This could have been me writing this original post, I just resigned from my position in an acute care mental health facility (we do not call them "psych" hospitals in California because of stigma associated with it..), after only 4 months. My goal on a daily basis was to get done with my shift without being physically assaulted by the patients. The goal of the administration was to keep the beds filled and monies rolling in. There was not thought as to the type of patient that was being admitted. My favorites were the ones coming from the prison, this was a fast ticket out of jail to us if they stated they were having "thoughts to hurt themselves". Many times these patients were paranoid, and extremely violent. It was unsafe for staff and other patients.
Nursing management was a joke. When I was first hired there was only an interim and she only stayed 3 weeks. When a permanent one was hired, she felt her role was to task nurses with more work, and what I mean, is filling out stupid forms, double and triple charting. Absolutely ridiculous. I always did what was best for my patients but could not give them the total attention I would have wished. I would run a therapeutic group BUT the paperwork afterwards to document every single thing would weigh us down so much that we often skipped doing the group, because we knew we could not complete the charting in a timely manner and NOT have to work overtime, which was a big NO-NO!
The unit was full of behavior problems, NOT true psych patients. The behavior problems, drug seekers were very scary to work with as they knew the system and they knew how to get the staff in trouble. The last straw for me was when I had a patient have a seizure, who had no history of seizures. While we were tending to this patient, and calling EMT for an emergency room admit, 3 other "behavior" patients, decided to throw themselves to the floor, writhing and banging their heads on the wall, yelling.."is this what I have to do to get attention around here!"...and their idea of attention was receiving their constant diet of Norco, SOMAs, Vicodin, etc, etc...It was high stress. The patient that had the seizure is all right, but then our nurse manager asked me...What could I have DONE BETTER to prevent the other patients from acting out...SERIOUSLY??? you want me to control their bad drug seeking behavior.
Also, psychiatrists who as ME how the patient is doing and then bill the patient for a visit without ever really talking to the patient. Saw that all the time.
I am so lucky as I am also a PHN and have a new job as a case manager in the county health department where I live helping families find medical services for their children that need help. I start that job on Monday and I could not be happier.
By the way, I am 55 and nursing was my second career. I loved psych nursing and was VERY GOOD at it and very effective, BUT, management was the downfall, and I figured they will never be pleased. I took a pay cut to take the job I have now, but it will be worth it. My advice, if you feel UNSAFE search for something else, do not put yourself through that, it is not worth it.