Soon to be BSN graduate...and frustrated

  1. 0
    Hey all,

    I'll be graduating Spring 2014 with my BSN and my bachelor's in psychology. Since before beginning college, I knew I wanted to go into a field that dealt with psychology, and that didn't change once I began my nursing education. But now that I'm having to take my career into serious consideration, I'm starting to wonder if I'm really cut out for psychiatric nursing. So I have a few questions that hopefully some of you can answer...

    What's the burnout rate for this specialty?
    What are wages like? Are they worth it?
    Does a 5'2, 128lb female have any business working in a psychiatric setting?

    If anyone can give me any insight, it would be greatly appreciated.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    Size doesn't matter. It's all about your ability to de escalate and build rapport. You actually sound kinda scared of inpatient psych which isn't really good because they will be able to read that in you. Burnout is high if you don't find the right facility. Acuity tends to be high and staff ratios low. But I can't imagine doing anything else.
  5. 0
    I recommend perusing the facility website and familiarizing yourself with their mission statement, values, motto, etc.
    Read up on your states most important psychiatric laws, such as seclusion, restaraints, emergency medication {mostly IM}, Legal Holds {ie, 5150}, Riese hearings, patient rights, etc. I don't know if you will be asked these things in your interview, but they will be good to know in general and NEED to know for the job.
    Good luck!
  6. 6
    It's v. common to start nursing school sure that you know you want to specialize in XYZ, and find, once you've had some basic experience with it in school, that it's not for you after all. I've taught psychiatric nursing in a few different schools over the years, and, invariably, there were always a few students who were sure they were going to like that specialty best, and a few who really dreaded the rotation and were sure they were going to hate it. Usually, the outcome by the end of the rotation was that most of those students had reversed their original positions -- the people who were sure this was going to be their "thing" found that it was different from what they had expected and they didn't really care for it, and some of the students who had been most sure they were going to hate it ended up liking it. There's nothing wrong with deciding it's not really your thing.

    In terms of your specific questions, I've never observed the burnout to be more or less than other specialties. I have seen a lot of nurses move from another specialty area to psych nursing because they are looking for a less physically active/demanding role and they (mistakenly) perceive psychiatric nursing as "easy." Those people typically don't last, but I don't really consider that "burnout" in the conventional sense. In my experience, the pay is the same as staff nurses on other floors make (or, in the case of freestanding specialty faciliities, competitive/comparable to other staff nursing wages in the community). Outpatient positions tend to pay less than inpatient positions (again, in my experience; your mileage may vary ...). Is the pay "worth it"? That's a v. subjective issue, and would depend on your definition of "worth it." Most of us who are "hardcore" psychiatric nurses would rather go hungry than do other kinds of nursing, so, yeah, it's "worth it." Lots of other nurses wouldn't work in a psych setting no matter how much they got paid for doing so, so they obviously don't feel the same.

    As another poster already noted, size has little to do with anything. I've known plenty of petite individuals who were great psychiatric nurses. The goal is always to prevent situations getting to the stage of a physical altercation, and your therapeutic communication and de-escalation skills are much more important than your height or weight. If things do get physical, you're never alone (or, shouldn't be -- if you are, that's a place you don't want to be working) and always have help.

    Psychiatric nursing and psychology are two entirely different disciplines and practices. Having been interested enough in psychology to get a baccalaureate degree in it doesn't mean you will (or are obligated to ) be interested in psychiatric nursing. Was there something else you experienced in school that you enjoyed more? One of the great things about nursing is that it is, IMO, the ultimate "big tent" -- there are soooooo many different career paths and possibilities (that hardly even resemble each other, except that they all require an RN license), that there is something for everyone.

    Best wishes for your journey!
  7. 0
    Quote from elkpark
    It's v. common to start nursing school sure that you know you want to specialize in XYZ, and find, once you've had some basic experience with it in school, that it's not for you after all. I've taught psychiatric nursing in a few different schools over the years, and, invariably, there were always a few students who were sure they were going to like that specialty best, and a few who really dreaded the rotation and were sure they were going to hate it. Usually, the outcome by the end of the rotation was that most of those students had reversed their original positions -- the people who were sure this was going to be their "thing" found that it was different from what they had expected and they didn't really care for it, and some of the students who had been most sure they were going to hate it ended up liking it. There's nothing wrong with deciding it's not really your thing.

