Quote from Wannabenurseneko
What is it like to be a psych nurse , what are the psych nurses responsibilities , what is a typical day in the life of a psych nurse ?. Tell me the good the bad .
I speak from a nurses perspective working in psychiatric acute care. I don't know how it differs from outpatient psych nursing because I haven't worked outpatient. Also, adult and senior units are usually different than how my unit is ran.
The number one responsibility is to keep patients SAFE. They have to meet certain criteria to be hospitalized where they are threatening to harm themselves or someone else, or, in some cases "unable to care for themselves." This last one does not usually apply to my patient population of 12-18 year olds, who have adults who are responsible for their care. We make sure that they do not have access to anything that can be used to harm themselves. No strings, scissors, knives, etc, and they usually are not allowed in their rooms during the day. They are encouraged to attend groups, and not allowed to sleep all day.
A typical day starts with 30 minutes of report. All nurses in my unit are present for report from the previous shift's charge nurse to hear report on all patients, which is anywhere from 12-18 patients. The oncoming charge nurse determines assignments which include who will pass medications, who will lead groups, which mental health techs will be assigned on any one-to-ones and patient assignments. Charge nurse usually starts the admissions and discharges, but all of us contribute to both admissions and discharges. There is a lot to do, including patient intake assessment, notifying the doctors, verifying home medications, putting in orders, vitals, documentation of personal property, unit orientation, etc.
The morning usually entails waking the patients up, encouraging ADLs, breakfast, and medications. Groups fill up most of the morning, lunch, and then more groups. During all of these activities, vitals are done, doctors (in our case a pediatrician and our psychiatrist,) and the social workers/case workers pull each of the patients out to talk to them individually. Patient assessments are done by the nurses, usually in the morning, and we document in the computer between activities. It is a very highly-organized and chaotic dance, actually.
We answer phone calls from parents, call parents when a patient wants to call their parents, manage visitations, and patient outbursts/breakdowns/whatever. Crying, screaming, attitudes and vomiting are all common. Oh, and we have to lock patients out of their rooms for one hour after meals if they are known to purge.
We do room checks every shift to make sure there is no contraband.
Basically, we are busy the entire shift. And I love it.