Quote from NICUNurse2006
Do you think it would be a mistake to go directly into psych nursing?
It depends on what you want to do overall.
It used to be that you had to have one solid year of med/surg to be able to look at anything fun like CCU, ICU, NICU, etc. There are exceptions to that now, but they involve more medical focus, not less.
Psych is a whole 'nother animal from most nursing specialties. You learn a completely different kind of assessment and there is a limited emphasis on the medical side of things. Mostly meds, side effects, interactions, EPS, and the like.
There is a medical component to caring for eating disorder patients, bipolar patients, AODA patients, etc., but it's a means to an end and not an end in itself. Think of the reverse situation. A cardiac patient might need a psych consult to deal with depression, but that's maybe 10% of their care. A psych patient may need a medical attention to such matters as a tube feeding for an eating disorder patient or lab draws to monitor the liver function of someone on Depakote or managing withdrawal for a detox patient, but the main focus for your patients will be the mental/psycho-social/emotional realm.
The low level of medical emphasis doesn't reduce your need for med/surg background (or at least, med background). Because you'll have less exposure to medical situations on a psych unit, I think you actually need to have a stronger background. The nurses I worked with were all a bit concerned that their skills were starting to suffer after a few years on the unit. The ones who fared best when they wanted to go back to a more medical setting were the ones who had the best med/surg foundation.
The reality is that psych tends to burn people out, at least temporarily. Some nurses take breaks and come back. Some reach their limit and move to a completely different field. Many hospitals refuse to even look at nurses who don't have that magic year in med/surg.
I did all right with just six months, but I also had years of assessment experience as an EMT, and I took a two month refresher course to re-tool my thinking.
Maybe you can contact hospitals in your area and see how they would react to a nurse who wanted to get back into a medical area if she has only psych background.
I wish you well.