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Getting a job as a new psych RN? Pay?

Psychiatric   (24,361 Views 14 Comments)
by PSYCHEE PSYCHEE (New Member) New Member

PSYCHEE has 3 years experience and specializes in Psychiatric, Geriatric.

2,116 Visitors; 23 Posts

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Hello! I'm not quite graduated yet but I'm well on my way through my prereq's to an RN program. I've been hearing a lot of discouraging things on this forum lately about new grads, but I was wondering if it was any different in psych.

How hard is it to get a job as a new RN in psych? Is it as bad as people make it out to be?

What's the pay for an RN [new or otherwise] in psych? I live in Florida, so I know it's bound to be a little less due to the cost of living being less..

Thanks to anyone for your help/advice. :)

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JettRNurse has 2 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, Psych.

1,485 Visitors; 25 Posts

You are jumping the gun a little bit. You are not quite graduated yet, but are still working on your pre reqs... Sounds like you have a couple years left. The things you have heard about finding jobs as a new grad right now will probably not be a problem when you finish school in 2 or so years. The economy right now has caused a lot of nurses that would be retiring to not retire, and hospitals are cutting new grad programs in attempt to save money to not have to staff 2 RN's to a single patient load during training. As for Psych, I am a new grad, and just finished my 4th day on the job at a lock in behavioral health center. I won't lie, I absolutely LOVE my job so far. I wasn't planning on going into psych, was more interested in ER/ICU type things. Psych is a great place to learn valuable people skills, and how to deal with intense situations. A background in psych will surely serve you in whatever line of work you take your nursing career in the future. The pay is less than most places, but there is often a good opportunity for overtime, which you can really make bank doing. I am in the northern california area, so pay is a bit higher than most other places. I was started at $36.70 hourly, with a +3 dollar PM differential, so it comes out to 39.79 hourly. If you work a double, (16 hour shift) you make 1.5x pay for the first 4 hours of the second shift, and 2x pay in the last 4 hours of the shift. I hope this helps, and good luck with nursing school!

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PSYCHEE has 3 years experience and specializes in Psychiatric, Geriatric.

2,116 Visitors; 23 Posts

I know I'm asking a little early, but I figured I would at least put it out there so I could see any increase/decrease. I should be graduating depending on if my program lets me study through the summer or not in a year and a 1/2 or a little over that... I didn't just start taking prereq's or anything. :p

The pay sounds great! I know not to expect that much, though. I'm glad you like your job too. Why did you decide to work in psych if you wanted to work in a more medical area? I can never imagine staying in med very long... [though I might do a year or so in something more medical just in case my ward ever closes when I get into psych and can't find a job.] Don't get me wrong, I love medicine, but psych has always been my passion.

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JettRNurse has 2 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, Psych.

1,485 Visitors; 25 Posts

The job market in the greater Northern California area is really tough right now for new grads. Being the highest paying area for nursing, with the recession as it is, any job is a blessing. Psych wasn't my first choice, but I am super happy to have my job. I liked Psych in school, and I gots bills to pay. I have found my job super rewarding so far, and I love hearing interesting stories. Older nurses aren't retiring, because their 401k's just got nailed, and it costs hospitals quite a bit of money to train new grads, instead of hiring new nurses. I probably won't stay in Psych forever, but who knows?

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PSYCHEE has 3 years experience and specializes in Psychiatric, Geriatric.

2,116 Visitors; 23 Posts

Yes, I suppose that's true. If I couldn't find a job in psych and it came down to it I would have to look somewhere else of course. I guess I assumed psych would be more in demand because not everyone likes to deal with the "crazies" like I do. [Not that I actually think that, most people are just afraid of mentally ill people to some extent at least.]

Does anyone know how long the older nurses not retiring thing is going to last? Or is it just a wait-out-the-recovery of the economy thing?

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1,528 Visitors; 35 Posts

You are jumping the gun a little bit. You are not quite graduated yet, but are still working on your pre reqs... Sounds like you have a couple years left. The things you have heard about finding jobs as a new grad right now will probably not be a problem when you finish school in 2 or so years. The economy right now has caused a lot of nurses that would be retiring to not retire, and hospitals are cutting new grad programs in attempt to save money to not have to staff 2 RN's to a single patient load during training. As for Psych, I am a new grad, and just finished my 4th day on the job at a lock in behavioral health center. I won't lie, I absolutely LOVE my job so far. I wasn't planning on going into psych, was more interested in ER/ICU type things. Psych is a great place to learn valuable people skills, and how to deal with intense situations. A background in psych will surely serve you in whatever line of work you take your nursing career in the future. The pay is less than most places, but there is often a good opportunity for overtime, which you can really make bank doing. I am in the northern california area, so pay is a bit higher than most other places. I was started at $36.70 hourly, with a +3 dollar PM differential, so it comes out to 39.79 hourly. If you work a double, (16 hour shift) you make 1.5x pay for the first 4 hours of the second shift, and 2x pay in the last 4 hours of the shift. I hope this helps, and good luck with nursing school!

