Switching nursing fields

  1. Anyone ever switch from medical-surgical unit to a psychiatric unit and either hate it or love it. I would like to hear your input.

    I am currently a new med-surg RN for 1 1/2 years, but have had a burning desire to get into psychiatric nursing since I started nursing school, and waited due to the fact that I wanted to get some med-surg under my belt.

    The running around like a chicken with your head cut off in the med-surg unit is really making me feel miserable. I would like to branch off into the psych field but I would like some input.

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    About fluffette36

    Joined: Feb '06; Posts: 2


  3. by   RN1263
    [QUOTE=fluffette36;1937013]The running around like a chicken with your head cut off in the med-surg unit is really making me feel miserable./QUOTE]

    I'm a student still (one semester left), BUT I can't stand med-surg!!!! I run around like a chicken w/ my head cut off w/ 2-3 pts. now. sooooo, I know I'd be miserable on that floor as an R.N..
    I really liked my psych clinicals so I'm going to do my best to get in to psych as a new grad. Sorry, no one else responded?
    good luck!:spin:
  4. by   darcie1
    Have you worked in mental health before? Because it takes alot of patience and humor. I've been in the field for 12 yrs, started as bachelor's level social worker, then LPN, now just graduated from RN program. I love this field and encourage you to check it out---it's totally different than med-surg nursing. Talk to other nurses you meet to find a good facility to work for---there are good and bad ones. Where are u from? I live in tampa and could give you info for this area if you like! Good Luck!
  5. by   Supermomandnurse
    I am currently working in a inpt. psych dept in a hospital and LOVE it. I knew that after 5 years of Geriatrics and 5 years of med surg I was DONE. I did not like either after a while. The stress is different but better. I suggest anyone who may think they would like it to try.
  6. by   ctravel
    I've been a psych nurse for 11 years. If you want to try psych go for it. If you don't like it you can always try something else. Unlike med/surg where you are always busy, in psych some days you are really busy and some days there's not much going on. The hardest part of psych nursing is dealing with all the personalities of the staff. You have to work as a team in this environment, and you will find a lot of your subordinates will agitate patients then expect you to intervene. Psych can be slightly dangerous because of the unpredictable behavior of your patients. But if you have good staff, things usually go smoothly with medicating and restraining patients. On the other hand if you have oppositional staff, who don't agree with your decision's things can get really frustrating. I would advise against working for at a state hospital initallly, they have the most chronic patients, the facilities are usually old, with old technology. Most of staff have been there forever and have little motivation or interest in patients. The are usually counting down the days til retirement, doing as little as possible. I think you would get disheartened if you started your psych career in a state hospital. The best part of psych is working with patients. Good luck in your switch. I am actually thinking of switching the other way, into med/surg. Want to try something different for a while. Don't know if I'll regret it or not.
  7. by   Supermomandnurse
    Having a strong med/surg backround is a godsend. And I am currenly working in a progressive short term inpatient hospital with mostly younger pts. not as chronic. The weekend MD heard me giving report and said today "you have a great medical backround", after hearing me give report. She also questioned how long I was a medical nurse and really praised my overall experience. It felt good that by med/surg skills were not for naught.
    Why are you considering going back? Please enlighten me. Do you feel you are "loosing skills?" Thanks for the input. BTW are you RNC, (nationally certified) If you are has it helped you?
  8. by   ctravel
    I'm not RNC, have thought about it, but I don't see the benefit of paying that much money for a test that doesn't reap any financial rewards in return. I think I am burned out on psych. I started working as a psych nurse directly out of nursing school, only did 3 months on a med surg floor. It was such a horrible experience, I've bee afraid to go back. At that time which was about 12 years ago, nurses were working 7 12 hour shifts on, and 7 off. Those who have been in nursing for a while probably remember when hospitals tried this. It was awful. Plus I was expected to carry a patient load of 12 or 13. It was simply dangerous and exhausting. I went right back to psych and stayed there ever since. But I feel limited in my career, with only my psych background. Maybe things have changed some on the med/surg floors since then. I want to give it another try and learn some new skills.
  9. by   BHVHTX
    RE: Switching nursing fields
    I switch fields about 1 1/2 years ago from Cardiac to Community Psych Nursing. Before working with cardiovascular I worked on a Tele floor which
    is a lot like med-surg but with heart monitoring. If someone was interested
    in going back into the hospital...the key to success is to find a hospital that has a reputation for being the best. They will train you 3,6,9, months are longer if needed i.e. Baylor Heart and Vascular in Dallas Tx. or others like it.
    Usually, 3-12 hr shifts (you choose the days), week day or 2-12hr on week end. 5 to 6 pt. load, but, the pressure is still very much present.
    Good luck,
    Last edit by BHVHTX on Dec 28, '06
  10. by   rn/writer
    I switched from med-surg to psych and found it to be a good niche for a long time. I'd probably still be in psych except that a close family member had severe psych needs for a number of years and I felt like I had to deal with psych issues 24/7.

    Before you make the leap, maybe ask for a job shadow experience or do some volunteering on the kind of unit you would want to work in. My focus was mainly child and adolescent along with some eating disorder and substance abuse issues. I liked these units better than adult or geropsych where we were limited in the kinds of consequences that could be used for negative behaviors. The kids were generally angry but honest. The adults were angry as well, but many had been in the mental health system so long that they were "treatment wise" and health resistant. It might be the particular clientele my hospital had. You might have a different experience.

    Psych can be fascinating and rewarding. The most important thing for you to do before making the switch, though, is to work through any issues you might have. Not saying you have any, just wanting to point out that the psych population is pretty saavy and they sometimes try to exploit areas of personal weakness. You don't have to be perfect, just aware and careful.

    I wish you well in your quest.
  11. by   MALE*RN*777
    You sound just like I did. I worked for about 8 months between Extended Care and Med/Surg before going to Psych. Its the true psych pts. I love, I could do without the drug addicts, criminals, and those who just don't want to work pts.
  12. by   NurseCard
    I've been in psych for only about seven months and am wanting to go back to Med/Surge. Psych is a great field for many reasons, but I personally don't like being the head of the team (as the RN) and having to make all of the decisions and decide all of the interventions whenever ANYONE on my 22 bed unit decides to go ballistic. I also miss all of the "running around" of Med/Surge that many nurses hate. I miss staying busy. One of the reasons that I wanted to go to Psych was because of the slower pace, but I've found that that doesn't work for me as well as I thought it would! Maybe later on down the road, when I'm older and I can't physically do Med/Surge anymore, maybe this would be a good field for me to come back to. For now though, maybe I wasn't as ready to leave the "regular hospital" (as I'm always calling it) as I thought I was.
  13. by   Psychaprn
    Good luck if you decide to change. Don't change just because you're tired of running around-you will still be running around at times. Change because you want to use your best tool-yourself. Because you care for people and are fascinated by them, because you're non-judgemental and open minded. Also-if you're serious about it obtasin a course of individual therapy to become aware of your issues, strengths and weaknesses. I've worked with nurses who changed to psych because they thought it was "easier". They were either terrible psych nurses, got hurt or were dissatisfied. As for certification, do it to assure yourself of your own competency, to learn and be caught up on the most current issues, treatments etc.