Brad, I can sympathize. Hated my Psych rotation but loved my Psych professor. She was a Goddess of Common Sense which, it seemed to me, was really what Psych was supposed to be all about. I never studied for an exam and I got the highest grades in the class-- literally the only class in nursing school where my underachiever (read: lazy) tendencies served me well!
So the theory was easy for me. Practice was a little harder. At the end of my rotation in an acute VA unit my instructor told me kindly, "You need more practice working with acutely psychotic patients. You're a little too... logical for them."
Which was true. I never thought I was the kind of nurse who had Rescue Fantasies, but her remark made me face up to the fact that my mindset towards all acutely psychotic patients was that they couldn't possibly
think they were being controlled by aliens from outer space, and if I just explained it better I could make
them understand. It was just a matter of dragging them into the sunlight of Good Mental Health with the sheer force of my logic. Except, um, no, it doesn't work that way.
I found that I used my psych skills a LOT more in my community health rotation than I ever did in Psych. Ever heard a cop say that the most dangerous calls they go on are domestic violence calls? Same deal with comm. health nursing. Visiting dysfunctional families with violent histories in their own homes, where they feel safe and you don't, is a golden opportunity to use every iota of Psych knowledge you possess to negotiate the minefields and come through unscathed. I'm positive that my instincts based on my Psych background of the previous semester kept me safe and unharmed on more than one occasion.
As far as working with short-term hospitalized patients, I always remember something my critical-care preceptor told me: "You can't go about tearing down a person's defense mechanism unless you've got the time and the ability to help him rebuild something to replace it." You may recognize that a patient is angry, depressed, manipulative, etc., but you're not going to "fix" the problem in a 3-day stay. I think the important thing is to identify the problem/behavior, and figure out how, or if you need to, address it from a behavioral or care standpoint while you're caring for them. Just identifying the problem can help YOU feel less frustrated.
On another pragmatic note, you need Psych to pass the boards. I swear my boards were about 1/3 Psych questions.
Did that help at all?