I agree with all the above posters. I was lucky enough to be a CNA in a hospital when I became an RN. Resultantly, I easily & luckily got a job there. It was a med-surg floor in a big hospital. We dealt with pts from 20->100 , predominantly geriatric. In this pt population I cared for plenty of pts with medical problems who also had anxiety attacks, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, etc. While we concentrated mainly on the medical issues, we also had to deal with the psychiatric issues. It is challenging but I really enjoy it!
Good luck in your future endeavors & do whatever is right for you. While I do recommend a med-surg job initially, take a good psych job if you have the opportunity. The job market is pretty tight in a lot of places currently.
I recently moved to another state and "fell" into great job at a small geri-psych hospital. I have worked there only a very short time but I love it. The fact that I work with a great group of people & not back-biting gossipers makes a world of difference. I feel my previous experience in med-surg has given a solid foundation upon which to build in dealing with this pt population, & has also allowed me to hone & utilize my nursing skills. Learning to practice therapeutic communication with psychiatric pts is a special nursing skill all it's own. It is however a whole different world from med-surg. I have learned to become more relaxed & not let my anxiety or fear show as they transfer onto the pt. I have not had an opportunity to deal with the more manipulative type of pts in the geriatric population, but I certainly did in clinicals.
As previous posters stated, you always have to keep your guard up, be aware, be assertive, be confident, don't ever give personal info to pts. Tell them, " I am here to focus on you & to help you." Develop a thick skin. Always leave an escape route for yourself when dealing with a pt. I have given more IM injections here in a week than 4 years on a med-surg floor, excluding flu shots. It has been a real learning experience.
At this hospital I am responsible for staffing, giving meds, doing staffing with another nurse, communicating with drs, taking orders,assessing pts, dealing with behavioral problems, assessing pts, dealing with families & much more.