Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Psych Patients - page 3

by rn/writer Guide

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Psych Patient? Whenever I tell people I use to be a psych nurse, I usually get one of two reactions. “That’s so interesting—tell me more.” Or, far more often—“Yikes! Psych freaks me out. I... Read More


  1. 0
    Good article. It sounds alot like the speech I give my nursing students at the start of each semester. I'm glad you posted it!
  2. 0
    i have seen this fear of the mentally ill patient in student nurses and my fellow nurse. the preparation for clinical in the psychiatric field in nursing, is focused on safety of the novice and student nurse. this sometimes can be frightening when students are told to always be closest to the wall and door, told by instructors to always travel in pairs, and know where the panic button is located.clinical instruction in psychiatric nursing may need to be reevaluated.


    staff note:
    font and print size change for easier reading.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Feb 21, '12
  3. 1
    I just stumbled across this terrific article! I'm with Miss Elaine- instruction needs to be reevaluated for a lot of people. I had a TERRIFIC Psych instructor who made sure we spent VERY little time at the nurse's station. We were there to help pass meds and and ask a few questions, otherwise, we were out with the patients. I had ZERO interest in Psych when I did the rotation earlier this semester, now I have to say I LOVE it!!! It is second on my list to getting to work in a pediatric area. We had a VERY high acuity rate three of the four days I got to spend there, and it fascinated me to no end to sit and talk with these VERY ill patients. They deserve as much care and attention as everyone does.
    And thinking back to what the author said about looking in the mirror because that's what mentally ill looks like: Our clinical instructor liked to say that we're ALL only a door away from mental illness.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  4. 0
    Quote from kristeyk
    our clinical instructor liked to say that we're all only a door away from mental illness.
    we must have had the same instructor, that's the first sentence that came out of my instructor during my clinical, long ago
  5. 0
    hi i have a question
    do psych hospitals only hire RN nurses
  6. 0
    Also thank you for posting this . Ifound it very helpful
  7. 0
    Quote from Dulce29
    hi i have a question
    do psych hospitals only hire RN nurses
    My hospital uses RNs and PCT (psychiatric care techs). The PCTs (what I am) are unlicensed and do vitals, blood draws, safety checks (continuously circle the unit and make sure you have eyes on every patient every 15 mins to ensure they are safe), handle any 1:1 patients, and do some of the groups. The RNs pass meds, do groups as well, admissions, discharges, care plans, and assess the patients. I can't see any reason to use LPNs at my facility, but another may be different. We also have occupational and recreational therapy that do groups as well as medical students, nursing students, residents, doctors, and nurse practitioners.
  8. 0
    I think the article is excellent, and everything is true. I have always loved Psych nursing and my first hire after graduation was at a state run psych hospital. The state run facilities here are having somewhat of a bad reputation.

    I am note from here originally so I don't have a lot of history as to why that is, but I do know some different situations that happened and although I didn't take the job because I got hired at the hospital on a med/surg unit (I felt I should have med/surg experience before doing anything else),

    I did do a rotation during nursing school at this facility. In retrospect I feel I made the right choice, but I do feel I would have been happier at the psych facility. Everyone here that is associated with this psych facility immediately gets "the look". There is a bad association between the people that work there and the patients...what I mean is that a lot of people have noticed that some of the people who work at this facility seem to be just as "crazy" as the patients. (Yes I know that word is not supposed to be used in regard to the psych setting).

    I had considered applying to this facility last year after 2 years med/surg experience but then I had talked to other people and found out that this facility can force you to stay another shift when they are short (which happens a lot from what I am told). I would not be able to do this as I am a single parent and can't leave my kids for 16 hours.

    Also, while working at the hospital, one of my patients that I had was an RN who had worked at the facility. She had been beaten so badly that she had to be hospitalized and has PTSD now and chronic pain. Apparently this same individual caused a huge amount of financial damage to the E.D. six months before at our facility (the individual who beat the nurse). This is from everyone I worked with at the hospital I worked with as apparently when this nurse got beat up it was big news. (I am not from here originally).

    According to the nurse, (my patient), this individual also had been in the prison but the court determined that he was insane so they put him in to the psych facility. He had killed his wife and 2 children. This situation made me seriously re-examine any thoughts of going in to a major psych facility.

    The facility police are not allowed to carry guns or weapons and everything was on lock-down. By the time the county police arrived this nurse was unconscious and the patient had beaten up 3 aids already. No one would assist or come to the floor to aid this situation and everything was on camera. (Yes this RN has legal proceedings against the facility).

    I also see the training they do and they do not allow you to use force on the patients because of all the horrible things that have happened to psych patients by people who shouldn't be allowed to work with these patients. I feel like the nurse has little power over situations like the one I am mentioning and therefore, you have to consider that every day you go to work you are potentially putting your life at risk.

    This is coming from someone who likes, even loves psych nursing, who is very close to having a degree in Social Work with a minor in Criminal Justice but chose nursing instead. I am not the nursing student who hid in the nurses station at this facility during clinical. In fact, we were not allowed IN the nurses station at all. (We also never saw an RN in this facility that WASN'T in the nurses station).

    The only people we interacted with were the "techs" and the patients themselves. I truly loved this experience, it was my favorite nursing experience other than my internship at a wonderful Hospice facility. BTW, this is the same facility that a patient was on camera, dead in a chair for 1 or 2 days before ANYONE realized he was dead. My feeling are mixed about this area of nursing now. I know I would be excellent at it, but after seeing and hearing these stories in my community I am actually more afraid of it than I ever was. Its a disheartening feeling.
    Last edit by rn/writer on May 17, '12 : Reason: Added paragraphs.
  9. 0
    Great article.
    I have been a nurse for 14 years with experience to include mental health and ICU, and am currently in a PhD in Nursing program. I have witnessed many nurses express their dislike of caring for patients with mental health needs. More patients are admitted with medical problems that exacerbate their mental illness, coexisting medical/mental illness, as well as an increase number of patients with mental illness having to be admitted to the general medical hospital until a mental health facility can open a bed. As a nurse educator, I have experienced difficulty finding mental health facilities for clinical experience for my nursing students. My research area of interest is general medical nurses caring for patients with mental illness. I have heard from some nurses who have said the most care they provide is caring for the medical illness but no treatment for the mental needs unless the patient is violent or demonstrates acting out behavior, they monitor for safety and sometimes have sitters. I would like to know more about your experiences with balancing the care of medical patients and patients with mental health needs.
    Thanks for your help.
  10. 0
    Quote from Dulce29
    hi i have a question
    do psych hospitals only hire RN nurses
    The hospitals I work at use both LVNs and LPTs (licensed psych techs--they can pass meds).


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