Am I cut out for this?

  1. I'm here for some advice from people who know the reality of psych nursing. I'm trying to figure out whether pursuing a PMHNP would be right for me. If you'll bear with me, I'm just going to info dump so you understand where I'm coming from.

    I'm interested in counseling people, primarily; this is a role I've taken on instinctively throughout my life. I feel most capable and useful when I'm helping people overcome their hurdles, and I wish I could spend more time making others' lives better, instead of sitting behind a computer all day. I was looking into school counseling, initially, but in my area, that would mean a pay cut after graduating, AND tenuous career prospects. Right now, I'm weighing my options between an advanced psychology degree and retraining for psychiatric nursing.

    Nursing has the advantage of a stronger job market, and the promise of offering a patient therapy and medication from the same source (depression runs in my family, and I can't tell you how huge of a difference this can make in terms of quality of care). My hesitation is that my interest in people below the neck is pretty limited. I don't want to be on a hospital floor, and after clinicals, ideally, I'd never see an open wound again. That being said, I've got a strong academic history (undergraduate GPA of 3.75, consistent As in science), an interest in neurology, and I believe I could do well in nursing school if there was a career I'd enjoy at the end of the tunnel.

    For those of you who've already been through the hoops - do I have a realistic view of the job? My end goal would be to spend most of my time in one-on-one sessions with patients, likely as part of a private practice team. My instinct is that it's crazy to enter nursing school not wanting to be a "traditional" nurse, but I've seen NPs working in this type of setting before.
  2. Visit El_Tea profile page

    About El_Tea

    Joined: Jun '18; Posts: 1
    from MI , US


  3. by   Sour Lemon
    I don't see NPs having extended discussions with patients. In many cases, they're having no discussion, at all. From what I've observed, it's more about prescribing medication. I work in an inpatient unit, though.
  4. by   Heylove
    Quote from El_Tea
    My instinct is that it's crazy to enter nursing school not wanting to be a "traditional" nurse, but I've seen NPs working in this type of setting before.
    I entered nursing school not ever wanting to be any type of nurse. (Basically, I had just gone through a traumatic marital separation and needed something to do.) I didn't really have any interest in nursing. That is, until my first day of my psych clinical rotation. I have talked to many nurses, and many start out in nursing school believing that they will want to work one specialty and end up discovering a passion for a different specialty.

    My advice would be get through an RN/BSN program, first. From your post, it sounds like you may have degree but are not yet an RN? One step at a time. Nursing school is no walk in the park, no matter what your background or how fabulous your GPA may be. Next, pass the NCLEX and obtain your license. The jobs are out there after these steps are completed. I don't know about others, maybe it was easier for some out there, but each one of these steps presented hurdles for me. PMHNP programs will be there if you still decide to go that route -after- you become an RN.

    Consider the clinical rotations on other units as an extension of your passion for mental health. Patients (not to mention; their families and visitors) in ALL settings need to have mental health issues addressed. Conversely, you WILL see medical issues in some psychiatric patients, especially in the senior population. Confusion, agitation and hallucinations are common in elderly patients who are experiencing a UTI, for example. These patients are admitted to a psychiatric unit after meeting criteria, however, all they needed was treatment for the UTI.

    I have considered PMHNP school myself, but I think that I'm leaning more towards law school (aaaahhh!) and trying to justify that move at this stage of my life. Anyway, all of this is just my opinion. It's wonderful that you have so many routes to choose from.
  5. by   future_psych
    Hey there! I am a current direct-entry PMHNP student in my last year of school and believe I had similar feelings to yours before I began. I've always planned to work in mental health, however I was not entirely sure in what capacity. After college I worked for a few years in various areas before eventually learning of the PMHNP role and making the move to return to graduate school. I was also was not interested in being a med-surg or otherwise nurse, however the time spent in other clinical areas is crucial to understanding disease process. Additionally it will most likely open your eyes to the psychiatric care needed in all areas. For example, after my OB rotation I've become more interested in maternal mental health.

    Should you decide to choose this path you will have no problems finding jobs in psychiatry.