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Need Help With Post BSN Career Options

by beeanne beeanne (New) New Nurse

Specializes in ICU & Critical Care. Has 4 years experience.

So, first thread here, mostly because at a quick glance around the forums I couldn't find anything recent that gave me an answer.

Apologies in advance, I may have written more than I need to. There's a tl;Dr at the bottom.

I'm currently a part time RN on an ICU floor and I've had three and a half years of experience, mostly critical care (with a few months registry position on med/surg and tele while between two jobs).

The background of all of this: Since the pandemic started, I (like most people, I'm sure) have been sort of standing back and re-evaluating what I really want to do in life. I struggle with mental health issues and have felt stuck in place before (I'm 28 and have never moved out of my parent's house) but obviously with the added quarantine, that feeling has only been growing worse. Last year, I was planning to move out of state by now (I live in IL and got my NJ license and EVERYTHING before everything hit, which is even more frustrating) and then eventually go back to school once I settled into that. Since it seems like I'll be staying in IL for the time being, I figured I should just consider it lucky I still live with my parents and go back to school while I don't have rent to pay - especially considering the hospital I currently work for has it's own nursing school.

When I started nursing, I quickly came to the conclusion that what I really wanted to do to make a difference was focus on and help people with mental and emotional health issues OUTSIDE of psychiatric care (people who are suicidal, depressed, schizophrenic, people who have personality disorders - all of them can get a heart attack, or covid, or require surgery, or need intensive care in some sort of way, and from what I was seeing, not many healthcare professionals knew or cared about how to treat those patients). As someone with a family history of mental illness, who's friend group deals with mental health issues, and who is also neuroatypical and mentally ill themself, I want to stop the people closest to me from experiencing any more difficulty in the healthcare system. I, and almost all of my friends, are also a part of the LBGT community - I'm non binary and bisexual - which was another thing I noticed being overlooked in healthcare (opening way to realizing race, culture, and other minority groups also had struggles in the healthcare world that could lead to trauma or a lack of trust between healthcare worker and patient).

All of that said, I'm not sure how to connect the two points, and I'm struggling to find what I should be looking at when it comes to schooling and choosing specialties. I was considering becoming an NP and caring for the community for a bit in Women's Health or as an FNP before eventually looking into getting a PhD and doing more research work once I felt comfortable enough to say where I think change is needed. I was also considering Forensics, and getting SANE certified, as well, as it also seemed like a blend of clinically treating trauma both physically and mental / emotionally.

Basically, my question is (TL;Dr): I want to work with marginalized patient populations. I want to eventually do research to help better mental health care out of a psychiatric area, but I want to still be mostly on the clinical side for now to understand where needs are. Can someone possibly point me to what I should be looking for in a program, or specialties that would deal directly and primarily with this?