Please help a Newbie with some info on Psych nursing!!

Specialties Psychiatric


Hey all. Thanks for any replys in advance.

So I am in my final year of nursing school and will be graduating with my RN (associates) and was considering a career in the mental health field. I have worked as a CNA on a geriatric psych floor and new that there is no way in he** I would want to work there again when I finish. My actual desire to be able to engage patients emotionally and verbally more than just physically assessing and handing out meds. So my question is, what is my best path? The NP on my geripsych floor barely ever even speaks to a patient. She pretty much banters with doctors and nurses over what meds to give or adjust. I want to deal with medications as little as possible for personal and ethical reasons. I don't mind giving them out quite so much (although I would prefer not to and certainly don't want that to be the main point of my job) but I prefer to not have my day revolve around giving them out. I guess I am wondering whether I was better suited to be a therapist, social worker, psychologist, etc. or is there still hope for me? What to you guys think? Is there a path where nursing/therapy/counseling/stress reduction/etc. merge? I would love to integrate some mindfulness meditation, dialectal behavior therapy, and other ideas of that sort into a psych nursing career. Thank you so much for any help you can give me.

Oh and am I doomed to have to get my BSN before I move on? The more I research the more it seems inevitable that I have to spend another two years to get my BSN before I can further my education in the psych department specifically unless I completely jump ship and go for my MSW. Thanks again.


Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).
My actual desire to be able to engage patients emotionally and verbally more than just physically assessing and handing out meds. So my question is, what is my best path?


This quoted portion seems to be the essence of your enquiry. It may be the type of question, like many personal questions, that you are gonna hafta answer through an Empirical Endeavor. However- I can give you one perception:

One of the great things about Nursing is that one can attain their desires through Practising their Art. Most Individuals seeking assistance in dealing with their emotional pain just want to be heard and understood. So you can do what you're setting out to do.

But you're gonna hafta assess and pass pills because that what Nurses do. In our Allopathically-Dominated Society, Immediate Gratifaction and Quick Fixes are The Way. Finding Patients who will consider Alternative Methods, from my experience , is gonna be The Chore.

But, hey, I can appreciate your Gumption. Keep on keeping on.


Going by how things are at my job, none of the people in those jobs you mentioned get to talk to the patients as much as they like. There's always some kind of paperwork or regulation stealing your time or not letting say something.

I don't think you are doomed to nothing but passing pills as an RN, though there certainly RNs out there who do only that. But, there are also RNs (and MHAs/CNAs) that go out of their way to slow down and talk to someone. I've sure you've seen both types if you've already worked on a psych floor. You may not have time to do any full blown therapy but I think you could find time to explain the basics of meditation or give a mini-lesson in communication or some other social skill. I've done it many times (usually right after some sort of conflict)... then again I don't know how helpful those conversation where since they were usually one-time things. But, worst case scenario, life happens and you can't go back to school at all... nursing might not be that bad, or not that much worse than any other job anyway.

Also, maybe get away from geriatric psych...? Our geri psych floor is much different from our other floors. The former being more like a nursing home and the latter being much calmer with more time for conversation.

Specializes in Psychiatric, Crisis.

Psychiatric Nursing should enable you to speak/communicate with patients with mental health issues and is part of your assessment skills. Every nurse is an individual, and each of us may do things a little differently, hopefully within approved guidelines of our Nursing Scope of practice.


Cool, thanks to you three. I guess if I ever want to actually counsel or work with a patient one on one for an extended period of time I would have to get into private practice perhaps (any thoughts on this?).

For someone looking to get a masters in psychiatric nursing is it best to get my bachelors after my RN then MSN as an NP or CNS? Thanks again.

Specializes in Psychiatric, Crisis.

I know a few nurses that I have worked with that have completed a masters degree after having first gotten their BSN. Some take courses online while they work full time as RN on the units. Unfortunately, the hospital where I work does not employ Nurse Practioners in Psych, so if they want to work as an NP they have to go somewhere else, like a county clinic, or teach in a Nursing School. We have nurses that are MSN's that become Unit Managers. I went in another direction, and got an BS in Psychology and I still work as a Psychiatric RN. YOu should probably talk with a Guidance Counselor at a Nursing School to find out more information.


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