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Jobs for nursing students interested in psych nursing

I graduated with a BA in English a little over a year ago, but I have since decided that I want to do something in mental health. I was accepted and almost started a mental health counseling program but quickly became discouraged by program after learning more about its length and sub-par pay.

Now, I'm shooting for becoming a PMHNP, eventually. I plan to enroll into an ADN program next fall and then become a psych nurse shortly thereafter. And then apply to PMHNP programs in my state, Texas.

What would be some good jobs I could do part-time while completing my prereqs and through nursing school which would help build general nursing skills but also relevant experience for the psychiatric specialty?

There is a CNA program this fall that I am considering, but I was wondering if there are other opportunities available without a certificate which would provide as much experience for preferably more pay. CNAs in my area only make minimum wage up-to $10/hour.

Thanks, everyone! Sorry if I got too wordy, this is my first post


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

Welcome to AN!

Look into what's required in your state to be a psych tech. That would be your best bet right there. You may also be able to find volunteer opportunities, as there are a zillion non-profit psych resources out there, and they always need help. It would look fabulous on a job application and nursing school app, too!

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

I believe that Tx is one of the 46 states that require psych techs to be certified... the other 4 require licensing. You can take psych tech courses at for-profit/vocational schools or community colleges. The CC courses result in an AS so they probably take 4 semesters; I don't know how long the other programs are. But this is not a 'quick and easy' route to a part time job.

Entry level health care jobs have very low salaries... lower than most fast-food jobs.

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health.

Try putting in "psych tech" "Mental health tech" "Mental health worker" into a job search site. Most of those jobs only need a high school diploma and/or CNA and are good jobs to test the water.

Natasha, CNA, LVN

Specializes in Psych.

I've been a mental health worker since july 2009 at the same job and I got hired with no experience but had a cna certificate. Look into nights or weekend shifts. It is great to have psych experience on your resume. Also, get your MAB certificate. Some psych hopsitals require you to have that.

There might be opportunities with community outreach programs that have those with mental disorders as their primary patient population, e.g. those that ensure medication administration compliance in the outpatient setting.

Look at the mental health non profits in your area. Where I work, there is a lot available in terms of Psych tech positions.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Try looking for psych tech, mental health tech, behavioral health teach, and residential caregiver positions in your area and what the requirements are for them. The agency I work for operates a handful of Assisted Living / Boarding Homes for mentally ill clients. I work as a CNA - "Residental Caregiver" in one of their homes. It's been a great introduction to working in community mental health with lots of exposure to both the medical and mental side of care. The salary is low but entry level anything is low where I live and my focus is on building skills and educating myself in a future career path outside of school so I won't complain.

windsurfer8, BSN

Specializes in Psych/Military Nursing.

I have been a psych nurse since 2009. I was ER before psych. You may want to slow down a little and just focus on getting a nursing degree. If you REALLY want to be a psych nurse then you will acquire the skills with school, clinicals, and when you are working. Being a psych nurse is much more demanding than people think and I have been physically attacked multiple times. You are dealing with hardcore psychiatric illnesses. If you become an RN you will get to work in different areas to see if psych is actually what you want to do. You get to do clinicals in multiple area during school. I know many people decide once they do a few clinicals on a psych ward...ummm thanks but no thanks.


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