    In terms of your specific questions, I've never observed the burnout to be more or less than other specialties. I have seen a lot of nurses move from another specialty area to psych nursing because they are looking for a less physically active/demanding role and they (mistakenly) perceive psychiatric nursing as "easy." Those people typically don't last, but I don't really consider that "burnout" in the conventional sense. In my experience, the pay is the same as staff nurses on other floors make (or, in the case of freestanding specialty faciliities, competitive/comparable to other staff nursing wages in the community). Outpatient positions tend to pay less than inpatient positions (again, in my experience; your mileage may vary ...). Is the pay "worth it"? That's a v. subjective issue, and would depend on your definition of "worth it." Most of us who are "hardcore" psychiatric nurses would rather go hungry than do other kinds of nursing, so, yeah, it's "worth it." Lots of other nurses wouldn't work in a psych setting no matter how much they got paid for doing so, so they obviously don't feel the same.

    As another poster already noted, size has little to do with anything. I've known plenty of petite individuals who were great psychiatric nurses. The goal is always to prevent situations getting to the stage of a physical altercation, and your therapeutic communication and de-escalation skills are much more important than your height or weight. If things do get physical, you're never alone (or, shouldn't be -- if you are, that's a place you don't want to be working) and always have help.

    Psychiatric nursing and psychology are two entirely different disciplines and practices. Having been interested enough in psychology to get a baccalaureate degree in it doesn't mean you will (or are obligated to ) be interested in psychiatric nursing. Was there something else you experienced in school that you enjoyed more? One of the great things about nursing is that it is, IMO, the ultimate "big tent" -- there are soooooo many different career paths and possibilities (that hardly even resemble each other, except that they all require an RN license), that there is something for everyone.

    Best wishes for your journey!
    I have been thinking about psychiatric nursing. If I may as you what was your path? Did you start as a CNA? Or straight to a BSN program?
  8. 0
    Quote from Paige2014
    Hey all,


    Does a 5'2, 128lb female have any business working in a psychiatric setting?
    I don't understand the point of this question? You'll get assaulted just as quick as someone say who is 6'1 175 lbs. That doesn't matter. However I find that the clients have a different level of respect for the nurse vs the other staff.
  9. 1
    I understand your question. Size doesn't matter . (I worked at my present facility on our most acute hall at 9 months of pregnancy.) We have had patients here who are set off by a staff member's name, their skin color, their gender or for no evident reason at all. Other patients may take to you and immediately trust you for no discernible reason. As others have pointed out, you're ability to verbally de-escalate and remain calm and non threatening to the patients is of much more value. You will also encounter aggressive patients in all areas of nursing, not just inpatient psych so developing these skills will serve you well.

    I agree with elkpark that burnout and pay rate do not appear to be any more or less than other disciplines.

    You will discover once you're working in it whether it's for you or not. It's okay to feel nervous; I think most new grads do regardless of the area of nursing. My best advice to you is trust your instincts! Even after 16 years there are still those moments I feel a bit anxious but I work with an amazing team of people who I know will do all things possible to keep everyone safe.

    Best of luck to you!
    priorities2 likes this.
  10. 0
    Ooops, duplicate post.
  11. 0
    Quote from eplaza
    I have been thinking about psychiatric nursing. If I may as you what was your path? Did you start as a CNA? Or straight to a BSN program?
    (I originally attended a hospital-based diploma school, without any prior healthcare experience. I knew by the time I graduated that I wanted to specialize in psych. Years later, I completed a BSN in order to attend grad school, and have now been a child psych CNS x many years.)
  12. 0
    I also have a degree in psychology because it was my interest. I really doubted my wanting to be a nurse all through nursing school, and then I had my psych rotation and loved it, and everyone else couldn't wait until it was over. I got hired a month ago on a psych unit, and so far its really great. It may be I am in a excellent facility as its a magnet hospital. I'm in florida and my starting pay was more than the med/surg new grads at the local big hospital; I guess they're trying to woo people into psych. I'm still in orientation so I'm crossing my fingers about when orientation is over. From my perspective, its way less stressful than med/surg, but that could partially be because I'm really well suited to it; I'm a calm person and have a lot of life experience with mentally ill people. I tend to calm people, and I'm male, so I guess I don't worry too much about violence. Then again maybe I'm new and naive. Nurses have told me they've been hit. You might try being a mental health tech while in school; its a great way to get to know the facility that may hire you down the road and it can tell you if you like it.


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