We also wore street clothes with just a name tag. I found it very slow paced. Often the clients could take stimulation in only small doses, so you'd chat with someone x5 minutes, then need to leave them alone x2-3 hours. Especially if we were assigned only one pt, there was a lot of down time, though we could always chat in the day room with another pt who wasn't our own. By the end of the rotation we were assigned 2-3 pts/day.
It was a lock-down unit, but the pts were more sad than scary (though a few were a bit scary--but we were generally not assigned those). If the pt required it, we did do medical procedures: VS when required for certain meds, dressing changes (self-mutilator), injections (for migraine or whatever), feeding and personal care (catonic or manic). We shadowed the med nurse but did not dispense daily meds. Spent one day in the ED with the crisis intervention team, and a couple of days at a partial-hospitalization plan (sort of a step-down unit from the locked unit). Attended AA and NAMI (national alliance for the mentally ill) meetings.
We were required to lead one group, which most of us, while very nervous, actually found was fun.
Big emphasis on therapeutic communication, with a process recording due every day. Generally a lot of paperwork; I did about 15 pages typed every week. Some of the pts could be on 10-15 different meds and we did the same kind of clinical planning we would do on a med-surg unit.
I worried a lot about his rotation and really didn't feel psych was my cup of tea. It helped me to keep in mind that I wasn't there to be anyone's mini-analyst; I was there to help my pt get through one more day by either letting him vent about his problems, or helping distract him from his problems. It wasn't my favorite rotation, but, as others have said, go in with an open mind, go in prepared, and you'll do fine!