What Type of Nursing is Right for Me?

  1. 5
    Hello all,

    I am currently a nursing student in Texas who will be graduating (fingers crossed) in May. I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the areas of nursing that are available to me and I am looking for some advice or guidance from those who were once in my shoes!

    I feel a calling towards psychiatric nursing, seeing as Texas is the 48th state for "best" mental health care. I believe this area of nursing is frequently over looked, and it interests me deeply. Not many of my classmates enjoyed this portion of our education, therefore I am having difficulty finding somebody to relate to in my interest for mental health care. I plan on speaking with my psychiatric nursing professor about job opportunities available to me in the psychiatric field. I just want to make sure this is really the area I would like to work in. I still have quite a bit of time before I graduate but I know it will creep up on me faster than I will realize.

    So I suppose my question is: how did you all know which area of nursing was right for you?
    I have surfed the web for quizzes to help narrow down my interests but most of these quizzes seem a bit, unreliable.

    Another question specifically aimed at nurses in the psychiatric field: What qualities in a nurse do you believe are crucial to psychiatric care? What advice would you give to a nursing student considering going into psychiatric nursing?

    Thank you to all in advance, it was very comforting to find a website like this that I could reach out to fellow nurses and soon to be or hopeful nurses!

    Best, Anna
    Last edit by Joe V on Nov 30, '12 : Reason: spacing
    Sariga, timmedico, ShelleyAnne69, and 2 others like this.
  2. 20 Comments so far...

  3. 4
    My first job was in a medical psych unit of the VA. When I graduated I just wanted a job. Any job would do. I wanted to learn about all that I had tested on so many times. I did not feel ready for anything. It was a great first job. In my career I have have done most kinds of nursing, except OR. Sometimes I ended up in a specific job because that was what was needed at the facility I was acccepted at. That is how I ended up in ICU, CCU, Step down, Dementia, and a few others.

    I think over time your interests may change, certainly mine did. Things I hated as a young pup I found I loved as an older nurse. Some things never did change and were advantages no matter what type of nursing I was doing.

    Psych is a very interesting field. It is also a tough field because many of the admits are repeats because of refusal to take meds. It seems like you do teaching about how important it is to take the meds and because the people are feeling better or because they hate the side effects they stop taking meds. It can be a revolving door. For me that is very frustrating. It happens in all areas but is so clear in psych.

    If you have choices for jobs great. Take what you think you might enjoy. Know that in a few years you propbably will change and look for something a bit different. If your job market is tight take any job and learn. If you look you will find every person has psych needs not met, especially in acute care. many times these go unrecognized. You will find what you want no matter where you are planted, if you are willing to do the personal search necessary.

    Best wishes.
    rngolfer53, VivaLasViejas, somenurse, and 1 other like this.
  4. 6
    I started working in psych as a new grad... That is my specialty. I adore it. I recently switched to med-surg to get some experience to be able to put it on my resume. But to be honest, as a new grad you have to just apply all over the place and see who gives you an opportunity. Employers do not like paying to train a new grad. There are tons of nursing jobs: just not for new graduates. You get what you get at first. Once you have experience you will be able to move around and find out what area you like best.
  5. 1
    I also wanted to be a psych nurse when I was in nursing school! My psych clinical instructor was the one who encouraged me to begin my nursing career on a medical-surgical floor. I am really happy with my decision! I am about 2 years out working on a 24 bed med-surg-tele floor and I have experienced a lot of different situations. It was a great learning environment for a GN/ new RN If you have a passion for psych nursing, go for it!!! Good luck with whatever path you choose!!!
    Quote from abeccone
    Hello all, I am currently a nursing student in Texas who will be graduating (fingers crossed) in May. I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the areas of nursing that are available to me and I am looking for some advice or guidance from those who were once in my shoes! I feel a calling towards psychiatric nursing, seeing as Texas is the 48th state for "best" mental health care. I believe this area of nursing is frequently over looked, and it interests me deeply. Not many of my classmates enjoyed this portion of our education, therefore I am having difficulty finding somebody to relate to in my interest for mental health care. I plan on speaking with my psychiatric nursing professor about job opportunities available to me in the psychiatric field. I just want to make sure this is really the area I would like to work in. I still have quite a bit of time before I graduate but I know it will creep up on me faster than I will realize. So I suppose my question is: how did you all know which area of nursing was right for you? I have surfed the web for quizzes to help narrow down my interests but most of these quizzes seem a bit, unreliable. Another question specifically aimed at nurses in the psychiatric field: What qualities in a nurse do you believe are crucial to psychiatric care? What advice would you give to a nursing student considering going into psychiatric nursing? Thank you to all in advance, it was very comforting to find a website like this that I could reach out to fellow nurses and soon to be or hopeful nurses! Best, Anna
    somenurse likes this.
  6. 4
    The beauty of nursing is that you can switch 'specialties'. Go where you're pulled. I've been in nursing since 1972, most of it psych. Most pts have some underlying psych dx. Plus, if you know your psych, you'll have an easier time with your boards. As mentioned before, non compliance is a huge problem, but, until they can stabilize meds for 6 months and have an implantable pump, it's difficult for the pts, their families and us! They get to a poiint where they gain weight, or don't think it works, so they flush it, sell it, trade it, loose it whatever! I think in psych, you must learn to think outside the box. What works for one, doesn't work for the identical twin with the same symptoms! The study and treatment of the mind is still in it's infancy. Also, most psych drugs take 4-6 weeks to work and pts are too frustrated! We are a society of 'fix it yesterday'. I'm on a local PET team and I can't tell you HOW many kids I get in the ER! Parents have had however many years to screw this kid up, indulge him, make excuses for their bx, take their side against schools, police, neighbors, relatives, etc, then want me to fix them in 60 minutes!! Sorry, pixie dust was optional with the RN renewal and I chose not to spend the $75 for it! A sense of humor is also important. (In it's place, of course). It helps if you have someone close to you who has a mental illness (and nowadays who doesn't?). Empathy is critical. You'll learn to think like they do. That's scary sometimes! Good luck and let me know how you're doing!!!
    jdeutsch, NRSKarenRN, rngolfer53, and 1 other like this.
  7. 1
    Hi,

