Scared of the required psych nursing...

  1. Hey all,
    Hope everyone is doin' well. I haven't posted in such a long time it seems...but I read every post faithfully and they are all so helpful.

    I was wondering if anyone was also as worried (okay, freaked out) about the psych nursing as I am. Although it is a year away, I am already dreading it. The idea of it didn't faze me when I applied to the program, but...Last semester I had major drama with a classmate who I think was ill, and although everything turned out okay after the police intervened...ever since then I am scared and sometimes terrified to be around the mentally unstable. Like today in the store I waited in line 20 minutes to buy something but when it was my turn to check out I took off and left my groceries behind because the bagging clerk looked positively homicidal. I know it was too quick of a judgment to make, and I was ashamed. But honestly I think the problems I had with my classmate scarred me for life. (I posted the whole ordeal on this board under"threatened by a fellow student today" and received much support, thanks again to all of you.)

    Hubby is also not thrilled about me being at the "loony bin" for a while. He is very protective of me and for a good reason...I seem to attract trouble like this. I keep telling him it's only 8 weeks, and most likely we will be well-protected, but I'm putting up more bravado than I feel for his sake.

    I do not want this to keep me from nursing, so I need help and reassurance. If it is as bad as I think it will be, then maybe I should get out now before I start the program.

    ...or maybe, hypnosis and/or therapy to help me?? :stone

    I would love to hear your experiences, good and bad. Especially the bad. Because hopefully even the worst experiences will not seem so terrible to me after all and I can get over this handicap.

    God bless!
    S
    Last edit by FutureArmyNurse on Apr 23, '04
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   Nurse2bSandy
    I'm excited about psych! It's where I think I will probably choose to practice. I do my rotation this summer. I do have some experience, though. Our youngest has psych issues... when you see them as people, it's not so bad. I'm entertained!
    Last year we had to leave our son at a 'behavioral health' center (read: psych ward)... he was just 8 and it was very hard. But I did get to see what it was like. I'm fascinated... of course, I also volunteer at the prison, so maybe it's me that's crazy!
    Hey, there's too many normal people out there!
  4. by   purplekath
    >>I was wondering if anyone was also as worried (okay, freaked out) about >>the psych nursing as I am.

    I actually want to go into psych nursing as I find it fascinating an area where you can really make a difference. The difference between running into the mentally ill in "real life" and running into them on a psych ward is that on the ward, they KNOW what to expect, they are set up with meds and they are set up with security.

    Most people who are actually on the ward that you see will be "under control" -- they will be getting the appropriate meds and won't seem as weird as those you meet on the street.

    Although it can be unnerving talking to some of them...schizophrenics for example. My best rule of thumb is "never argue with a psychotic person"....you can't win! Just go with the flow and try to look at life through their eyes. When they seem to say and do crazy things, to THEM, it makes perfect sense! And if in doubt, don't be afraid to speak to their families when they visit - often you can get valuable insight to help them as they get through the worst bits of their illnesses.
  5. by   kahumai
    Well, I haven't had my psych rotation yet, and come to think of it, I'm not even sure we have to one :uhoh21: so unfortunately all I can say is this: don't let something like being afraid of one area make you steer clear of nursing altogether. You've come too far to turn back now. The school is not going to purposefully put you in harm's way, so try not to worry so much. Just try to get through the 8 weeks as best as you can, and when you graduate you'll never have to go back to that area if you don't want to.

    Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!
  6. by   Stitchie
    It's been a while since I was in psych, but I enjoyed the rotation. We had patients who weren't violent or anything, more like the OCD'ers or depressed, some personality disordered etc, but no one was violent in any way.

    I think I was more freaked out about OB because I'd many S-AB's and felt that it would be emotionally difficult, but I got thru that too.

    You'll be fine! Just let your instructor know about your fears and perhaps she'll be able to give you some good guidelines.
  7. by   maire
    I was in the very same position as you. Not looking forward to it. Scared. Not interested AT ALL. DREADED it.

    Next week is the last week of my psych rotation and I have to tell you I am going to miss it. I LOVED it. I am on a locked unit with about 25 patients, ranging from low-functioning schizophrenics to substance abusers who are there so they have a place to stay instead of being on the streets (they claim to be trying to kill themselves so they get committed). Seeing the various types of mental illnesses and how they affect people is AMAZING. You will really learn a lot if you open your mind to the subject, and start thinking of them as "people" rather than as "loonies." I quit referring to the place as the "nuthouse" after about the second week.

    Just watch your back but don't be afraid to interact with the patients. Some of them can be violent but those are the ones you learn about first!

    I hope you enjoy your rotation.
    Last edit by maire on Apr 23, '04
  8. by   nursebedlam
    Psych nursing is my passion, normal people scare me
  9. by   orrnlori
    I remember your posting on the guy in your class very well. I think you may suffer from mild PTSD (no I'm not a psych nurse), and I say that because you mentioned running from the store scared of the bagboy. This is a pretty intense reaction that clearly indicates you haven't quite gotten over your ordeal. You really did experience a pretty awful event during that time. Most of us go to school expecting to be safe. In your situation, you found that wasn't true. Therefore, you are concerned that you won't be safe in school again when you do the psych rotation. I think your apprehension is probably warranted, but in actuality, I think you'll be fine.

    I would really suggest you find a nursing instructor you trust and explain what happened to you last year and be honest in your feelings. I would expect the instructors to take measures based on what happened and be sensitive to you.

    I do think you might want to talk to a counsellor. Quit thinking you "attract" these kinds of people. You don't. You are just hyper-sensitive to it now that this event happened. Don't expect to love psych nursing. People with these kinds of problems are quite unsettling to many of us.

