Mental Health Nursing

  1. 0
    I'm currently in an ADN-RN program and very interested in Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing. I would appreciate any feedback from someone in this field. Do you find it satisfying and rewarding? What might be some pros and cons? Thanks in advance for any feedback.
  2. 11 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    Quote from TerryNeal
    I'm currently in an ADN-RN program and very interested in Mental Health/Psychiatric Nursing. I would appreciate any feedback from someone in this field. Do you find it satisfying and rewarding? What might be some pros and cons? Thanks in advance for any feedback.
    One piece of advice, from someone who has been there: Don't go straight into mental health first thing out of nursing school. I did this, and when the mental health facility I was working in was closed by the parent company, I found myself largely unemployable - and the market was a lot more wide open then than it is now. Get some direct medical experience in another specialty - med-surg if you can get it - before venturing into mental health. Some employers have the idea that once you work in mental health you can't do anything else, and that can be difficult to overcome.
    deleern likes this.
  4. 1
    Thanks for the advice.
    deleern likes this.
  5. 0
    I went straight into Behavioral Health out of an ADN program and love it! I've been there just over two years and can't think of anything else that I'd rather be doing (as a RN, lol!) right now. I have no regrets at all. If you are drawn to mental health, then go for it! Why wouldn't you?

    There are so many avenues you can go down..... there is correctional nursing (that's a lot of psych), crisis, long-term care (and I'm not talking elderly), CAIS, the VA has mental health units......

    I work for a larger county mental health in LTC with pts that may never be suitable in society. I love it, but it can be pretty dangerous. Good luck to you!
  6. 1
    Pros- Doing something you are drawn to
    Running crazy in a totally different way than med surge
    Making a difference, even for a short time, in a pts life
    You can have super charged adrenaline times and then time to catch your breath

    Cons- It can be very dangerous
    It can be frustrating (like putting a band aid on a gsw)
    It can be dangerous
    You either love it or hate it
    Did I metion it can be dangerous?
    ear likes this.
  7. 0
    Quote from chevyv
    Pros- Doing something you are drawn to
    Running crazy in a totally different way than med surge
    Making a difference, even for a short time, in a pts life
    You can have super charged adrenaline times and then time to catch your breath

    Cons- It can be very dangerous
    It can be frustrating (like putting a band aid on a gsw)
    It can be dangerous
    You either love it or hate it
    Did I metion it can be dangerous?
    I'm a very easy going and non confrontational person. I do, however, tend to respond quickly and appropriately when pressed into action. I like the adrenaline as long as there's some down time. It still sounds interesting but I like your suggestion of starting out getting some more versatile experience.
  8. 3
    Quote from Orca
    One piece of advice, from someone who has been there: Don't go straight into mental health first thing out of nursing school. I did this, and when the mental health facility I was working in was closed by the parent company, I found myself largely unemployable - and the market was a lot more wide open then than it is now. Get some direct medical experience in another specialty - med-surg if you can get it - before venturing into mental health. Some employers have the idea that once you work in mental health you can't do anything else, and that can be difficult to overcome.
    While I see where you are coming from, I would respectfully disagree. I've had several HR people tell me they like seeing the mental health experience on resumes because those nurses tend to be more flexible and tend to be able to handle a wide variety of situations. Maybe it's just that in my area the myth that mental health nurses don't do medical cares is being wiped out?
  9. 0
    And to answer the original OP:

    Pros:
    Every day is different
    You will meet people you NEVER would meet otherwise
    You will most likely have a "Wow! My mind is blown!" moment on a monthly, if not weekly basis.
    You will learn to be flexible, adaptable and to think extremely fast on your feet.
    You WILL help someone and make a difference in someone's life.

    Cons:
    You will probably get hit, spit on, pushed, bitten, call horrible, nasty names and pretty much anything else retaliatory you can think of.
    There are some people that you will never be able to help.
    If you take it too personally, you will get burnt out.
  10. 0
    If you like psych and you know that's what you want to do then by all means try and land a job. I came into psych right out of nursing school and not by choice but rather it was the first nursing opportunity that offered me a job. Ideally I'm going to transfer to ICU/Med-Surg once I'm eligible for internal transfer.

    Cons
    -Not clinically challenging. Most of the medications I administer are PO or IM. Rarely do we have patients that have IVs & if they do it's for a couple of days. There are a bunch of nursing skills that I haven't used since nursing school.
    -8 hours shifts. Most jobs in psych are 8 hr shifts meaning you only get 2 days off a week.
    -It can be physically dangerous. There are a couple of floors that are notorious for having staff members out on work leave b/c of being injured while on the job.

    Pros
    -You get to help people (really that's all nursing specialties)
    -You learn a lot about the things that your patients have been thru & how they got to a certain point in their life
    -You get experience working with difficult behaviors such as antisocial/borderline/oppositional

    Also, beginning your career in mental health & then transferring to acute later on if you please may or may not be an issue. My psych facility is part of a bigger health systems that includes many hospitals and there've been several nurses who started in psych in then transferred to the medical hospital.
  11. 0
    It can be a very intense job. It's both rewarding and draining. Whether it fits you will depend on how well you function in high-stress situations. If you are able to stay calm while someone right next to you is going absolutely bananas, you'll be just fine! It's great to see someone really get better and know that you had a part in that. It's also great to hear someone say "thank you, you guys saved my life just by being here and listening." The con is the part of having to be a sin eater...you have to listen to some pretty awful stories day after day after day and it is disheartening and draining at times. But the pros are so much better. Just make sure your facility is adequately staffed and that the staff is adequately trained - this makes ALL the difference. Feel free to send me a PM if you have any questions!


    - Pita


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