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Getting a Psych Nurse Job After Graduation

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Hi, I'm currently a nursing student and absolutely loving it. After working in a psych hospital as a tech for 2 years, I've discovered that my passion is indeed psych. I was wondering if this is a specialty I can dive right into after I finish school. Is it hard to get a psych nursing job as a new grad? I'm seeking all the advice you can give me! 🙂

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

No, not particularly difficult to get into as a new grad particularly if you have psych tech experience. Just make sure you start out in a place that provides some support/has reasonable expectations for new grad, and is a safe environment.

Cascadia57, BSN

Specializes in Psych. Has 2 years experience.

On 6/30/2020 at 12:33 PM, alissaburke said:

Hi, I'm currently a nursing student and absolutely loving it. After working in a psych hospital as a tech for 2 years, I've discovered that my passion is indeed psych. I was wondering if this is a specialty I can dive right into after I finish school. Is it hard to get a psych nursing job as a new grad? I'm seeking all the advice you can give me! 🙂

I’m a new grad and got hired for an inpatient psych residency that I’m about to start. It was the only one I saw open in my area though. It is possible, but probably not as many positions available as some other specialities.

The0Walrus, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 2 years experience.

A year ago I honestly didn't want psych nursing. I freaked out after hearing that since I'm a new nurse nobody will hire me. When I applied to all the ER's nobody called back. I began to apply anywhere to get a job in general and the first place to call me was at the inpatient psych unit. A month later everyone called for job offers and I was so annoyed. I ended up staying in the psych unit because I didn't want to quit after 1 month of getting the job. It was the state hospital and they gave me a pension which to me is huge. Nobody gives pensions anymore so I stayed. I'm not completely into psych nursing and I have recently gotten jobs at an ER. They love me since I have all this psych experience so they stick me in crisis several times.

My point is it's not difficult to get a job in the psych unit really. I have learned that there's a need in psych nursing at least in my state (NJ).

BeenThere2012, ASN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

On 7/5/2020 at 8:38 PM, The0Walrus said:

A year ago I honestly didn't want psych nursing. I freaked out after hearing that since I'm a new nurse nobody will hire me. When I applied to all the ER's nobody called back. I began to apply anywhere to get a job in general and the first place to call me was at the inpatient psych unit. A month later everyone called for job offers and I was so annoyed. I ended up staying in the psych unit because I didn't want to quit after 1 month of getting the job. It was the state hospital and they gave me a pension which to me is huge. Nobody gives pensions anymore so I stayed. I'm not completely into psych nursing and I have recently gotten jobs at an ER. They love me since I have all this psych experience so they stick me in crisis several times.

My point is it's not difficult to get a job in the psych unit really. I have learned that there's a need in psych nursing at least in my state (NJ).

In CA, not hard to get a psych position but be careful which hospital you choose. Some will take any and all because of high turnover and constant short staffing. Many on our staff started as new grads. It can be good experience before you move on to better, but difficult as you may be exposed to sub optimal care and will need to keep this in mind as you learn.

Some hospitals provide psych/medical units where it’s a little of both.

In my experience working in Critical Care/trauma, M/S etc, the psych departments are the first to be cut for financial reasons and Mental Health is so poorly funded in general. What we can offer these patients is so little and often too late for true help. It is a revolving door of poor compliance, chronic illness leading to a huge homeless population, drug addiction, etc...Families often have “given up” and the patients have so little support. In my hospital, most are on public assistance of some sort. Read: Not profitable for hospitals.

The specialty for nurses is a true act of kindness and compassion. You do the best you can with what you have to offer. There certainly are times when you truly make a difference in someone’s life, even if temporary!

The0Walrus, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 2 years experience.

On 7/8/2020 at 10:53 AM, BeenThere2012 said:

the psych departments are the first to be cut for financial reasons and Mental Health is so poorly funded in general.

That's so weird. Why are Psych NPs so highly paid then? I mean I've been told it's due to the shortage of Psych NPs, but if they're so poorly funded how are Psych NPs paid so highly?

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

I was also a psych tech for ~2 years while I was in school for my BSN. It was easy to get a psych nursing job. I landed an inpatient job within a month after I passed NCLEX. But I agree with BeenThere...be very careful about the hospital you choose to work. Ask about orientation, staffing ratios, and whether there's security. There are some very unsafe psych hospitals out there.

Edited by umbdude

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

6 hours ago, The0Walrus said:

That's so weird. Why are Psych NPs so highly paid then? I mean I've been told it's due to the shortage of Psych NPs, but if they're so poorly funded how are Psych NPs paid so highly?

That won't be for long since everyone and their grandmother's cats are getting their PMHNP from 100% online programs.

JimRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 8 years experience.

On 7/10/2020 at 4:06 AM, The0Walrus said:

That's so weird. Why are Psych NPs so highly paid then? I mean I've been told it's due to the shortage of Psych NPs, but if they're so poorly funded how are Psych NPs paid so highly?

Because they still get paid 1/3 of what a psychiatrist does.

At any rate, if you're willing to work nights, you'll find a Psych RN job. At least where I am, there're are plenty of psych RN jobs. Hell, they're offering up to $10K bonuses at times.

Orca, ASN, RN

Specializes in Corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 26 years experience.

I went straight into psychiatric nursing out of school. I had a bachelor's degree in psychology before becoming an RN, which may have given me an edge. I was hired for a new unit at a hospital that had never offered mental health services before, and I literally opened the unit that I worked on, taking in the first admission that they ever got. It was an experience - I got my license, and a week later I had people looking to me for direction.

Loli87, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych/ER/Correctional nursing. Has 2 years experience.

I guess it depends on where you live. I live down south and psych facilities came to my college to recruit new grads... I love psych as well and hope you land the job of your dreams. It's such a rewarding field.