    I was a victim of a random crime and was hospitalized for several weeks from the physical trauma I recieved at the hands of a man I'd never met before. I know the fear you may be feeling. You aren't crazy to feel like you do. I think you need to investigate counselling. Don't throw away your nursing education because of this. Conquer it. Best wishes to you.
  10. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    Quote from FutureArmyNurse
    ...Last semester I had major drama with a classmate who I think was ill, and although everything turned out okay after the police intervened...ever since then I am scared and sometimes terrified to be around the mentally unstable. Like today in the store I waited in line 20 minutes to buy something but when it was my turn to check out I took off and left my groceries behind because the bagging clerk looked positively homicidal. I know it was too quick of a judgment to make, and I was ashamed. But honestly I think the problems I had with my classmate scarred me for life.
    Dear heart, you are describing classic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, a relatively easy-to-treat condition which is making you miserable and will continue to, unless you get some help. Counseling is most effective, especially since it sounds like your symptoms haven't pervaded every aspect of your life (at least, it sounds like it is confined to discrete events and locations).

    Lots of people tough it out and suffer through it, but what kind of life is that?

    Psych rotation is going to be a very safe, probably very quiet, possibly even boring experience. Student nurses are protected, and so will you be.

    But your trauma reaction is interfering with your day to day living, and you deserve better than that!

    Best,
    Chris
  11. by   Kudra
    there were only 2 rotations i dreaded: peds and psych... i hated peds and ended up loving my psych experience...

    the first day we were on the ward (36 patients + ED program), a few fellow students and i witnessed no less than 8 code whites (violent patient) and had a patient threaten to throw his bedside table at us (he was walking down the hall with it over his head)... i was terrified to go back the next week... but the next week was better and the staff were thrilled to have students, so it became a really positive learning environment...

    during my placement, i cared for patients with schizophrenia (both with positive and negative manifestations), severe depression, border line personality disorder (talk about manipulative!), eating disorders (the floor had an inpatient clinic, also a manipulative bunch!) and gender issues... i also was able to observe shock therapy (nothing at ALL like you'd expect) and group sessions... i found it all fascinating... and it was such a great way to practice your psych assessment skills...

    always remember, when you're dealing with a patient (especially one with a history of violence), never let yourself be blocked into a room... by that i mean always have an exit and don't let the patient get between you and the door... let a fellow student, Instructor or co-signed RN know where you are...

    try not to let your fear be evident... some patients will feed off of it... the important thing to do is approach the patient in a calm manner... never make sudden or aggressive moves...

    most importantly, LISTEN to what they're telling you and go with your gut feeling... if something seems really off or a patient starts to become agitated or eerily calm (when that's not their usual behaviour), remember that you need to keep yourself safe... a sense of caution is a good thing... try to feel at ease, without ever letting your guard down...

    and remember, not everyone you will encounter will be violently crazy... some of the people on the ward will be dealing with mental illnesses that don't manifest that way... in fact, if you weren't caring for them, you wouldn't even think they needed to be there! they can be some of the nicest and most caring people you ever interact with... they're just unable to cope with what's going on in their lives...

    i hope you have a positive experience...

    beth
  12. by   elkpark
    In my experience as a psych nursing instructor in an ADN program, I found that the students who sought me out 'way in advance to tell me how much they were looking forward to the psych course and clinical often ended up hating the experience, and the students who came into it dreading it often ended up really enjoying it.

    Try to keep an open mind and trust in the school and faculty to provide you with a reasonably safe environment and experience. I've always said that nursing programs should spend much more time and energy on psych nursing than they do -- nursing students learn so much info and skills/tasks that are going to change in the next year or two (and then change again!), and a lot of that information that you're working so hard to learn now will become completely outdated and useless in a short period of time, but one thing that doesn't change is how people work psychologically and emotionally, and you will use your psych listening and communication skills in every clinical specialty or setting you ever work in ...

    Also, although I haven't seen your previous thread, you are describing sxs of possible PTSD. If the traumatic event with the fellow student was fairly recent (last semester?), that's not at all unusual. If you are noticing that the sxs are slowly improving as time passes, you're probably going to be fine without any formal treatment. If the sxs are not improving, or are severe enough to hamper your functioning in daily life, you should seek out help from a mental health professional. As others have noted here, PTSD is v. treatable. Best wishes --
  13. by   purplemania
    I think you are exaggertating the threat. Psych clinicals will teach you a lot about yourself, including why you fear some people and how to manage that fear (since they are all around us. BELIEVE me, you will encounter unstable personalities in non-psych nursing areas because even the crazy get pneumonia). At least the psych patients are identified and isolated. You will be learning effective communication, and that comes in handy no matter with whom you are conversing. Relax. This too shall pass.
  14. by   twarlik
    Quote from purplemania
    I think you are exaggertating the threat. Psych clinicals will teach you a lot about yourself, including why you fear some people and how to manage that fear (since they are all around us. BELIEVE me, you will encounter unstable personalities in non-psych nursing areas because even the crazy get pneumonia). At least the psych patients are identified and isolated. You will be learning effective communication, and that comes in handy no matter with whom you are conversing. Relax. This too shall pass.
    I agree.
    I just finished my psych rotation and loved it! I was kind of nervous the first day, but there is staff everywhere to help in case you have any problems. I also found that the majority of the patients I worked with were happy to have someone to talk to since the staff was usually too busy to sit and chat. Just go in with an open mind and you'll do fine. You may discover that you love mental health!

    Good luck.

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