I just graduated from nursing school
in December, and I have to say that my Psych rotation was AWESOME!!! I think that so many people give Psych a bad name- if you go into the rotation thinking negatively, that will affect how you approach and help the patients, and it will make your whole experience bad right from the start. First, remember that these people are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers...they have kids and families and homes and problems just like you or I. They've been down and out, and some of them will have stories that will break your heart, like one man I met who was a tiny little guy with the face of an angel who couldn't stop himself from jumping off interstate overpasses from time to time. Or another man I met who had his PhD in Physics and taught at an Ivy League University before he finally succumbed fully to schizophrenia. He was so unbelievably well-spoken and had read every book you could imagine, but he was never able to totally lead the life he had before he was finally diagnosed. Lost his wife, kids, etc. Couldn't control his anger, but his heart was full of love for his family and it was just heartbreaking. Or the woman I met who had the mentality of a four year old, who wanted to hold my hand all day because she said I kept the devil away from her when I was there. She drew me a picture of crosses and rainbows and told me she loved me and for a minute, she really believed it. I did, too. Psych can be amazing. These people are vulnerable and fragile and we are in the unique position to help them understand their illnesses and hopefully learn skills to cope with them on a daily basis. For some of these people, tomorrow is too far into the future- they struggle to deal with every day, every minute, in spite of their conditions. In our rotation, we got to spend an enormous amount of time simply socializing with the patients. We brought hard candy and gum for them (the meds give them cotton mouth) and decks of cards and old board games and puzzles and books. We brought clothes and toothpaste and stuff so they would be able to change into something clean when they were brought in off of the street. I met a catatonic man who could do nothing but whimper and cry his first days on the unit- he'd stopped taking his meds for schizophrenia (the majority of the pt's had some form of this) and was found hiding behind a dumpster. I held his hand and he looked right at me but could do nothing as the tears just streamed out of his eyes. I held his hand in mine and blotted his tears and talked to him softly for four hours until we had to leave. I wasn't returning for a week, and told him that, and I left aching. When our class returned to the unit the following week, he'd begun to respond, and called me 'Miss'. By the time our rotation finished, he was like new, almost- talking and laughing and joking with the other guys. I did a lot of paperwork for class on his case, so spent a bit of time talking with him. He said he didn't know what was going on with his body, but he remembered every word I said and everything I did that day he was crying. Please, I wish for you that you open your mind and heart for these people. This can be the most rewarding experience of your entire nursing education. Don't be afraid of physical violence. Most pt's are medicated fully, and the ones who are dangerous will be pointed out to you and you will notice psych techs or other staff members keep a close watch on them. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, let them know. That was a big part of our lesson- "Mr. Smith, the way you are staring at me is inappropriate." or "Mrs. Jones, it is not appropriate for you to touch me in that manner." etc., etc. Another thing we did was hold group therapy sessions- I held one on anger management and it was SPECTACULAR. If you have any questions, let me know. I'd be happy to answer them. Good luck!!! I hope you love it!!!
Ps. I'm exhausted- hope this made sense!!