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RN with past psych probs as psych nurse?


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Specializes in Psych. Violence & Suicide prevention.. Has 43 years experience.

I don't see any problem with a nurse who has had psych issues working in psych as long as the nurse has worked to resolve those issues and come to terms with them.

Another thing to keep in mind is you don't need to be sharing your past or even current problems with your psych patient. No "Oh, I know just how you feel, I've been through the same thing." It could be an easy trap to fall into. You aren't there to share with the patient. But your own experiences can give you more empathy than a nurse who's never suffered through these things.

My psych NP told me that he treats many nurses and doctors, even other psych NP's. It's not uncommon. The job can be stressful and bring up emotions and issues that have been repressed. YOU MUST stay vigilant about your own mental health and continue to be involved with treatment. Not only will it help you, but you will be a bigger asset to your patient.

As for suppressing your personal feelings, I think we all have been deeply affected by patients that have similar issues as we do. It's ok. I have had psychiatrists and even my own psych NP cry when I told them my story. It made me feel understood, cared about, and that I would be taken seriously.

My husband also sees a therapist a few times per month. His therapist has shared some of his past experiences. I think you have to pick and choose who to share your information with, and be cautious about going into details, but letting them know that you have had a similar (not the same) issue can be very therapeutic for the patient, especially after you've developed a long term therapeutic relationship with them. Just keep in mind that YOU are there for THEM, and not the other way around.

In clinical post conference one day I admitted that I cried in front of a patient and I was worried that I made a mistake by doing that. My instructor told me that as long as I was shedding tears for HIM, not ME, that there was nothing wrong with what I did. Maybe other's will not share her opinion, or mine, but it's a call you'll have to make based on the situation. Just be careful to keep the focus on them.

If you want your patient to open up to you, sometimes you have to open up to them (albeit on a much more limited basis). Show empathy, show compassion, show that you care and that you take them seriously. Show them that you understand them. Chances are, they've been waiting for you all of their lives. Now go find them!

It used to be thought that psychiatric illnesses affected a very small percentage of the population. We now know that conservatively 25% of the U.S. population will seek treatment for a mental illness in their lifetime. Nurses certainly are not exempt. Many nurses go on to be treated like any layperson would be, taking their medications as prescribed, going to follow up appointments and oftentimes counseling.

There will always be the "bad apples" (so to speak) of the group that may possibly enjoy working hypomanic, enjoy their voices (because they keep them company) or enjoy the secondary gains of being the center of the hurricane with Borderline Personality Disorder. It is that 1% that needs to stay FAR away from psych nursing, but they do seem to find their way in from time to time. It is our job to monitor our peers for these types of non-therapeutic milieu issues and report to our managers.

One more thing.

Those that do have psychiatric illnesses of their own need to remember that they need to be highly selective about which (if any) patients they share this information with. I've seen this consistently do more damage than good in a therapeutic relationship. You have no control over who the patient shares this information with. It may very well be someone you wouldn't ordinarily want to know, either in *or* out of the hospital.

Hi! :idea:This thread crossed my eye because I in fact do have a mental illness and I am just finishing up my first semester of prerequisites for the nursing program . How about that! I am not sure if I want to go into psychiatric nursing, but I am sure I would make an excellent one because I have an insight into what it is like to be agitated, depressed, paranoid and mentally ill. I have been on medication for 2 1/2 years and it works wonders. I strongly believe that the afflicted can get better if they recieve treatment early- just like any other illness! Let me know what you think.


Specializes in Behavioral Health, Show Biz.


RN with past psych issues...this one puzzles me.

We ALL get sick---whether it be medical and/or psychological sooooooo...

Where do we draw the line?

SHOULD we draw the line?

I've witnessed a co-worker with "psych problems" practice on my adult, inpatient unit and the patients sometimes perceive that "she acts like a patient."

And WE are NOT amused at her rigidity, rituals and lack of team-player skills.

The issue is a tough one to call. :o

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