I know this is an older post, but thought I would give it a shot anyway:) I have previously worked as an EMT and in an ER as a tech. I just finished nursing school last month. I have ALWAYS wanted to be an ER nurse and was even considering ICU. Problem is that I did not get any job offers in the ER/ICU. So, I have just accepted a position in MH...I don't mind mental health at all, I've even had experience in MH in my previous jobs. Bottom line is I need a job, I've got bills to pay. My worry is that if I ever want to transition to ER...will I be able to?? Will I have a super difficult time trying to get a job? I figure that at least I'm getting nursing experience rather than sitting around waiting for the 'perfect' job. Maybe I'll end up loving MH so much and stay? Who knows? I'm just worried...

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JettRNurse has 2 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, Psych.

1,485 Visitors; 25 Posts

I haven't been on these forums probably since I last posted here, but the handy email alert made it easy to find this post. It sounds like you are in a very similar situation that I was in, as I took a job in MH because I needed to pay the bills. I have since started working on a telemetry floor, at the same hospital that owned the mental health unit I was working on. I am looking to transfer into an ER position, probably at a different unaffiliated hospital, once I have finished working at my current job for a year. I think you should take whatever job you can get, there will always be opportunities to move laterally down the road. I still strongly believe that my starting in psych has really helped me develop my people skills, and made my job so much easier all the way around when it comes to dealing with difficult patients, and difficult families. Sheesh, a lot of times even helps when dealing with difficult coworkers, and physicians!

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1,528 Visitors; 35 Posts

I haven't been on these forums probably since I last posted here, but the handy email alert made it easy to find this post. It sounds like you are in a very similar situation that I was in, as I took a job in MH because I needed to pay the bills. I have since started working on a telemetry floor, at the same hospital that owned the mental health unit I was working on. I am looking to transfer into an ER position, probably at a different unaffiliated hospital, once I have finished working at my current job for a year. I think you should take whatever job you can get, there will always be opportunities to move laterally down the road. I still strongly believe that my starting in psych has really helped me develop my people skills, and made my job so much easier all the way around when it comes to dealing with difficult patients, and difficult families. Sheesh, a lot of times even helps when dealing with difficult coworkers, and physicians!

Thanks for the reply:) This makes me feel much better.

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14,582 Visitors; 1,061 Posts

My worry is that if I ever want to transition to ER...will I be able to?? Will I have a super difficult time trying to get a job? I figure that at least I'm getting nursing experience rather than sitting around waiting for the 'perfect' job. Maybe I'll end up loving MH so much and stay? Who knows? I'm just worried...

Why is that an issue? There are lots of psychiatric crisis situations which present to

the ER and you will have inpatient psych experience. While you are working MH, you can

take courses/certifications needed for ER so if a job presents you will be an attractive candidate.

Seems to me, you are in a good situation right now.

And if you stay in MH, that is a job that could open other options for you.

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NPvampire has 11 years experience and specializes in psych, geriatrics.

3,288 Visitors; 164 Posts

We just had a gal that worked in our hospital for a year get a job learning L&D (her dream) at a very reputable hospital. So I wouldn't worry about transferring; some employers just want to see paid experience and trustworthiness.

Here in GA start-out pay can be very low 37,000 for 40-hour week or the highest I've seen is 27.65 base with no benefits either. Yes, this is in Atlanta or suburbs. It's very discouraging. I see 39.65 and DROOL! There's nothing special in GA about working 16 hour shifts, unless you are going over 40 hours per week total and then it's only 1.5 times money. Bleah.

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1,476 Visitors; 19 Posts

We just had a gal that worked in our hospital for a year get a job learning L&D (her dream) at a very reputable hospital. So I wouldn't worry about transferring; some employers just want to see paid experience and trustworthiness.

Here in GA start-out pay can be very low 37,000 for 40-hour week or the highest I've seen is 27.65 base with no benefits either. Yes, this is in Atlanta or suburbs. It's very discouraging. I see 39.65 and DROOL! There's nothing special in GA about working 16 hour shifts, unless you are going over 40 hours per week total and then it's only 1.5 times money. Bleah.

Hello I live in GA and was wondering what would I expect as a New Grad Psych nurse @ a state hospital....? Thanks!

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NPvampire has 11 years experience and specializes in psych, geriatrics.

3,288 Visitors; 164 Posts

It depends on the hospital. I think Atlanta state hosp. starts their brand new grads at 25 (for BSN in 2006 anyway) but the more rural state hospitals are more like 18-19ish (current). Benefits are the same no matter what hospital, I think it's 5 hours per pay period (every 15th and last day of month) of vacation and 5 hours sick time. Plus 10 holidays per year. The holidays are NOT double-time. If you work on a holiday, you get paid straight time and get a paid day off later (also straight time).

The shift diff is a % of your base, I think it's 13% for 2nd or 3rd shift and another 5% for weekends. And they require 40 hour workweeks, if you have benefits. I think, if the hospital even accepts PRN/part-time workers, it's like 25-28$ FLAT rate depending on the hospital. No benefits though.

Some of the hospitals have a special weekend program where you work 12's but there's no benefits and I'm not sure what the pay difference is. It's considered part-time/PRN, not full-time.

If you're looking for a place to learn, the state is great for that. One thing about the state hospitals, though, is that they rotate a "must stay cause you're on-call" schedule. If a nurse doesn't come in to work their shift, or they are short, if you're on call, you stay and work 16 hours. And you are still expected to show up the next day. They either compensate you via overtime, or more often, a paid day off to use later. This applies mostly to full-time staff.

In spite of all this, I still cry about the closure of our state hospitals. And I plan, hope, to work for the state system in some form as an NP someday.

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