For a little background, I am still a pretty new LPN (passed NCLEX May 2012, have worked in a primary care doctor's office since July 2012) and just started my LPN to RN online bridge program. That being said, I'm probably getting a bit ahead of myself, but I find myself asking some questions about where I'm heading.
Sorry if this turns into a novel!
I absolutely love mental health. It's my passion, and the whole reason for why I went to nursing school was to become a PMHNP. I feel very lucky that I'm able to work for a doctor that sees my love for mental health and will help me to grow in my skills of assessing and creating a rapport with patients (the later can be a little difficult because, though I am 27, I often get mistaken for a teenager when people first meet me. This can make it understandably uncomfortable for patients to open up about topics where they are concerned about being judged or facing stigma). It is so fulfilling to see a patient respond to treatment or give you "the look" that says "hey, you actually understand".
I have also been able to shadow two psychiatrists who were kind enough to let me be involved in their appointments (mostly asking my own assessment questions) and were very encouraging.
My only hang-up is this...
As much as I LOVE mental health, and couldn't imagine NOT dedicating my life to it in some way...I also wonder about the idea of it being the specialty that I see, everyday. There are some days at work that I'm glad to see a schedule full of patients with no overt psychiatric issues, I feel like they help me recharge my emotional energy.
I have seen so many people that work in psych (both as the nurse and as the patient) that just have no energy to empathize with their patients. I can't stand the idea of becoming like that.
Have any of you had these same concerns? How do you keep yourself from burning out or losing your empathy after working in psych long-term?
Thanks for reading this whole thing. Looking forward to your responses.