Demand for entry level psych NP versus psych nurses

  1. I am interested in pursuing an ABSN and working in psychiatric nursing.

    I have been exploring the job ads and it seems there are a lot less psychiatric RN jobs compared to the other nursing specialties (not taking into account psych NP jobs, which is a totally different job).

    For anyone with experience in this specialty, how is the demand for entry level psychiatric RNs compared to other nursing settings? Should I be worried about potentially not finding an entry level position as a psych nurse upon graduation from an ABSN? (if it makes any difference, I live in California)
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    About redbullz9

    Joined: Dec '17; Posts: 15; Likes: 7

    25 Comments

  3. by   elkpark
    There are definitely fewer jobs, but there are also many fewer nurses who are interested in working in psych settings, so it seems to sort of average out. How willing organizations are to hire new grads often seems to be related to the location and how large a candidate pool facilities enjoy. When I graduated many years ago, it was a given in the medium-sized city in which I had gone to school that new grads could not get jobs in specialties. All the healthcare employers in the area required two years of med-surg experience in order to be considered qualified for any specialties (yes, there was a time when two years was considered the bare minimum acceptable amount of experience for, well, anything). The area was large and desirable enough that there were plenty of experienced nurses for employers to choose from, and they didn't have to hire new graduates if they didn't want to (although everyone was good about hiring new grads into med-surg units and providing decent orientation). A friend of mine was visiting faculty at a university in a rural area a few hours (drive) away, knew I was interested in psychiatric nursing, and got word to me that the psychiatric unit at the community hospital up there had an opening (that had been open for a while) and encouraged me to apply. I applied, interviewed, and got the job -- not only did they not insist on previous med-surg experience, they were delighted to get someone fresh out of school with all the new, up-to-date book larnin'. There were no nursing schools in the area pumping out new grads, not a lot of new people came to the area, the nursing population there was pretty stable and there weren't a lot of nurses interested in working in psych. I ended up staying in that job three years (and only moved on because of serious changes in the management and ownership of the unit), and have spent most of my adult life living in that area.

    How determined are you to get into psych nursing right away? Are you willing to relocate to wherever you can get a psych job? Best wishes --
  4. by   redbullz9
    I am very willing to move to a new city for work but hopefully that won't be necessary given that I live in a 7 million + metro area. I would want to get into psych nursing right away, because I am planning to do my masters in psych NP after a couple of years (I know there are way more psych NP jobs out there).

    May I ask how large the mid sized city you lived in originally was?
  5. by   redbullz9
    I mistitled this posting, it should read something like "demand for psych RN versus demand for other RN settings".
  6. by   elkpark
    Quote from redbullz9
    I am very willing to move to a new city for work but hopefully that won't be necessary given that I live in a 7 million + metro area. I would want to get into psych nursing right away, because I am planning to do my masters in psych NP after a couple of years (I know there are way more psych NP jobs out there).

    May I ask how large the mid sized city you lived in originally was?
    Well, it was nothing compared to where you are. I had to Google it to find out what the population was back when I was living there and in school. The city proper was ~320,000, and the greater metropolitan area was ~1.37 million
  7. by   verene
    I was hired for a position in psych as soon as my NCLEX scores went through and the board posted my license as active. The job post may say "experience preferred" but in my area there are probably 100 openings for psych/related RN positions with in 1 hr drive of the city I live in - so realistically employers can't be beggars and most of them will put training into a new grad with interest in the field. The recruiter for the state hospital I spoke with said they love working with new grads because there aren't as many bad habits to break, and my own manager had the comment that she would rather hire a new grad who is passionate about mental health care than an experience RN (in another specialty) who is just looking for a paycheck and doesn't care about the population.
  8. by   redbullz9
    How did you find your position? Did a recruiter contact you or did you just apply yourself while waiting for the exam results?
  9. by   elkpark
    New grads typically job hunt on their own. There's not enough money involved for headhunters or agencies to be interested. Check the job postings of hospitals that interest you (in your case, hospitals that have psychiatric units, plus the state hospitals). If you're interested in outpatient psych nursing jobs, also check the websites of outpatient mental health programs (although my recommendation would be that you are less likely, in my experience, to get an outpatient psych job as a new grad, and would not get nearly as good experience as you would working on an acute inpatient unit).
    Last edit by elkpark on Oct 11
  10. by   hppygr8ful
    Quote from redbullz9
    I mistitled this posting, it should read something like "demand for psych RN versus demand for other RN settings".
    California psych RN here. While I would said that Psych RN are in high demand we are a niche specialty. We are always hiring at the facility where I work and we don't discriminate against new grads. Still I often find that the brand new grad lacks clinical judgment that only comes with floor experience. All of this can be learned in the psych environment if he RN in question is motivated.


    Psych nursing can be difficult because in most case we very rarely see our patients get well - we stabilize them and send them back out into the world and they come back when they decompensate.


    I work with the adolescent population which has slightly better outcomes but it can still be disheartening to see the same patient come back again.


    As for becoming a psych NP I wish we could get some of you young nurses to stick with the specialty and not take off for NP school all time. Plus Psych NP is expected to have a glut of new grads in coming years and jobs may be harder to come by.


    If you want to know more about the facility I work at please send me a PM.


    Hppy
  11. by   redbullz9
    It looks I cannot send PM's yet...not enough posts. Can I ask what general metro area your facility is located in and what type of setting it is?
  12. by   FolksBtrippin
    I got a job in psych right after I passed NCLEX in 2017 on the east coast metro area. I had some experience working in adult partial care though. My suggestion is to get a part time or per diem job as a mental health tech while in nursing school. Not many nurses are interested in psych, so your chances are pretty good.
  13. by   verene
    Quote from redbullz9
    How did you find your position? Did a recruiter contact you or did you just apply yourself while waiting for the exam results?
    I think I applied to 3 or 4 jobs the week before graduation, had 3 interviews, took the NCLEX about 3 weeks after graduation, and then had 2 formal offers immediately following my license activating. I started working about 6 weeks after graduation.

    All the positions I applied to were with organizations recommended to me by pysch RN friends or my faculty from school. I actually applied to a different position at my current employer (which filled right after my application went in), but the regional director saw my resume and called me up to ask if I would be interested in a different RN position they had just posted, I had a pretty informal phone interview with her about the other position, and then she set me up with an in-person interview with the nurse manager. Job hunting was a pretty painless process.

    I had previously worked with a SPMI population as a CNA and did my practicum on a high-acuity in-patient unit which combined with graduating from a well-respected nursing program helped my application stand out.
    Last edit by verene on Oct 11
  14. by   LC25
    I am also in California. I often see postings for psych RN jobs encouraging new grads to apply. The main difference I've noticed is that hospitals (with a psych floor/unit) seem to want experience, while free standing or private organizations don't necessarily require it. I recently got hired at the county psych hospital where I live (haven't started yet). While I have some (not a lot) of psych experience, they didn't required it for the job. In fact, they take your psych clinical rotation you did in school into account.
    I urge you to pursue this career path. I truly believe we are a rare breed, and this area of nursing needs nurses who want to do a job that so many do not.

    Good Luck to you!!

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