How does one become a psych nurse?

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    I am currently an RN with 17 years of nursing experience, the past 13 years have been in CCU. A recent injury to my cervical spine has made me rethink my desire to continue in critical care nursing. Because my personal life has been touched by mental illness in the family, I think psych nursing may be a field which interests me. What kind of additional training would you suggest I get so I could make the switch? All of the ads I have seen in local papers in this area require experience.
    Thanks, CGBRN
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  4. 7 Comments so far...

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    I work in a facility that is 100 acute care and 100 psych patients on the other side, which is locked down. Many of us nurses work both sides. The psych side is physically easier. To me, dealing with the behaviours is like dealing with my kids at home. Psych patients need rewards for good behaviour, although punishment for bad behaviour is hard because they will get violent. You cannot withhold a cigarette as punishment because you will get hit! They know they can hit you and you cannot hit them back. (I'm sure some social worker made sure they know their rights) It's hard to give them things to do because most have a short attention span and won't sit still. You have to hunt for them on your med pass even. No book or video will truly prepare you for dealing with the psych patient. You have to "wing it" The only advice I can truly give you is when things get crazy and they usually do on second shift or a full moon, run in your nurses station and lock the door!!You can get a job anywhere, no special training will help. I tell you this from EXPERIENCE!!!! I do love my psych patients, though.

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    jen622
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    cjbrn--I forgot to tell you, when you go for an interview, even if the ad says experience needed, tell them you do have experience, I'm sure you've had some difficult patients, doctors, families. And tell them about your family experience with psych. Tell them you're a fast learner. If they had all these nurses beating their doors down for a job they wouldn't have an ad. I am really sorry about your injury, I hope things go well.

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    jen622
  7. 3
    Jen, please do everyone a favor and leave the field you are dangerous to your patients and your fellow staff members. Running and locking yourself in the nurses station is appauling. Your attitude about this specialty field is poor. Psychiatric patients can be extremely difficult I agree, but a talented nurse usually intervens before a crisis develops. The field is not for everyone.
    Anoetos, angelalala, and katyb213 like this.
  8. 0
    When I was hired, the managment accepted previous work as a PCA to a brain-damaged young lady and as an RN on a dementia unit as related enough to psych. I asked what the hardest thing about psych was, and they said that it was hard for some to deal with folks who were going to improve (if at all) over decades. Splint a bone, or stitch a wound and it heals in days/weeks/months. Psych patients may never "heal" all the way, and if they do, it is usually measured in years or decades.

    I said that I was used to dementia patients, who were bad, got worse and they passed away. Years to better was a step up.

    I got the job.
  9. 0
    Quote from Healthnut
    Jen, please do everyone a favor and leave the field you are dangerous to your patients and your fellow staff members. Running and locking yourself in the nurses station is appauling. Your attitude about this specialty field is poor. Psychiatric patients can be extremely difficult I agree, but a talented nurse usually intervens before a crisis develops. The field is not for everyone.
    Amen.
  10. 1
    I second the amen.
    Meriwhen likes this.
  11. 0
    I'm pretty sure Jen was joking. Or at least I hope she was.


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