Behavioral Health Tech in ER Vs. CNA on MED/SURG floor

  1. Hey everyone, I have an interview for two different jobs tomorrow at the same hospital and one is for a behavioral health tech in the emergency room that is 5 days 8hr shifts and a CNA position on a med/surg floor 3 x 12hr shifts a week.

    I'm finishing up pre-reqs for nursing school right now and plan on enrolling into the nursing program within the next year...

    Just looking for some thoughts on which one you guys would rather work if you have any experience in either/or, pro/cons, etc.

    This will be my first patient oriented job in a hospital setting and just looking for some input on some experiences you or someone you know has had with either of these two positions and which one they liked better

    Thanks a lot!
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    About dreher101

    Joined: Apr '08; Posts: 8
    from US


  3. by   hodgieRN
    I would say do the CNA job. The main reason is time. With CNA, you will work 3 days a week vs 5 days a week. Full time nursing school and working 5 days a week...ouch. As a CNA, you will be learning all the little things that will be the foundation of your nursing skills. Plus, you will have nursing staff that you can watch and learn from. Even if you are a mental health tech in the ER, you might not get as much exposure to pt care as you think. In my hospital, out mental health department is locked from the rest of the ER, and we rarely see the techs unless they are there for a mental health consult. And, it's not an easy job. You will be dealing with acute stuff. All the pts who haven't been on their meds, who are extremely intoxicated, violently acting out, or escorted by the police in handcuffs. There's a big difference between a pt who has been in the hospital for a week on proper meds and a pt who was just brought into the ER who's having acute hallucinations or self-destructive behavior. You will learn a lot about psych, but not much else unless you purposefully walk around the ER and shadow the nurses. That probably won't happen b/c you will be needed in the psych department.

    While I was in nursing school, I worked 4 days a week, 8 hr shifts in radiology as a transporter. It was exhausting. Getting time for a nap on Saturday was the highlight of my week. Working 5 days a week in mental health with full-time nursing school, plus studying. I would end up in restraints with Haldol.
  4. by   Miiki
    From experience in two different ERs, I would enjoy the BHT more.

    I like the CNA schedule better though, so a tough call for me.

    Maybe they would allow you to shadow both for a little bit? You can always ask.
  5. by   SweetCorn
    Quote from dreher101
    behavioral health tech in the emergency room
    To me this sounds like a sitter position that is dedicated to the ER. I could be totally wrong though.
    Sitters have to watch suicidal patients as well as others that are considered a risk to themselves or the staff of the ER. You are basically sitting there watching the patient making sure they don't do anything to themselves or anyone else. You can also take vitals, help with toileting, get cussed out, etc. but it's really kind of boring, at least in my experience. I do some sitting some time as a tech.

    If this is in a behavioral health ward of an ER where you will be working as a regular tech, that sounds challanging. As a previous poster referred to, think about the types of patients you are likely to have in that position vs. the CNA position and try to decide if one matches your future goals more than another.

    3 12s is a good schedule too imho and one of the benefits of healthcare work.

    Be sure to ask questions in your interview so you can get a good idea of what the positions entail.
    Last edit by SweetCorn on Jan 26, '13