Working at State Psych Hospital

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    I have an interview next week for a RN position at a state hospital in Virginia and I am a little nervous and excited. I have spent almost 10 years working med-surg but have always had the desire in the back of my mind to enter psych nursing. Even before I entered nursing school I had a BA in psychology and mental health has been prominent in my life since my older sister was diagnosed with a mental illness when I was a teenager. Even though I did my rotation in nursing school at this facility and enjoyed it, I am still a little nervous. Even though this move makes me a little nervous I really think this is what I want to do. Any advice from nurses who work at state hospitals?
  2. 24 Comments so far...

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    Specifically, what is it that you're nervous about?
    If it's the fact that it's a state hospital, I can relate. In NC, state psych facilities are not fairing so well right now. But I don't know the situation in Virginia.
    As far as psych nursing though, I'd have to say GO FOR IT.
    At heart, I'm still a psych nurse. Did it for 12 years, inpatient and outpatient (but not in a state facility). For the past several months I've worked for a private managed care company and it's a different world. Sadly for me, I don't even get to handle the psych stuff. The stress level is much better, but the 'warm fuzzies' are missing. You know - the things that can sometimes make us feel that we're in the right place.
    Last edit by Mary Dover on Oct 1, '02
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    I guess I have avoided psych nursing because I thought my memories of my sister's illness would impede my effectiveness in helping others with similar conditions. I believe now that this "history" provides me with a perspective that can help families and patients. Not to mention that I always did well in psych in nursing school and not as well in med-surg. It just so happens I ended up working in med-surg due to job availability but never felt it was my niche. I even thought about leaving nursing due to my dissatisfaction. Maybe I also feel nervous about this is because of others opinion of this specialty. I know I shouldn't let it affect me if that is what I want to do but sometimes doubts will creep in and question my decision/goals.
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    State Hospitals NEED good, caring nurses !!! If this is where your heart is, follow it.
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    margnurse, I can relate to everything you last said, but also to jnette that you should follow your heart.
    Someone (a medical nurse) once said to me that she thought psych nurses "march to the beat of a different drummer", but I took that to mean in a good way.
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    margnurse--see if they'll let you shadow or hang out for at least a few hours to see if it "feels" right to you. I can't tell, myself, whether I like something until I've actually been there. Some state hospitals are ok, others are horror shows, believe me, so see how the ward you would be working on feels to you.
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    Well, I had the interview and I feel it went really well. I never had a state interview and had panel of 2 ask formal state questions and then less formal questions. They felt I would be best suited for acute admissions unit. I hope I get the job. I guess the only concern is the budget cuts for the state but the governor states direct patient care jobs won't be affected. Some of the benefits seem really good--esp the educational leave. I may even consider going back to school to get my MSN. I won't know for a couple weeks whether I got it or not. Thanks for everybody's advice.
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    Hope you get the job. Let us know and let us know what it is like
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    Well, I found out last week that I got the job and will start in December. I am really looking forward to it.
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    Congratulations on getting the job! I work on a behavioral unit at a state psychiatric hospital for forensic patients and I dearly love it. I wouldn't do any anything else. I hope you love your new job just as much.


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