Why should I become a Psych RN? - page 2

by bellabarbiegirl 14,620 Views | 21 Comments

Hello! I am graduating soon from nursing school and I want to become a psych RN however I already have a job lined up in a doctor's office. I am extremely interested in psych and truly feel like I can help people more in psych... Read More


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    The only reason I went to nursing school was to become a nurse anesthetist; then I did a few psych rotations and I was hooked. If you suspect this specialty is something you would especially like for some reason (vague, specific, whatever), or that perhaps your innate nature would lend itself to, then you're probably a psych nurse. You'll have people (instructors, experienced nurses) tell you that you need med-surg experience first, but why not delve right into it if you become convinced it's what you want? I truly enjoyed clinicals in psych, and believe in the whole "authentic presence" approach to interpersonal/therapeutic communication. I was hired as a new grad as the FT night nurse on the unit where I did my first psych clinical rotation (at a great hospital with a holistic philosophy of care). I was lucky because jobs were scarce for my graduating class. I didn't expect to be paid more because psych is a specialty, but between the charge, shift, and weekend differentials, then tacking on a few bucks an hour after getting ANCC certified and climbing the clinical ladder, I make about 30-40 % more than if I hadn't bought out my tuition contract to work on my unit. It's been about 4 years and a few kids later, and I'm convinced I have found my calling. I recently started working psych home care per diem as well, which is satisfying and probably the future of nursing/health care. That all being said, if you're not convinced, or start off in psych then change your mind, you'll have some real difficulty when the time comes. I always feel like my experience has been an anomoly because I am a male nurse, but 2 cents is 2 cents. It's such an intriguing, rewarding specialty replete with moments that remind you what it means to be a human being in this world. Good luck.
    shannarini71, dashingdiva, MMaeLPN, and 6 others like this.
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    I like that story...
    PQRSTmammaRN likes this.
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    Thank you so much for all the sincere and thoughtful advice. I can't express how much I appreciate hearing from others who feel drawn to psych as well. I have always been so drawn to psych and even more now the more interact with "psych " patients in my current job now as a medical assistant and after my rotations in school. I feel like I can really make a difference and have more of an impact than a med surge type position. I am planning on applying to a behavioral health hospital that is close to me as soon as I'm licensed. I apologize for the delayed response. I've been studying for the nclex... I take it tomorrow at 8am. Wish me luck I've worked so hard for so long and am so excited to finally be taking it tomorrow. Feels like my whole life has led up to this!
    macfar28 likes this.
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    If psych is your calling, do it. I did psych straight out of school (15 years ago) and while I do sometimes feel at a disadvantage having not done med/surg first, there are always nurses at my facility who did. We all help each other. I know had I spent even 6 months in a med/surg unit out of school (or even now), I would end up being a patient at my facility!!

    Hope the NCLEX went well and best of luck.
    shannarini71 and WantAccel.BSN like this.
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    macfar28 haha I feel the same way! I have a lot of respect for med surge nurses but I am not passionate about it like I am with psych. I need to go where I feel most drawn and that is definitely psych. Thank you for the comment!
    WantAccel.BSN and doomsayer like this.
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    I've enjoyed this thread. I, too am drawn to psych nursing. I did a recent VA rotation in clinical and LOVED it there. I also wonder if I should get some med-surg under my belt so that my options are open if I ever needed to change jobs. However, I am very drawn to this. In psych now, final coming up this week, and I am making better grades than I ever had. I feel like I "get this"- but I am questioning getting other experiences first.
    Any advice?
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    Its interesting been a psychiatric nurse, am also one. I would advice you go for t̲̣̣̥ђε̲̣ exams . Psychistric nursing bring out t̲̣̣̥ђε̲̣ real self in somebody its makes you to understand yourself more and your personality. I wish you t̲̣̣̥ђε̲̣ very best .
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    Just go for it
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    Psych is a great specialty. No two days are alike. Everyone's illness seems to manifest a little bit differently with each individual having their own unique story. I like that I'm always on my toes in the specialty too. It can be a little hectic as well as depressing. In the medical hospital setting, we frequently have to push people through until they are able to be discharged due to the fixed reimbursements based on diagnosis from hospitals. In psych, we really get to know the patient because we want to be sure they are better before being discharged. In a medical hospital, their sentinal events tend to happen in hospital while in mental health, they tend to occur just after discharge(i.e. suicide).
    Furthermore, when digging into nursing theory, you'll find that many of our nursing theorists were heavily influenced by their own experiences with psychiatric clients. A lot of the theoretical basis for their work was built around the foundations of developing relationships with clients that are not always receptive. The deep roots that psych has in the nursing profession is huge.
    It's a great specialty. As you mentioned, the starting pay is not as high. I assure you though that there are plenty of oppurtunities for your income to grow within the specialty. Whether you will eventually end up as an educator for future mental health nurses, a practitioner, or in management, you will love the influences that mental health nursing will give you. Remember, before you can start anticipating fruits, give the seed a chance to grow and flourish first.
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    I graduated last May and went to work on a very busy critical care/telemetry floor. For the most part I loved my job, but when I came home excited about a shift, I found myself most excited about the patient teaching and the connection I made with my patients. I told my husband constantly that I hated that I could not follow up. Did they become depressed after that MI, did they understand the new treatment regime, would more education and support have helped them? ( I LOVED the PSYCH aspect of the job!)

    Shortly after I settled into that position, the Associate Dean of our school called and asked if I was interested in going to Grad School. I began the fall after I graduated, and accepted a position as a TA. As a result, I had to quit my hospital job (here they don't allow you to work part time until you've been licensed for two years).

    While I love my job at the school, I still wanted a clinical job. I had an opportunity to work for a local psych hospital. I had always been drawn to psych, but I'm not going to lie, I left my clinical rotation at this facility.... and CRIED on and off ALL NIGHT LONG. Two thirds of the patients are children, and their stories break my heart. I had to do some soul searching before I accepted the job. Here's what I decided:

    Like many nurses/nursing students I'm a little neurotic, and a complete control freak! I felt like I could really help these kids!! But what could I do during one 8 hour shift a week? Ok... but if I feel like I can help these kids, that I can be a stable supportive person in their lives... then maybe, just maybe, its my responsibility to be there. And if I don't complete trust everyone else to do it, then maybe I don't have a choice!

    I took the job.... I LOVE my job, our facility has its issues, and the new CEO and DON are working to make some changes, but I was made to do this. I am working on my Master's in Nursing Education, and believe that soon after I will work toward an PMHNP certification.

    I know this is long, and I'm sorry for that, but what I mean to say is.... if you feel a calling, at all, give it a shot. These people need help, and not from someone who is just looking for a job, but from someone who can be dedicated to a therapeutic relationship, be supportive, uplifting, teach coping skills, care about their lives and their future. I didn't hate medical/bedside nursing, I wasn't turned off by working the floor, but I very much enjoy psych, and I am excited to be there.

    One thing seems to be very true about psych.... you love it or you hate it. And if you love it, you may never be able to do anything else!! Best of luck to you, congratulations on your graduation!

    I just realized I was signed in under my husband's name :/ Oopsie!
    Last edit by lonestar9918 on Mar 14, '13
    macfar28 and shannarini71 like this.


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