Psych Nurse for kids ?

by kalexis226 kalexis226 (New) New


i am currently a junior in high school who has an aspiration for being a psych nurse for children. I'd like to know what the environment is like, pay scale, average hours and education requirements. Thank you! :)



Specializes in Outpatient Psychiatry. 1,413 Posts

8-12 hour shifts

2-5 days/week

working nights, weekends, holidays

you'll "manage the milieu" which is essentially safety and rule enforcement

you'll assess the patient likely each shift which could take 30 seconds to 20 minutes depending on what you consider as an assessment

you might give meds

you might lead a "group" which for nurses is typically an education group, e.g. talking about a disease or med side effects, etc.

pay will be regional. maybe 18-40/hour

some institutions pay psych nurses more because few people want to do the job. others pay them less because the institutions deem them more disposable than ER and ICU nurses which require added training and certifications

you'll spend a lot of the day "redirecting" and trying to explain why kids can't do x and why they must do y or z instead

you'll spend the day dealing with them finding anything pointy to cut (or scratch most likely) with, punching holes in the wall, arguing, griping, passing phone numbers, etc.

I'm a psych NP. I feel like I treat patients from a symptomatic, physiological perspective. When I worked on an inpatient basis as a RN, I felt like I was little more than a security guard that listened to a lot of whining.



Specializes in Forensic Psychiatry. Has 2 years experience. 72 Posts

Typical nursing hours-365 days a year 24 hours a day so varying shifts typically 8-12 depending on facility. The pay scale is that of a typical RN I would say, anywhere from $20-40 per hour depending on region and experience. You don't necessarily have to have any special education, a lot is probably done on the job. However, after working for two years as a psych nurse you can get certified and specialize in psych nursing. If it's really what you want to do I would recommend taking extra psych classes in school.

There are varying environments, but mostly some form of hospital setting. At my facility we have forensic psychiatric facilities for teens who are involved with legal issues and have psychiatric issues.

You will typically be in charge of a unit and the unlicensed personnel. You will help manage the unit and ensure that it is safe. You will be in charge of medication and any medical issues and will probably be involved in case management of some sort. Care plans, daily assessment, charting is all very important. You may also be asked to lead groups. In a way a psych nurse does a little bit of social work, psychology, along with nursing.


glass_houseRN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 8 years experience. 42 Posts

Oh my where to start. Pediatric/adolescent psych nursing takes a VERY strong individual with a ton of patience. I started my nursing career on the adolescence and peds psych floor... Not knowing what I was getting myself into. There was two units, each with 25 beds. Man these kids... Some are average everyday kids who have strayed off the path and need some extra help. Some of them changed me in ways I never thought possible. But unfortunatly most come from such broken homes that It makes you want to go down to the local foster agency and help save them. Some test your patience and make you cry and make you want to scream but you know that that's all that they get at home so you have to keep your cool. Kids that have been raped, sold in a prostitution ring, beaten so bad daily that they don't know what love is. Some of them spit in your face try to bite you pand call you every name in the book and you restrain them over and over because they won't stop hurting themselves. Some so set on killing themselves but really all they want is just love and attention. Some you talk to for hours on end only to have them try to hurt themselves a minute later. Honestly it's a great experience overall and these kids need nurses like us to be there for them - you just have to have tough skin. Some of the stuff you hear is really hard to process. It's one of the hardest fields of nursing I feel you could ever work in, and it's almost impossible to describe in words. You just have to do it for yourself and see how you like it!

Avergae pay depends on where you live but anywhere from 25-30. Education is associates degree or higher.


SwampCat, BSN

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 3 years experience. 310 Posts

When I worked on an inpatient basis as a RN, I felt like I was little more than a security guard that listened to a lot of whining.

This. Daily I feel like little more than a well-paid babysitter. Yes there are certain kids that you will reach and you will get the warm fuzzies like you made a little difference in the world, but I'll be honest: I get that maybe once or twice a week. The rest of the time I am stressed out being the only nurse, constantly redirecting kids, and babysitting staff.

I'll still take it over med/surg, though! :)