against it.

    My psych nursing instructor, who to this day is one of the coolest instructors I ever had, told me gently in my end-of-semester review that I "needed more practice" working with acutely psychotic pts. "You're too logical for them." She was fond of pointing out studies to us in class that showed a large percentage of nurses were "nurturers" and had "rescue fantasies" about their pts. During this review she pointed out that I seemed to want to "drag pts into good mental health through the sheer force of my logic" and that it just doesn't work like that. She was absolutely right.

    The other reason? While on this same rotation, one of the RNs mentoring me took a liking to me and started trying to recruit me to come work for the facility after graduation. I had already learned enough about myself as a nurse and as a person to realize that I would become incredibly frustrated working with any kind of chronic patient. I need to see that some progress is being made, that pts are improving, that I accomplished something, at the end of the day.

    With that in mind, I asked her, "Tell me something. Do any of these pts ever really get better?" To her credit, she thought about it for a minute, and then answered honestly, "With the exception of some of the depressives--no, not really."

    That was enough for me. My subsequent exposures to psych pts haven't done a thing to change my mind.

    Hope that helped!
  11. by   jude11142
    I loved my psych rotation while I was in school. I also scored high in most of my psych exams. Right now, I am working at a LTCF and part time as a pool nurse at other facilities. There aren't too many openings in my area where they hire LPN's in that field. I am back in school pursuing an RN and mainly for that reason(more opportunities). I especially found it interesting when I did VA rotation in the psych ward. Granted for some, it's not their cup of tea but that's one of the great things about nursing, there are so many areas one can work in. I hated our maternity rotation. That was one that I was looking forward to and thought that I would enjoy but didn't.

    Hopefully, when I finish school, I will get into psych nursing. In the meantime, I keep checking the paper for any openings(there are some that do hire LPN's). I'm not in a big hurry as I do enjoy geriatrics but find myself bored with passing meds/treatments and overburdened by the vast amt of paperwork(alot of it unimportant and/or duplicated).

    JUDE
  12. by   Nurse Ratched
    Psych nursing is very frustrating.

    First of all, three different groups of patients who have no business co-mingling are thrust together - addicts, CMI's, and the demented elderly simply by virtue of the fact that they all need a locked unit.

    (2) Pain versus addiction is a problem when dealing with patients who may be in genuine pain, or who may simply be "drug seeking" and it's impossible to tell the difference for certain, so you always worry if you're enabling an addict or allowing someone in pain to suffer.

    (3) Noncompliance for CMI's and addicts is HUGE and so you wind up seeing the frequent fliers again and again.

    (4) The risk for injury is much greater than in traditional units.

    (5) Borderlines - 'nuff said.

    A mental illness doesn't "fix" the way a physical illness does. Those of us who are lucky to have our sanity can't possibly understand what chronic mental illness is really like.

    It's extremely difficult to feel like you're ever making a difference.
  13. by   sjoe
    stargazer--I enjoyed your account.

    Having worked in MH for years before getting my BSN, the most frustrating thing for me is that many of these people could be helped, and not repeatedly hospitalized, BUT our healthcare system is usually not prepared to provide suitable environments and trained people to be of much use.

    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....
    Last edit by sjoe on Nov 3, '02
  14. by   kittyw
    I could handle twelves back-to-back-to-back in an ICU with a patient CTD easier than I could handle a psych patient. Maybe it's because we weren't allowed to do anything besides talk. I'm much more psy. related ... how do things work than emotional. When I did my psych rotations I'd come home exhausted and with a major headache. I'd rather just give them a shot than spend twelve hours talking to them!!

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