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Shadowing and/or Volunteering for Direct Entry PMHNP Programs

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Hi Everyone!

I'm planning on applying to Direct Entry MSN programs in the Fall that offer a specialization in Psychiatric nursing.

My question is about what kind of shadowing/volunteer experience would best prepare me for the field and would help most in the application process.

Currently I have no professional experience working in the mental health field or in the broader field of medicine/nursing and right now I'm worried that would be the biggest issue with my application, and for that reason I want to do everything that I can between now and next Fall to address those concerns.

Because an outsider can't gain first hand knowledge of the field by shadowing a psychiatric nurse or volunteering in a setting where psychiatric nursing is being carried out, I was wondering what the next best alternative would be.

Thanks in advance!

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Not a fan of these programs and would urge anyone who wants to be a psych NP to work on an inpatient acute unit before deciding a brief nursing progrm is sufficient to actually diagnose and prescribe medications to this vulnerable population. In my opinion there is no shortcut for the first hand experiences of seeing thousands of patients with different mental health presentations, giving out thousand of doses of medications so you actually know off the top of your head what a reasonable range is and the expected reactions both good and bad. At the very least at the BSN portion do your future patients the courtesy of getting some actual experience.

Mental health can be so different. During my mental health clinical, we were on a voluntary psych ward where majority of the patients were depressed/suicidal or had suicidal ideation. Some had other disorders mixed in.

Now I work in forensics/Geri psych and it's so different and eye opening. It's a world apart from "tell me how you feel..."

Are there psych hospitals near you? Mine is always hiring for nurses and techs. As a tech, they will train you and pay for your CNA. The experience will be valuable for your future career. You might decide psych isn't your thing after all.