    I graduated nursing school dec 2011 and went straight into psych nursing may 2012. Luckily I worked in psych 2 years before I went to nursing school so it was an easy transition as far as dealing with my patients at my job now. I recommend it if you are interested because it is often overlooked.

    I knew in nursing school that I didnt want to do medsurg at all, I was interested in critical care and OR and psych, didnt think I would go straight into psych but the opportunity presented itself and Im so happy and absolutely love and adore my job, I love my patients and the staff I work with. It is extremely frustrating at times when you educate your patients on med compliance and coping skills and then they return back to the unit off of their meds and in the same bad situation they were in before, however, its the same with medical floors, its just you dont get the same patients on medical floors I love that you are interested in psych, it tells me that you had a pretty good psych rotation, we get students all the time on my unit and I try to give them true advice, because I know in nursing school everyone thinks ER and L&D are the cool fields to go in and psych is often left out

    Go with your heart, you can always change fields if its not for you, thats the great part of nursing
    somenurse likes this.
  8. 2
    I found psych to be very interesting. I agree with many of the writers. Go where you feel the pull. I started out in med surg, did some work in pediatrics and long story short, I ended up in hospice. I love hospice. It is second nature to me. I love being at bedside and helping patients and families. Never in a million years would I have thought this would be a hospice nurse. Go try psych.. If you don't like it you can always see what other areas interest you. Best of luck to you and congrats on your upcoming graduation.


    Quote from abeccone
    Hello all,

    I am currently a nursing student in Texas who will be graduating (fingers crossed) in May. I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the areas of nursing that are available to me and I am looking for some advice or guidance from those who were once in my shoes!

    I feel a calling towards psychiatric nursing, seeing as Texas is the 48th state for "best" mental health care. I believe this area of nursing is frequently over looked, and it interests me deeply. Not many of my classmates enjoyed this portion of our education, therefore I am having difficulty finding somebody to relate to in my interest for mental health care. I plan on speaking with my psychiatric nursing professor about job opportunities available to me in the psychiatric field. I just want to make sure this is really the area I would like to work in. I still have quite a bit of time before I graduate but I know it will creep up on me faster than I will realize.

    So I suppose my question is: how did you all know which area of nursing was right for you?
    I have surfed the web for quizzes to help narrow down my interests but most of these quizzes seem a bit, unreliable.

    Another question specifically aimed at nurses in the psychiatric field: What qualities in a nurse do you believe are crucial to psychiatric care? What advice would you give to a nursing student considering going into psychiatric nursing?

    Thank you to all in advance, it was very comforting to find a website like this that I could reach out to fellow nurses and soon to be or hopeful nurses!

    Best, Anna
    somenurse and rammstein like this.
  9. 0
    Best of luck to you! As a PP alluded to, non-adherence is an issue in all areas of nursing, both psych and med/surg areas. People don't take their psych meds for the same reasons they don't take their meds for HTN. Side effects. Or, sometimes people just aren't motivated to care for themselves the way they should as far as diabetics checking their blood sugar, etc. That's usually not the issue in psych: usually, they aren't motivated since they're either depressed or think nothing is wrong with them. If you feel psych is for you, then go for it. You should be able to get a psych position as a new grad since psych isn't a high demand nursing area like you mentioned. However, it is an area that needs people who really want to do it.

    Obviously, listening skills are of importance, being compassionate, yet strict with rules when necessary (borderline personality disorder, etc), non-judgmental. I work in ICU, but I did work in psych before becoming a nurse, and I could have worked psych as my first nursing job, but opted for another position close to home at the time (so it is possible as a new grad).

    You'll find your niche with time, and you may find that psych is your niche and you stay there your whole nursing career or you may find that you're restless after a few years. It's good that you're really looking into it and asking your professor, but you'll only know after experience.
  10. 3
    Thank you for the words of encouragement, everybody! I'll keep you posted (no pun intended) on what my psych professor has to say. I value all of your suggestions and wisdom, maybe one day I'll be the one doling out advice to the student nurses
    jdeutsch, rngolfer53, and somenurse like this.
  11. 0
    Wow, just wanted to say, i'm always in awe of those nurses who do choose to dedicate themselves to psyche care. I think we all get some psyche nursing, most every week, no matter what floor we are on, as psyche patients tend to be over-represented among the unhealthy or sick.
    I've never been drawn to do it, but, admire those who do. Takes a special person, imo, to excell in that field, imo.

    and like others above have said, what we think we want while in school, and what we might be drawn to, 10 or 20 years later, can morph over time.

    me, i always thought, even when while in school, that i want to do it "all". To work on most every kind of unit there is, to float around, to switch it up, to try everything.

    and pretty much, i have met that goal, i've worked most every type of unit i've heard of. Not a goal that appeals to everyone, but, worked for me. BEST OF LUCK!!


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