Jumping from a BA in Psychology to a Psychiatric nurse

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    currently i have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, my mom has been a nurse for more than 30 years (basically born a nurse) i would like to become a psychiatric nurse, any advice on how to make the
    jump?
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    I am not sure about how to actually get a job as a pyschiatric nurse but I do know that there are many accelerated BS programs for people who have a degree in another field, which would enable you to get become an RN.

    I went to Binghamton University in New York-PM me if you have any questions.
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    Well, you "make the jump" by going to nursing school ... There are accelerated BSN programs for people who already have a baccalaureate degree in something else, but it may be quicker and/or cheaper to go through a community college ADN/ASN program, so you may want to look at all your options before making a decision.

    You do realize, though, that there's no "specialty" psychiatric nursing school, right? US nurses are educated as generalists, and your school and the licensure exam will cover all the areas of nursing -- you will be doing all the personal care, dealing with bodies and bodily fluids (of every kind), etc., that everyone else does in nursing school. When you graduate and are licensed, you can look for a job in psychiatric nursing, but many psych facilities/units are reluctant to hire new graduates without any prior medical-surgical nursing experience (that varies from facility to facility; some don't mind hiring new grads). In my experience (>20 years in all levels and settings of psychiatric nursing), your BA in psychology will not give you any real "edge" or advantage in job-hunting. Psychology and nursing (even psychiatric nursing) are two entirely separate disciplines.

    I'm not saying this because I want to discourage you at all, but I have met many people over the years who have gotten a BA in psychology and have then gotten the idea that they'd like to be a psychiatric nurse because they're v. disappointed in the employment opportunities available with a BA in psychology, and they see psychiatric nurses doing what looks to them very much like what they're doing but the nurses are getting paid a lot more for doing it, so ... However, they have no idea what's really involved in becoming (and being) an RN, and, as they start to find out, typically (in my personal experience) decide it's not for them after all.

    That may not be your situation at all, though, and I don't mean to sound suspicious or insulting. Have you discussed your idea with your mother? I'm sure she has a lot of insight and good advice to offer. Best wishes for whatever you decide!
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    Hey.
    I have a BS in Psychology and just finished nursing school in December, took the boards two days ago and found out this morning that I passed. I was a golf professional for seven years and got tired of having 250 bosses at the country club. I went into a BSN program with only one semster (6 additional hours) of course work. Most community colleges will not take any science course that is over 5 years old. It was quicker for me to get a BSN than to get an associates degree. I think that I will eventually get into psych nursing (because it is interesting) but I am going to get some other experiences first. I precepted in ICU and started orientation for a job in OR today. I plan to get a couple years there, move to critical care for a while, maybe do a little traveling and then go to work at a mental health hospital where I have good connections. I just want to tell you that you can do it, just explore all of your options for a nursing education, put your best foot forward and be a rock. Oh, yeah...nursing school and a psych program are two different worlds. I kept outstanding grades in the psych program while living in a fraternity house, partying, never going to class, and just charming my way through. Luckily, I grew up before I went to nursing school, got serious, worked my you-know-what off, getting involved in everything imaginable in the nursing program (class officer, SNA officer, Cultural Diversity officer) and in the process, graduated with some great stuff for a resume like Dean's and President's lists, a Departmental Nursing Award (which included some cash) and the National Collegiate Nursing Award. Just go for it if it's what you want, just remember...it ain't going to be a cakewalk and you have to be disciplined.
    Last edit by RollingThunder on Jan 26, '06
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    I have a BA in psychology and have been a RN for about two years now on an inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit. I must say that the background in psych has been a great experience, and I encourage you to get into nursing. At this point, maybe try a 2 year Associate degree program? That way you will be a registered nurse, with a background in psych. I must disagree with elkpark in that psychology and nursing are two entirely different disciplines. I think Psychology and nursing are very similar, and so are the ways those skills transfer into the job setting. Best of luck to you!
    Starting Over... likes this.
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    GOOD ADVICE SO FAR

    I had a BA in English Literature and 5 years full time experience as an orderly in a general hospital before I went for my RN. I went the associates degree route and by going to summer school was able to compleat the program in 2 years and was able to work fulltime too. I don't recommend this but I was supporting myself, a wife and 3 small kids. I had to work full time nights to make ends meet.

    I have been in a hiring possition for a psych unit and I would not want to hire a nurse who did not have med/surg or eguivalent experience. Inpatient psych units are lossey with people who have psych specialties, the value of the nurses is that they are medical generalists. Crazy people get sick and injured too. There has to be somebody who will recognize that black tarry diarrhea is a medical emergency that needs to go to the ER stat, not get a referral to seen in the clinic in a couple days. (Yes that's the short form of a true story.)
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    I also have a B.A. in Psychology and right now I am in my last semester of a BSN program. This second degree is only taking me 4 semesters to complete because most of my previous college credit was accepted. I did however, have to take A&P, Chem, and Microbio which I took part-time before I applied to BSN programs while I worked full-time. The local ADN had the exact same pre-reqs as the BSN programs and still took 4 semesters to complete. If getting the BSN takes you the same amount of time as the ADN, I'd go for the BSN.

    You might want to consider schools that have a special BSN-MSN for students who already have degrees. That way you could get a MSN in Psych NP and the BSN within 3 years. Check out schools like Emory and Vanderbilt. They have programs like that.
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    I also had BA in Psych. For me I went back and got an Associates in Nursing. I was able to transfer most of my classes (except Bio, Chem, and of course the Nursing classes.) Took me 2 years. You could go back for Bachelors in nursing, excelarated classes etc. To me the Associates in Nursing is fine - I have a BA, and my Nursing license and most hospitals are not requiring a BA in Nursing. So why spend extra time and money for something you don't need. Associates degree is much much cheaper, and faster.
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    if you are interested in nursing,go for it. Please do keep in mind as CharlieRN said so aptly,crazy people get sick too. Our population is aging too,so we see multi-system chronicity,not just mental health. A good psych nurse needs some good solid med surg experience. Some meds can cause urinary retention,drooling,gait and other motor disturbances as well as many other s/e. Pt. may need spot cathed,injections,wounds treated and assessed, staples,sutures taken out,cental lines cared for, blood glucose monitoring,hypertension,COPD,have skin conditions and infections due to lack of self care because of their mental health problems. We see transients with awful dental and nutritional problems,Hep C,HIV, AIDS,lice,impetigo,scabies, parasites,constipation/megacolon etc.....those with alcohol problems are prone to some bad bleeding problems from varicosities,espohageal and rectal,plus don't clot well from their bad livers,you get my drift.
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    Quote from vermonster
    I am not sure about how to actually get a job as a pyschiatric nurse but I do know that there are many accelerated BS programs for people who have a degree in another field, which would enable you to get become an RN.

    I went to Binghamton University in New York-PM me if you have any questions.

    hi i don't really know how to use this forum, and it won't let me contact you, but i was wondering if you could help me out because I'm in my 3rd yr in getting my BA in psychology but i also want to do nursing, so i was wondering whats the best way to combine the two? thank you!
    -Annie


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