nursing options after psych nursing??

Specialties Psychiatric


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Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

I split the difference and work on a medical psychiatric unit. Not an option everywhere, of course, but it is a great way to maintain your skills while dealing with psych issues. I also get to float to the other "non-medical" pysch units (including adolescent) so there's lots of variety.


13 Posts

I got the thread back, re-read all of the messages and decided that I needed to add some more.... Have been a nurse since the 2 year program RN / college based feasibility studies were done back in the 60's. I have been active in nursing as a volunteer as well as for salary. I threatened at one point to wallpaper the bathroom with my licenses from the various places my military husband was stationed and I attempted to keep my finger in nursing. All of the experiences, were just that, opportunities to grow. I still have not decided what I want to be when I grow up...but I do know what I did not like and/or never want to do ever again.

One thing is for sure, there are a lot of people with dual diagnosis out in the world...

Heard this a long time ago---Everyone is neurotic, it's when they get psychotic that you worry about them... and get to treat them!

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC.

When I graduated nursing school in December 1994, there was actually a nursing surplus. Few of my classmates found full-time work immediately after school. I was one of the fortunate ones, landing a job at a hospital in suburban Oklahoma City that was opening a new psychiatric unit. I had a BA in psychology before going to nursing school, which probably helped me to get hired.

An ICU nurse on my first job said riding up on the elevator one afternoon, "You aren't a real nurse. You don't even wear a uniform" (our unit dress was street clothes). When I pointed out that the DON didn't wear one either, he shut up.

Things were fine until I relocated. In my new city, I worked for Charter Behavioral Health Systems, and was abruptly thrown out of work when Charter closed about half its facilities with little warning (the class-action lawsuit is still pending). Working in the state with the fewest nurses per 100,000 population in the country, I drew unemployment compensation for 90 days before finally landing a job in a rehabilitation hospital. No hospital in town would even talk to me, despite running full-page ads for RNs every Sunday.

There is a definite prejudice against psychiatric nurses in the medical community. They believe that if you aren't currently doing something, you can't do it at all. We all went through the same training before starting our careers, and passed the same board exam. A large number of employers are unwilling to help people refresh their skills, and had rather work short that take someone who might need to brush up on a few things.

With the current shortage, they will have to become a lot less selective.


27 Posts

I trained in New Zealand as a registered comprehensive nurse. Through training I was also told to go into medical/surgical nursing. I chose to go into psych as it was my passion. I agree with "cheerfuldoer's" comment noted above re the 90% of psych in non-psych nursing roles. It is an art that does not rely on technology (apart from physical aspects). And yes I also have had comments from non-psych nurses that psych nurses are not real nurses. I figure that those who make such comments have forgotten the essence of nursing as a holistic concept. But what does it matter what they think, what matters is what you think. You have the ability to maintain medical skills you just need to apply that knowledge.

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