I posted this on the general discussion as well; please help!!!
I'm getting ready to graduate with an ADN in a few short months, and I've found myself really stuck when thinking about what aspect/area of nursing I want to work in. I am passionately leaning towards psych/mental health nursing, but am unsure of my career options. I won't be able to return to college for an advanced degree right away (hubby's turn to go to school!), but that is in my long-term future. In our program, we did a rotation on an acute psych unit at a local hospital. I LOVED it, although I'm not sure what I was doing then would be what I would be doing as an actual, real-life nurse. Mostly, we talked to the patients, learned about their meds (didn't actually pass them, for some reason), ran groups, etc. I learned a whole lot there, and I seemed to have a real knack for what we were doing. The patients on that unit were mostly schizophrenic or manic/bipolar patients (probably 80%/10% with the rest made up of various other illnesses). Now, here's the problem. I'm sitting here, trying to evaluate my job options and figure out a long-term career plan, and I really don't know what that will be! What are my options in this field? What do actual psych nurses DO? At this particular facility, they didn't seem to be doing what we were doing; as a matter of fact, we barely had contact with the nursing staff- if they weren't sitting at the nurses' station, they were god knows where. I'm not suggesting that they were not working, it's just that we never really saw them around the unit. Furthermore, I'm not sure that I want to work with a mostly schizophrenic population; I'm considering something a bit different, like adolescent psych or something like that. I just don't know exactly what!! I'm beginning to think that I should have become a therapist instead of a nurse. Someone help me! I think I would be better at a long-term facility, rather than an acute unit; it seemed like all we were doing there was medicating and shipping them off to day programs/partial hospitalization/group homes. I know that that is necessary, but it's not really where I feel I would do best...anyone know what I mean? Another problem I'm discovering is that my fellow nursing students don't seem to appreciate psych/mh nursing as a REAL nursing career! How disappointing! Most of them absolutely hated our psych rotation, and when I'm asked which area I want to work in after graduation, I'm given anything from looks to actual comments like, 'Oh, that's not real nursing' or 'You're going to lose all your skills!' or 'Hmm..psych is horrible. Why would you want to go into psych?' or such things. It's so frustrating! For the first time, after class that semester, I would come home to my husband and RAVE about my day, so much in fact that he is now preparing to go to college to become a psychologist or something in that field. I'm looking at job opportunities in our area, and I"m seeing lots of openings for ICU/Critical units (which I DO NOT want to do), but not so many for psych/behavioral health. Furthermore, I'm not sure that I want to work in a hospital setting; I'm more the type of person who does best in a community setting or something similar. I'm so LOST! Someone give me some advice, please, before I drive myself crazy!! I feel very confused and unsure right now...I always felt drawn to nursing, and ever since my psych rotation, I've felt drawn to that area, but what can I DO there? Where can I work? What will I be doing? Anyone with experience here, feel free to email me or respond. I feel like I'm hitting brick walls. Thanks.
Aug 19, '02
Last edit by Orca on Aug 19, '02