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- by Amee200 Feb 15Hello all- I am a 43 year old career changer with 3 children who has a BA in psych but never entered the field. I was a stay at home mom and an assistant to a doctor in a hospital and never been satisfied with my career choices.
So, to finally make the change I've been taking classes for the last 2 1/2 years for counseling as well as nursing (really the pre req's for admission to nursing school). I want to do counseling and work with the mentally ill, particularly children, but cannot make up my mind as to which career to enter, and don't want to waste money on classes that won't count toward a degree (being an RN/BSN or master's in counseling psychology).
One thing I do know is that as an RN finding a job would never be an issue (especially I;ve heard as a psych RN) and they make more money than LMHC's. My main fear is the med/surg aspect of nursing. I am terrified of it and only want to do psych. I understand you need to be well rounded and feel I would be able to grasp necessary knowledge, but don't know that my personality would be a good fit. I am soft spoken to some degree and sensitive, but also direct and calm and collected in times of crisis. I'm not saying you can't be low key and be a good nurse, but it seems that both careers require different personality types and I'm not sure which one would be the better fit. Nursing is still a draw as it seems so interesting not to mention marketable and slightly more lucrative. On the other hand, in counseling I may have more direct client contact and less acute/crisis situations. As a whole it does seem nurses may garner more respect in the field thsn counselors even at a master's level but that could be my own bias. At the age of 43 I think I need to be more practical in my choice since going to school with 3 children is a big commitment...I am an INTP if that is any help to anyone who can offer advice
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- Feb 16 by beckycowellHi :-) being soft spoken and calm is not a bad quality to have when dealing with challenging situations I never used to say boo to a goose however now I can be firm and direct when I need to be I qualified as a mental health nurse in 2010 and am now a deputy nurse manager I love what I do and would never change it for the world :-) good luck
- Feb 16 by WannaBeNrseHi there
I'm an INFP ;-) I actually found myself in the same dilemma when I decided to go back to school six years ago. I was always drawn to psychology and/or social work - but with two little kids at home, I didn't think investing the time and money and energy it takes to earn a Master's in those fields (since a Bachelor's doesn't really get you anywhere) was really worth it.... so I decided on nursing, with the goal to become a psych nurse. It was the best decision I've ever made.
I'm not gonna lie- nursing school made me step out of my comfort zone more than once. I excelled academically, but clinicals were a real struggle for me, especially simulations of crisis situations (cardiac arrests, mass accidents etc), because I am not a think-on-your-feet-and take-charge kind of person. But I got through it. I put in a year on med/surg after I got my license just to get the basic experience, and then got a job in psych. I feel like I am exactly where I need to be now - I enjoy going to work and have a good career. Crisis situations are still difficult for me - we just had a code green (behavioral emergency) last night - but luckily, they don't happen very often, and also, you are never alone in those situations. It truly requires team work.
Since you already have the BA in psychology, it wouldn't take you as long to get your Master's in counselling as it would have taken me - so I think this is also a good option for you, and there is a need for mental health professionals across the board. But I also believe you won't go wrong with nursing - it's an amazing profession and will give you a wide variety of options, even if you choose to never, ever work med/surg. I know it's difficult to make those kinds of decisions, especially when you have a family to consider and want to make the most of your time/money. But I honestly think it's a win/win situation for you, whichever route you choose, you will do well, you will help a lot of people, and gain some personal growth along the way as well.
- Feb 16 by lmb1248I know exactly how you feel. Going in to nursing school all I wanted to do was psych. I had no real passion for med/surg. I was interested in ICU/ER, I think it was the emergency aspect of it. I did well through school, but did not enjoy most rotations b/c it wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a psych nurse to help the mental aspect of things. I think my calling was always more counseling than nursing, and mental health nursing was the closest thing. I networked during my psych rotation and did my preceptorship at a mental hospital. I started there last week as a RN. You don't get to do as much counseling as I feel you would want. I think something you would be interested in would be mental health counselor. A good friend of mine is a mental health counselor and she loves it. She as a masters and is about to open her own practice. You can specialize in children and work at a psych hospital, open your own office, work at schools, prisons, or private practices. You have a lot of options.
- Feb 16 by PsychcnsQuote from lmb1248I have a BA in psych and considered many options before going for my RN. I went for my BSN and then my Psych APRN. I really liked science and I think that is why I didn't go straight for counseling. I didn't like med-surg, loved impatient psych. So now I work as a psych APRN , do diagnostic evals, prescribe and monitor medications, and do as much counseling as I can. I guess ideally I would do a mix of meds and counseling. Possible in the VA system..I now only do locums and med management is what is needed..I know exactly how you feel. Going in to nursing school all I wanted to do was psych. I had no real passion for med/surg. I was interested in ICU/ER, I think it was the emergency aspect of it. I did well through school, but did not enjoy most rotations b/c it wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a psych nurse to help the mental aspect of things. I think my calling was always more counseling than nursing, and mental health nursing was the closest thing. I networked during my psych rotation and did my preceptorship at a mental hospital. I started there last week as a RN. You don't get to do as much counseling as I feel you would want. I think something you would be interested in would be mental health counselor. A good friend of mine is a mental health counselor and she loves it. She as a masters and is about to open her own practice. You can specialize in children and work at a psych hospital, open your own office, work at schools, prisons, or private practices. You have a lot of options.
- Feb 26 by Amee200Thank you all for the great advice. I think what I'm realizing is that if I were younger (with the drive that I should have had but that is another story), I would suck it up and go for the psych nursing, because I also have an interest in the meds along with the counseling part. That being said, with a family and a part time job, the MA in counseling would be a better fit. I have it in my head that although an LMHC is respected, they tend to be at the bottom of the chain in the mental health field where salary and job opportunities are concerned. At least I guess that's how I see it- i have an APRN and an MD as in laws, and have so much respect for the nurse. But I know a counselor can have a varied and successful career too, I think it is the individual, not the license and have to remind myself to see it that way. A friend in the field thought I would do well in the field but would have a hard time in school without the proper support system. At this point, that is probably what the final decision should be based on!