How long before you were able to get a position as a psychiatric nurse?

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    Hello! I recently graduated from nursing school and am working as a nurse in a doctor's office but have always wants to be a psychiatric nurse. I applied to a few new grad positions at a few different psychiatric hospitals. It is been a few days and I haven't heard anything. I know for most it takes a long time(weeks to months) but I thought due to the fact psych is a specialty and not as many people want to go into it I thought I would hear back fairly quickly. I plan on calling to check up on my application status about a week after I applied but I am curious when I should start to be be concerned. How long did it take you all to land a job in psych? Thank you for any input!

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  2. 16 Comments...

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    I went straight into psych. Time from application to job offer was about 6 weeks. I'll admit it wasn't my first choice at the time...but then I fell in love with it and haven't regretted it.

    Keep in mind that psych works a little differently: whereas other specialities will often make a job offer first and then wait on the results of the background check, drug test, references, etc...in psych, you usually have to clear all these wickets first, before they'll even issue an offer.

    Definitely stay on top of your application (and send a thank-you note if you haven't yet) but don't give up hope yet
    serenitylove14 likes this.
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    Well I'm sure it different for different hospitals and how soon after the position is posted that you see it and interview before they make a decision. I start my first nursing job, in psych on Tues. I graduated in Aug and passed my boards on Nov 18th. I did apply for a few jobs right away but my father was really sick beginning in Nov. until he passed away Dec 13th, and then I was mourning him so I wasn't really looking for a job full time until about the beginning of Jan, maybe a little after that. I did have 3 interviews, all at the psych hospital actually, one on Dec 6th, Dec 19, and Jan 17th or 18th. I got a call Jan 25th that I got the position. I think it generally takes about a month, and it was pretty true for me too. Every person I have talked to said it took about a month. If they didn't already have a job lined up after boards, it's about a month.
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    I passed my boards in mid January and have been applying for all types of positions -- one of which was in a psych hospital. I heard back from them a day later and interviewed the following day. I got job offer at the end of the interview! It still has to go through the official channels through HR, but it looks like a go. It happened so fast, I'm still trying to get my head around it. I had thought to get a med/surge job as a first position out of school, but jobs are hard to come by, and psych is one of my interests. So I'm gonna go for it. Since the position is 32 hours, I may try to look for a per diem gig someplace where I can take a few shifts a month and practice my clinical skills.
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    Im a new grad, May 2012, took a 6 month break and started looking for a job about 2 months ago. I got offered a position with a state psychiatric facility. That was the first place to offer me an interview and they pay the most out of everyone.
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    Quote from serenitylove14
    Im a new grad, May 2012, took a 6 month break and started looking for a job about 2 months ago. I got offered a position with a state psychiatric facility. That was the first place to offer me an interview and they pay the most out of everyone.
    Did you take it? What State are you in?
  8. 0
    Quote from Clark_Kent
    Did you take it? What State are you in?
    Yes I took it. I am in Tennessee. They pay better than all of our local hospitals.
  9. 0
    Quote from serenitylove14

    Yes I took it. I am in Tennessee. They pay better than all of our local hospitals.
    Did you feel any pressure to get some med/surg experience as a first nursing job? I kind of feel that with the tough job market, we may not get to be too choosy. Psych is one of my interests, I think I'm just going to go for it.
  10. 0
    Quote from Clark_Kent
    Did you feel any pressure to get some med/surg experience as a first nursing job? I kind of feel that with the tough job market, we may not get to be too choosy. Psych is one of my interests, I think I'm just going to go for it.
    No not really. At this point if you can get a job anywhere it will be a miracle lol. But no I had an interview the other day at a rehab facility and that would be when I would need med-surg first! They dont do anything but PO meds... smh... but it would be pretty easy job just not good for learning new things!
  11. 1
    Quote from Clark_Kent
    Did you feel any pressure to get some med/surg experience as a first nursing job? I kind of feel that with the tough job market, we may not get to be too choosy. Psych is one of my interests, I think I'm just going to go for it.
    Some pressure but not as much as you'd think.

    I agree with you: in this job market, a new grad can't be very choosy or they'll be an unemployed old grad before long. Also, if your interest is in psych--or you feel no affinity for med/surg--then why waste time when you can go straight where you want to be?

    You do have to stay on top of your medical knowledge in psych. But you can do that without having to serve time in med/surg first. Granted, in psych you're not inserting tubes and suctioning trachs, but you still have to stay on top of patients' medical conditions, not all of which are stable. People--including some psych nurses--tend to forget that psych patients don't leave their medical issues at the door when they check in

    Neverminding that there's a few psychiatric illnesses whose effects are heavily medical: eating disorders is a great example. Or medications that can play serious havoc medically: clozapine, anyone?
    dashingdiva likes this.


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