Student Nurse needs advice...


Hello all! My name is Kristin and I am currently a senior, graduating in August, in a BSN nursing program. I have always had an interest in Psych nursing but I have been told by many of my nursing instructors that there is not as much opportunity available in this field (as far as climbing the ladder and burning out). I also am afraid that if I go into Psych nursing, that I will lose my nursing "skills" so to speak (medical). Any suggestions from Psych nurses would be greatly appreciated! Take care,



14,633 Posts

but I have been told by many of my nursing instructors that there is not as much opportunity available in this field (as far as climbing the ladder and burning out).

Well, I've been a psych nurse for 20 years, and that's the first time I've heard that one! I take it these are not your psych nursing instructors (that are saying this ...) :) There is just as much opportunity to "climb the ladder" as there is in any other specialty, and I don't see that the risk of burnout is any greater than any other specialty.

In fact, there seems to be a popular misconception that, if you've burned out in whatever your original choice of specialty was, you can always switch to psych because it's "easier." I've run into a number of nurses who have done this, and in each case I've been aware of, it's turned out badly (they find out it's not "easier" and they don't really care for psych nursing, so they leave before long and try something else).

Now, keeping up one's medical skills is a whole 'nother matter, and is a challenge in psych nursing. There are a number of threads here that discuss the old "year or two of med-surg before specializing in psych" controversy that you may want to find and review.

In the end, no one can decide what's best for you but you. Best wishes --


81 Posts

Has 7 years experience.

All through nursing school thats all I heard - get at least a year of med-surge etc. I don't agree - if you think you will like Psych then try it. You can always go back to med surge. Yes you will forget things you learned in school, but you can pick it back up quickly. I have not wanted to go back, and after 6 years geuss it would be hard, but if i had done 6 years of med surge it would be hard to go to Psych. :balloons:


9 Posts

I just joined today, but thought I would jump right in and respond to your questions. I just graduated in 2002 and went straight to psych nursing and am very happy with my work. Sure I've forgotten a few things, but like another said you can learn them again easily. Medical stuff still comes up in psych, as many of my residents have medical issues for me to help them with. Everthing from kidney failure to emphysema to Diabetes. There are a lot of health issues in psych and the population is aging, at least it seems to be around here. Plus my boss pays for me to take classes to update my knowledge and skills. Often your place of employment will offer them or you can find them pretty inexpensively. As far as moving up the ladder, well actually I'm leaving my current position in 2 weeks as I have found a better paying job in the field I truly desire, ped psych. I'm near St. Louis and we are not huge in psych, so if I can advance in my career just about anyone can. Also to add, no one else in my nursing class had any interest in psych, but my instructors never discouraged me and to this day still give me great references when I need them. Hope this helps, you just got to do what's right for you!

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