So how important is a Med-Surg background?

  1. I'm currently a Psychology major / Biological Sciences minor and plan to enter a 2nd degree BSN program after I graduate with my BA.

    I truly love psychology, and feel as if this is the area of nursing I want to go into. However, I've always planned on doing approx. 2 yrs of Med-Surg in a "regular" hospital before going on to Psych/Mental Health nursing (hospital, outpatient center, substance abuse clinic, etc).

    My question is........exactly how important is it to have (even just a year or two) or Med-Surg before going into the Psych/MH specialty? I know some people say that the general medical skills are best gained that way, and often in a Psych setting, the RN can be the medical "expert" to which others (i.e. clinical psychologists) go to. I've also heard that if Psych is what you want to do right out of school, go for it.

    Those of you who had a year or two of Med-Surg.....how has that helped you? Do you feel that it was an important aspect of your career before going into MH?

    Those of you that went straight into MH.....do you ever wish you had done bit of general Med-Surg? Feel like you're missing out on anything, or that some skills are compromised?

    Thanks in advance!:typing
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    About amanda sue

    Joined: Jun '05; Posts: 39; Likes: 1

    5 Comments

  3. by   gdbn
    I started at a child/adolescent unit after graduating and thought that the confidence a person can develop from working in a med/surg environment would have been helpful although have no regrets; ended up staying in that position for only 7 months and moved on to an ortho floor. Since we just moved to a different area of the country, I am once again trying to decide which niche fits me better. Also, had to decide what my motivation was for doing the behavioral health setting. I think the assessment skills from a medical unit can be helpful just in case you decide the psych setting is not for you down the road. Just a comment - the staff at BH had great humor and were very enjoyable to work with. Whatever your decision, you will learn from whatever it is you do. (This is my 2nd post, hope it works!)
  4. by   amanda sue
    Quote from gdbn
    I started at a child/adolescent unit after graduating and thought that the confidence a person can develop from working in a med/surg environment would have been helpful although have no regrets; ended up staying in that position for only 7 months and moved on to an ortho floor. Since we just moved to a different area of the country, I am once again trying to decide which niche fits me better. Also, had to decide what my motivation was for doing the behavioral health setting. I think the assessment skills from a medical unit can be helpful just in case you decide the psych setting is not for you down the road. Just a comment - the staff at BH had great humor and were very enjoyable to work with. Whatever your decision, you will learn from whatever it is you do. (This is my 2nd post, hope it works!)
    Thanks for your reply!

    The general consensus I seem to be getting is that a Med-Surg background, even if only 1 year, is a good thing for teaching you skills and providing more opportunities / not closing any doors down the road in one's nursing career.

    Anyone else have any insight?
  5. by   kimee
    Good advice I received while still Nursing Student "get your med-surg" year. The year I spent working Neuro before going into Psych was invaluable...my assessment skills are sharper and I can truely tell the difference between delirium and delusions! Mentally ill vs. Alzheimers/Parkinson's Dementia...and whether a seizure is real or "pseudo". I also gained skills in labs values, drawing blood and IV's (that I have had to do very seldom, but valuable asset as traveler). Don't under value the experience you gain - in any department...it will only continue the education you have just started. I am still Learning. Everyday. Everywhere. And after 10 years, I am just a beginner.
  6. by   amanda sue
    Quote from kimee
    Good advice I received while still Nursing Student "get your med-surg" year. The year I spent working Neuro before going into Psych was invaluable...my assessment skills are sharper and I can truely tell the difference between delirium and delusions! Mentally ill vs. Alzheimers/Parkinson's Dementia...and whether a seizure is real or "pseudo". I also gained skills in labs values, drawing blood and IV's (that I have had to do very seldom, but valuable asset as traveler). Don't under value the experience you gain - in any department...it will only continue the education you have just started. I am still Learning. Everyday. Everywhere. And after 10 years, I am just a beginner.
    Thank you for your response, kimee.

    That seems to be the general feeling I'm getting from talking to people about this and reading about it. I guess it's better to start out more "general" and then go into a speciality. You never know what skills you're going to need when! Thanks again
  7. by   saphira
    I'm starting a job in a psych center this coming Thursday. They hired me in part because I had a year of med-surg under my belt as an RN and 9 months in LTC as an LPN. They wanted someone with good basic assessment skills. It probably helped that at my current job the floor I'm on also got all the non-medically cleared psych patients. But...get a year in even if it's part time as a med-surg nurse. The assesment skills are invaluable and if you decide to get out of psych nursing later on, you'll have those skills to back you up.

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