I must admit, I am relatively surprised by some of the posts here!
First of all, I need to get something off my chest. I have a hard time imagining a nurse being "bored" at any capacity of work they are doing. So much of nursing is what you make of it. Yes, I know there can be a monumental amount of charting anywhere you go as a nurse, but certain aspects of nursing require being independently curious, continuously educating yourself, being creative, and thinking of ways to improve the unit/agency/field you work in. But I digress.
Don't let the fact that psych nursing "appears" to be boring fool you. I've been on the same inpatient psych unit for 3 years and I see my fair-share of nurses sitting on their butts in the back nursing office only coming out when a patient needs a medication. That is NOT what psych nursing is and that is NOT what it means to be a psych nurse, let a lone nurse in general. Our job as nurses is to be present and available in the milieu--especially in psych nursing. So try not to be mistaken by what you have seen or heard of -- psych nursing is what you make of it.
On a typical shift (I do 7p-7a now), it starts out with getting a routine report on the unit. Usually theres 3-4 nurses and we have a 24 patient capacity which means I have anywhere from 5-8 patients. Where I work, there are 2 other adult units, 1 adolescent unit, and 1 geriatric unit, so it's a somewhat big psychiatric hospital and there can be a lot going on at any given time in terms of mental health acuity.
Patient interaction largely depends on the nurse and can vary. I notice some nurses who seem to purposely avoid having a lot of patient interaction and get easily bothered by talking with patients and on the other hand there are nurses who take a lot of time talking with patients. For me, I meet with each and every one of my patients to do a check in. I would like to think that's pretty basic in many areas in nursing and is just common courtesy and the patient's right to know who is taking care of them. There are times though when you need to use your own judgement in meeting new patients and time it right. Some patients may be more willing to communicate than others. Some patients with schizophrenia may have a hard time communicating their thoughts (thought-blocking) and patients in a manic state may talk nonstop. But the beauty of psych nursing is, that's all part of the job and part of the assessment.
In psych nursing, you learn to assess patients by observations and behavior. There are no monitors hooked up to a psych patient telling you they are paranoid, angry, psychotic, or ready to escalate. So it is crucial to not only interact with patients one-on-one but to also interact by observing and being present in the milieu.
Out of all the areas of nursing I been exposed to, psych nursing has the most opportunities to interact with your patients, BY FAR. The assessment process includes interviewing them and talking with them. Communication in psych nursing is so important. Not only to assess for side effects of medication, but to also assess for their symptoms of their mental illness. So I think it is absolutely necessary for a psych nurse to spend as much time with their patients as possible, when appropriate and when it is necessary.