Tell me more about psychiatric nursing...

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    I will be starting my psychiatric nursing rotation next semester. I have *always* been fascinated by psychology and how people "tick." I am constantly assessing everyone around me to understand where people are coming from and why they are acting the way they do. I have had a true passion to counsel people and help them psychologically from a young age. Naturally, I'm wondering if psych. nursing would be a good fit for me...I would love to hear about the typical job responsibilities of an RN in the psych. field (hospital, office, or otherwise). Can you tell me about your experience with it? Also, how likely is it for a new grad get into this field? Would you recommend a new grad for this field?
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    I am a new grad RN and I work on an Assertive Community Treatment team. We work in the community with the sickest of the sick. We take services to the clients. As nurses, we obviously asses, manage meds, do physical assessments on clients and advocate for them with any somatic health needs, but we also do case management with the clients. In that light, we help clients obtain housing, SSDI, budgeting, etc. This is not exactly a new grad position but I love it. I absolutely feel psych is ok for a new grad. The only thing with this is as a new grad, you won't have the instincts to tell if a client is decompensating like a seasoned nurse would. You also don't use the smae clinical skills as you do in med/surg. We do give a lot of IMs though. If you are worried about losing you med/surg skills, I might suggest getting somemed/surg experience. I personally have zero desire to do med/surg. I always knew I wanted to be a psych nurse.
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    TerpGal, this is something that worries me. My educational background is in psychology, and psych nursing has always been my goal, but I'm wondering if I'll be "stuck" if I go into it right away with zero bedside experience. I'm thinking maybe I should also try to work PRN in med/surg or something like that...
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    I always say psych nursing is different. You have to love it to do it. I currently work in the ER as a psych nurse. Some of the responsibilities include, maintaining the milieu on the unit. You deal with lots of psychotic, manic and substance abuse pts on a daily basis. I agree w/ TerpGal02 that there is lots of IM's medications involved. I started my nursing career as a Med Surg nurse then switched to Psych since that's what I wanted to do.
    Med surg is a good starting point.
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    Get some Med surg experience and then switch to Psych. However some nurses have only been psych nurses and do great. Psych is not for everyone. I am glad you love it. Its a different kind of nursing but very rewarding. You will find what works for you.
    Elladora likes this.
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    Quote from illcleff
    Get some Med surg experience and then switch to Psych. However some nurses have only been psych nurses and do great. Psych is not for everyone. I am glad you love it. Its a different kind of nursing but very rewarding. You will find what works for you.
    The way the job market is right now this may not be possible. That was my plan but ended up getting hired straight into psych.
  10. 1
    Quote from emptyboxcars
    I have *always* been fascinated by psychology and how people "tick."

    I would love to hear about the typical job responsibilities of an RN in the psych. field (hospital, office, or otherwise). Can you tell me about your experience with it? Also, how likely is it for a new grad get into this field? Would you recommend a new grad for this field?
    I'm there with you, emptyboxcars. And after 37 years of working with Mentally Handicapped People, with 33 of that being in the Medical Field, I continue to be fascinated by Peoples' Behaviors.

    There is a broad range of areas of Psych Nursing: From Inpatient to Community and Strictly Psych to Medical/Chemical Dependency/Psych. I've done them all, and each has its Pros and Cons, but each can also be exciting, rewarding and fulfilling.

    Currently, I feel as though I'm in the Autumn of My Career. I work predominately in Gero Psych where there's both Medical and Behaviors. I believe I am utilizing a vast amount of knowledge and experience gained. However, I also work with relatively new Grads who find this area challenging. I would heartily recommend this area of Nursing. You have your share of IV's, catheters, feeding tubes, oral, IM and subq medictions along with Direct Care and Grunt Work.

    Good Luck and the very best to you, emptyboxcars.

    Dave
    chevyv likes this.
  11. 3
    I work in a county long term psych unit. Ages range from 20's - 70's. My pts are the one of the most difficult because most cannot function out in the community. I too have always loved psych and can't recall a time when I wasn't walking around with a "come tell my your problems sign" on my back. Now that I've been through nursing school and am working in the field, I am finally learning to take that sign down outside of work.

    I do give a lot of IM's and call Security almost every shift I work. It is never the same day twice and boy what I would give for a boring night!

    I was at first, disappointed to not be able to work med surg for that first year, but I've come to understand that I most likely would have been miserable. I'm looking forward to moving from ltc to acute or venture out into the community. There are many avenues you can walk down in behavioral health. I landed this position right after passing my boards. I had been a CNA for many years and a LPN for a year in regular LTC. I see many new grads with no experience being hired by me now. Let us know how it goes for you and wishing you the best of luck!!
    squidbillies, Elladora, and Davey Do like this.
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    If you can get a year of med/surg first, I would jump on that. Or tele, or ED, or anything medical. While I went straight to psych, I'm working on getting into a jail so I can get some post-fight cleanup work under my belt. I feel unprepared to deal with some aspects of psych because I have no medical nursing experience other than two months as an LTC nurse.

    It's up to you, though. The job market is tight these days. If you can't get some medical first, just get a job. You can always pick up your EMT cert and work a little trauma until you get some wound care experience.
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    The only way that you will know if Psychic is right for you is to do it. counselling people is nice but there is so much more. When you work in Psychic the only tool, so to speak, is yourself. If you don't know what you are doing it can be dangerous. One of my former patients was just convicted of murdering two people because they wouldn't give her money. But hopefully you will have your instructor with you. Just a couple things. The patients will test you. They will try to find out personal information. don't give it to them. Don't tell them your birthday, your age, where you live. Do not promise them anything. such as "Can You help me get cigarettes?" They will try to get into your head. They will lie, cheat, and steal from you. If you have to go into the day room with them, always know where the exists are. Follow the other staff. Just because they have CNA or HST after their names doesn't make them stupid. If they say don't talk to that patient because he is upset today. Don't talk to him. If they tell you to get out of the day room, get out. If they tell you to run, run. If they tell you to fly, fly. Just watch yourself.
    chevyv likes this.


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