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Not a real nurse?

Psychiatric   (12,441 Views 34 Comments)
by Iris34 Iris34 (New Member) New Member

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I have been a psychiatric nurse for about 5 years, I have worked on acute inpatient floors, I have worked on the crisis unit, I have also worked geriatric psych for a while. I went to the hospital last night with my sister who is giving birth. My sister told the nurse that I am a nurse too. The L&D nurse asked what kind of nurse I am and I said psych nurse. She said "oh". She walked to the nurse's station and came back about a half hour later. She jokingly said that she told the other nurses at the nurse's station that I am a psych nurse and they said "oh that's not a real nurse". I was offended. This is not the first time that other nurses have said that to me. I don't understand. I have gone through the same schooling as them, I have my bachelors degree and I'm going for my masters. Why do they say that? I got so angry but didn't want to say anything because she is my sister's L&D nurse. Has anyone ever had that said to them?

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Whispera is a MSN, RN and specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

27,917 Visitors; 3,458 Posts

No one has said it directly to me, but I've heard about other people saying it. I've also heard that people become psych nurses when they can't do anything else.

Just as our patients are disrespected, SOMETIMES, so are we. However, it doesn't matter what those disrespectful people think. We know the truth. We have a skill set, just as they have a skill set. Ours is just different than theirs, but no less valuable.

Try not to let those attitudes get to you...

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1,182 Visitors; 13 Posts

funny saying that, when one of my pre-requisite course teachers asked what are majors are, i said nursing along with two other students in our class, but i didn't just say nurse, i said "psychiatric nurse", since then, when she is relating the course assignments with nurses, she calls out on the two other girls, and doesn't recognize me at all...weird. I just let it roll off my back, but now I guess I see why they act like that. Kinda sad...

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BrewerRN has 19 years experience and specializes in Pediatrics, Lactation, Case Management.

2,509 Visitors; 75 Posts

If it makes you feel any better...I get the same thing because I choose to be a public health nurse. I have been in nursing for almost 19 years and I have put my time in on nights, weekends, holidays, etc. Now, at this time in my life, case management fits with my lifestyle better. I like having weekends off, holidays with MY family and leaving work at 5 PM everyday. That does not make me any less of a nurse. I just do a different type of nursing, just as you. Hold your head high. Forget those ignorant people!!

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17 Articles; 31,154 Visitors; 4,167 Posts

Here's a good comeback. "If I didn't do psych nursing, you might have to." Then just smile and say nothing.

I have no patience for those who diminish and demean their peers, whatever their specialty. To rattle someone's cage over whether or not they're real enough to be called a nurse is a sad and foolish waste of time. And it invites non-nurses to follow the bad example and disrespect our profession.

If you have the education and the license, you're a real nurse. And that's that!

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13,279 Visitors; 2,801 Posts

It's touchy issue. What is meant by "real"? Usually, what's often meant by "real nurse" is someone responsible for direct care of medically unstable patients (or patients prone to becoming unstable, such as having procedures, in labor, etc).

It's not that another kind of nurse is "just pretending" to be a nurse; they just have such a different skill set that doesn't fit many nurses' self-concept as a nurse. So "real" in that context means "different than" *their concept* of nurse as opposed to "pretender".

I think that it would be good for the profession of nursing to more clearly designate the unique specialization of acute care/medical nursing in relation to the wider general field of nursing practice. It would clear up a lot of confusion and misunderstandings both within the field ("real nurse") and for those looking in ("the position requires an RN, so any RN can do it, right?")

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17 Articles; 31,154 Visitors; 4,167 Posts

I think that it would be good for the profession of nursing to more clearly designate the unique specialization of acute care/medical nursing in relation to the wider general field of nursing practice. It would clear up a lot of confusion and misunderstandings both within the field ("real nurse") and for those looking in ("the position requires an RN, so any RN can do it, right?")

"the position requires an RN, so any RN can do it, right?"

There are people who say that about psych nursing and clinic nursing and case management and all of the other specialty areas that are easy to dismiss as not being "real."

Nurses can earn certification in their field to show that they have reached a certain level of professional distinction. But to create a official divide between acute care/medical nursing and all the rest is to further fracture a group that is already far too splintered.

Besides, anyone who says psych isn't an acute care specialty might want to take another look. Lots of meds with dozens of potential side effects and interactions, co-morbidities up to the rafters, patients that require close physical supervision for self injury, and a tendency for medical practitioners to downplay or outright ignore physical complaints unless a savvy psych nurse can get through to them. You have to have top notch assessment skills to work safely in psych.

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Whispera is a MSN, RN and specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

27,917 Visitors; 3,458 Posts

it's touchy issue. what is meant by "real"? usually, what's often meant by "real nurse" is someone responsible for direct care of medically unstable patients (or patients prone to becoming unstable, such as having procedures, in labor, etc).

it's not that another kind of nurse is "just pretending" to be a nurse; they just have such a different skill set that doesn't fit many nurses' self-concept as a nurse. so "real" in that context means "different than" *their concept* of nurse as opposed to "pretender".

i think that it would be good for the profession of nursing to more clearly designate the unique specialization of acute care/medical nursing in relation to the wider general field of nursing practice. it would clear up a lot of confusion and misunderstandings both within the field ("real nurse") and for those looking in ("the position requires an rn, so any rn can do it, right?")

jjjoy, i truly hope you aren't saying that acute care/medical nurses are real nurses by your definition and others aren't? if that's what you're saying, i take offense, since each nurse has her own skills and no specialization skill set is less valuable than another. would you say an ob nurse is less a real nurse than an acute care/med-surg nurse? if that isn't something you'd say, which specializations are less real than acute care? if that is something you'd say...well...i think you have just a tad of egocentrism. maybe you just wrote what you wrote to stir others' thinking about what some might think? obviously nurses from one specialty can't jump in and do the work of another specialty without some training and experience. that doesn't mean they won't be able to learn and become proficient if the need arises.

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2 Followers; 46,470 Visitors; 8,863 Posts

I love psych nursing and could give a crap what someone else has to say about it especially because in the back of my mind I figure that same smart-mouth will be the one discharging a medically unstable patient to my unit because they can't deal with them. :cool:

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13,279 Visitors; 2,801 Posts

I was trying to say that many people's concept of "a real nurse" is that of an acute care nurse; I wasn't trying to imply that that concept is accurate. Not at all.

I was trying to say (apparently not very successfully) that one needn't necessarily feel *insulted* by an ignorant comment (hurt perhaps, but not necessarily intentionally put down).

Edited by jjjoy

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16,371 Visitors; 2,139 Posts

Who gives a crap what they think? Refer to yourself as a psychiatric clinician and see how they react. One of the things that interests me about psych (having never done it) is that it's outside the box for "typical" nursing.

For me the idea of working med-surg, L&D, and LTC is........repugnant.

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17 Articles; 31,154 Visitors; 4,167 Posts

I was trying to say that many people's concept of "a real nurse" is that of an acute care nurse, not that that concept is accurate. My point being that one needn't necessarily feel *insulted* by an ignorant comment.

I think that it would be good for the profession of nursing to more clearly designate the unique specialization of acute care/medical nursing in relation to the wider general field of nursing practice.

In the second quote, it sounds like you're suggesting that we make the misconception official rather than try to correct it.

I am not insulted when a lay person who doesn't know any better makes an ignorant comment. I do react when I hear the same kind of sentiment being expressed by someone who is a nurse and should know better.

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