Psych Nurse right out of school?

  1. What is your take on being a psych nurse right out of a two year program? I've had some tell me go for it and others say get some med-surg experience first. What do you think?
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   elkpark
    There are several older threads here on that question that discuss the pros and cons and various members' opinions. You could do a search or browse through the Psychiatric Nursing forum to find them, and get lots of info.
  4. by   Dan.Ed
    to Rivs; I'd say - go for it.... Sure you can learn alot from a year on the med/surg floor, but you'll learn alot in psych, too. A large number of psych pts have medical problems you will be dealing with and learning about; diabetes, cancer, heart problems, respiratory problems, pregnancy, resistant infections, gun shots, self inflicted cuts, overdoses, and many more. ..... And when you are a psych nurse, it is very easy to ask the medical specialty docs who come around to see their patients to explain a little about what they are assessing and why... Most medical specialty docs will be glad to give an attentive psych nurse a brief tutorial on what is happening.... You see, psych nurses have the advantage of being able to say to the medical guys/gals , "we may have to send your pt back to the medical floor if we can't care for him here"..... and medical docs hate nothing worse than having a Psych pt on their nice calm medical floor.

    If you develope a rapport with a medical doc, you will find that after a while they will start asking for you to take care of their pts on the psych unit...

    Good luck with your decision... Dan
  5. by   HeadGames
    As a staff development coordinator in a pretty large (270 bed) psychiatric hospital, I would have to say I'm on the fence here. A couple years ago, I would have said unwaveringly that I would want you to have at least one year of med/surg experience first. The past year and 1/2 though, in the midst of a serious nursing crunch, has taught me that many of the new grads come with very fresh ideas and a good set of assessment skills. Not all, mind you. If you feel that you have strong medical assessment abilities, then you'd likely be quite successful going directly into psych. But it's also not a bad idea at all to hone your skills in a med/surg setting (most have plenty of psych consumers thrown in for good measure, too) for a while first.
  6. by   Havin' A Party!
    Rivs -- The classic advice, which IMHO is still totally valid, is that -- unless you know for sure that you wanna do MH nursing for a long while -- then get your year or two of Med / Surg or any other clinical experience first.
  7. by   iluvsnoopy
    Hi.
    I like you wanted to do psych nursing right out of school but I was scared of losing my skills and everyone said to do med-surg first. So I ended up working on a medical floor for 10 months. On the plus side, it did increase my organizational skills and get me some practical experience in dealing with poeple who are "medically ill." It also made me realize that psych is where my heart is and I began looking for a job in psych. I now work on a psycho-geriatric unit & my medical experience helps. I don't regret going to the medical floor, I trusted my gut feeling that I needed to go there but I didn't put a time limit on how long I'd be there. For me it was the right decision. Good luck, I'm sure you'll make the right decision for you.
  8. by   mona b RN
    Quote from Rivs
    What is your take on being a psych nurse right out of a two year program? I've had some tell me go for it and others say get some med-surg experience first. What do you think?
    I say go for it. Worse case scenario is that you may want to return to med/surg if you feel the need to polish your skills. Why spend time on a unit that you do not want to be on?

    Good Luck
  9. by   Drysolong
    Quote from dan.ed
    to rivs; i'd say - go for it.... sure you can learn alot from a year on the med/surg floor, but you'll learn alot in psych, too. a large number of psych pts have medical problems you will be dealing with and learning about; diabetes, cancer, heart problems, respiratory problems, pregnancy, resistant infections, gun shots, self inflicted cuts, overdoses, and many more. ..... and when you are a psych nurse, it is very easy to ask the medical specialty docs who come around to see their patients to explain a little about what they are assessing and why... most medical specialty docs will be glad to give an attentive psych nurse a brief tutorial on what is happening.... you see, psych nurses have the advantage of being able to say to the medical guys/gals , "we may have to send your pt back to the medical floor if we can't care for him here"..... and medical docs hate nothing worse than having a psych pt on their nice calm medical floor.

    if you develope a rapport with a medical doc, you will find that after a while they will start asking for you to take care of their pts on the psych unit...

    good luck with your decision... dan
    iluvsnoopy vbmenu_register("postmenu_1454495", true);
    re: psych nurse right out of school?
    hi.
    i like you wanted to do psych nursing right out of school but i was scared of losing my skills and everyone said to do med-surg first. so i ended up working on a medical floor for 10 months. on the plus side, it did increase my organizational skills and get me some practical experience in dealing with poeple who are "medically ill." it also made me realize that psych is where my heart is and i began looking for a job in psych. i now work on a psycho-geriatric unit & my medical experience helps. i don't regret going to the medical floor, i trusted my gut feeling that i needed to go there but i didn't put a time limit on how long i'd be there. for me it was the right decision. good luck, i'm sure you'll make the right decision for you.


    the two posts above answer one of most "burning desire" questions. i will graduate lpn school in march and plan to go immediately on to rn. i was very interested in psychiatric nursing, but during my clinical rotations, i saw other possible areas of interest. however, my heart and mind keep leading me back to psychiatric nursing. my thing is that i really love bedside nursing of patients and i am afraid that i won't get to do that in mental health. of course as the years pass, i may change my mind because i don't really have nursing experience yet.

    as a psychiatric nurse, do you still perform physical assessments, etc.?

    thanks
  10. by   jubeepepper
    I did some light Med/Surg in the Military, but once out and licensed as a nurse I went straight into Psych and never left. I do not regret it as psych is what I love and know. If its what you are interested in, go for it. I love to tell people, I don't like sick people, I like crazy people. My job is fun
  11. by   Dan.Ed
    to drysolong; I would say that since you are just graduating your lpn program and are going straight into an rn program; that going to med/surg first before psych could be a good choice for you. You will be learning about things that will help you in rn school. Also as an lpn on psych in some hosptials you might be limited to passing meds and not have much pt time. Also in some hospitals as an lpn in medsurg you might have a more flexible schedule, which always comes in handy for an rn student... It's great that you are seriously considering psych. I love it and if you decide to go to psych as an lpn you can still learn alot there, too... dan

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