I'll try to be brief so as not to induce boredom:
Since age 18 (I'm now 31), I have suffered from depression and anxiety. I received one non nursing baccalaureate degree in 2005, had a failed semester at law school (I attribute this to the depression) and then got my BSN on August of 2012. I am currently working at my first nursing job on a neuro/med-surg floor.
My initial goal when entering nursing school was to become a mental health np. However, during my junior year of nursing school, I had a hypomanic episode (my first) and was hospitalized for six days. Currently I'm on more effective meds and doing just fine, now having a diagnosis of type II bipolar disorder. I mostly deal with depression, and am seeing a psychiatrist whom I like and trust.
My question to you all is this: would my personal experiences as a psych patient work well for me as a psych nurse? I didn't precept in nor pursue a job in mental health because I was concerned it would be a constant negative reminder of how painful this disorder had been for me growing up.
But the more that I've been a med-surg nurse (albeit for only a few short months), I wonder if maybe psych nursing isn't the route I should have taken.
What are your thoughts on this? Good idea or bad? Would I be 'too close' personally?
It's a very personal choice. A lot of nurses with psych hx purposely choose not to work in psych, because, as you note, it cuts a little too close to the bone for them. On the other hand, a surprising number of significantly dysfunctional people (with or without a "formal" psych history) seem to end up working in psych (mostly in unlicensed type roles, but also a surprising number of licensed professionals) and it often appears (from the outside) to be because they are, on some level, conscious or unconscious, seeking to get their own needs (for treatment, support, etc.) met. I've worked with quite a few people over the years who fit that description, and, lemme tell ya, that doesn't work for anybody -- them, clients, other staff, administration ... Then, there are people with experience on "the other side of the couch" who choose to work in psych for the same reasons anyone else does and do a fine job. Those individuals keep their personal business (like personal psych hx) to themselves, which is the professional and therapeutic thing to do in that circumstance.
I don't hear anything in your post about feeling drawn to psych nursing, just that you're wondering whether you "should" pursue it. Is this something that you want to do, that interests and engages you professionally? You have no kind of personal or professional obligation to work in psych just because you have personal experience, and psych units/facilities aren't going out of their way to look for staff with psych backgrounds. It's entirely up to you.
Best wishes for your journey!
Last edit by elkpark on Jan 10, '13
^^ Looks like we were typing at the same time.
The temptation for many people who go into a particular specialty after personal experience is always to share, to let the patients feel your empathy, to let the patients know, "I understand what you're going through, I've been there." The problems there are twofold.
One, no matter how empathetic you are, you are NOT experiencing the situation they way the patient is. It is presumptuous to assume otherwise.
Two, it is totally not about you. It is inappropriate for you to insert yourself and your experiences into the patient's care situation.
So please bear this in mind as you journey to your decision about nursing in general and psych nursing in particular.
Last edit by GrnTea on Jan 10, '13
: Reason: oops. missed that you have graduated