My daughter is a senior in high school and for the last 3 years all she has wanted to do when she graduated was to become a nurse. She is in a job shadowing program at a local hospital and after a couple of months has not had any experiences that have made her want to pursue nursing. She has seen several surgeries and some of the "paperwork" end of it so to speak. Her first love is psychiatry and the hospital she shadows at does not have a psychiatric unit. She feels very disappointed and still loves the idea of psychiatry but is not sure which route to go. So, my questions are as follows: Did any of you ever doubt this was not what you wanted to do but finally found your niche in nursing? Do you think a psychiatric unit in another hospital will allow job shadowing? If she still feels the same at the end of the year and nursing is not her thing, any advice on what career path that may include psychiatrics? Any advice would be helpful. Everything she did in high school has prepared her for a career in nursing. Now what!? Thank you all.
Nov 17, '07
Have you checked out the possibilities in community/outpt psych nursing? A shadowing experience may be had in a local Community Mental Health Center possibly. Tis a thought.
Nov 19, '07
My hospital is not a teaching hospital, but we do get students--nursing students. Due to HIPPA I doubt they would allow high school students into a psychiatric unit. Having worked in a psyc unit for 20 yrs I can tell you she would need to have a strong Med-Surg background. Most of our pts have mild to severe medical problems and when the focus is on psychiatric and suddenly you need to pull knowledge out of the hat you haven't used in years, that takes experience. Most units require at least a few years with medical before specializing. The only field I know that takes "green" nursing students is OB as they like to train them without "bad" habits already, but that was years ago too.
Nov 19, '07
I forgot to mention career paths without nursing.
Mental health tech--they usually need a BS in Psych or experience
out pt services include group homes that are always looking for people, I don't know what experience they need.
Occupational Therapy/ Recreational therapy-- to be the therapist you need a college degree, but they look for techs in that area also and all psych units have them
These are ways to try out the field, There are also program directors and coordinators. I'm sure there are more, but a lot in the put patient field.
Nov 19, '07
Thanks craftirn for your input. All of those are good ideas. She is looking into school psychology also. We are hoping she may be able to switch her job shadowing into something along those lines just to get a feel for it. Until she is 18 I doubt she would even be able to volunteer in a psychiatric or rehab facility.
Nov 19, '07
I've been in psych nursing for a v. long time, and have never encountered a psych facility (inpatient or outpatient) that would permit a high school student to "shadow" -- I've only encountered one unit over the years that even allowed the "official" hospital volunteers to come on the unit. Very few mental health facilities, inpatient or outpatient, use (even) adult volunteers.
The reasons are 1) the much stricter confidentiality/privacy rules in psychiatric settings, and 2) the greater safety concerns (as compared to, say, hospital medical-surgical units).
Is she only interested in going into nursing if she can check out psych nursing first?? If nursing is her career goal, she will have a psychiatric nursing course (inc. clinical rotation) in school. Also, it is not at all uncommon for people to begin nursing school sure that they know what area they want to specialize in and, by the time they finish school and have experienced all the different clinical areas, change their minds and end up going into something completely different (I've known many nurses who had that experience, inc. myself).
There are lots of career choices within mental health, but you & your daughter will find that all of the others either involve much more formal education (graduate degree minimum) or pay a whole lot less than being an RN -- I don't know how much those considerations matter to your daughter, but I figure they're worth mentioning.
There are many threads on this board that discuss various aspects of psychiatric nursing (there is a whole "Psychiatric Nursing" forum), and you and your daughter may be interested in reviewing those -- lots of good info there.
Nov 20, '07
Maybe she could consider working the summer as a CNA on a psychiatric unit in a hospital or county facility. She should have that kind of experience before getting into a nursing program anyway. That would give her some kind of idea what to expect in that area. I truly believe that anyone who wants to go into a specific area of nursing should work it as a CNA first to be able to understand what their staff has to endure daily dealing with those patients. I personally enjoy working the floor alongside my CNA's doing personal cares and assisting with the behaviors. Too much of nursing has become about med passes and paperwork. Nurses tend to forget what it was that made them want to become nurses when they allow the charting to take over.
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