Switching from NICU to Psych



I've been a NICU nurse for two years this July. My background before nursing is in psych; my first bachelor's was in Psychology, then I worked in a group home for two years, followed by one year as a case manager. In the group home, I was the "client coordinator," basically doing assessments and coordinating care for 12 developmentally disabled adults, all of whom had a psychiatric diagnosis (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.). While I did administrative tasks, mostly, I did do a lot of hand's-on care with the clients, and also witnessed a lot of the challenges that come along with working with this population; i.e. a client had a coworker in a throat hold and tried to get a knife to cut him, getting poop thrown at me, threats of suicide (constantly)... the local PD knew all of the clients very well, and the house managers and I made numerous trips to the local psych wards.

As a case manager, I obtained Medicaid services for adults and children, mostly with physical disabilities, albeit there were certainly mental health challenges as well.

I love the NICU immensely, but I find myself missing psych a lot.

Would it be possible to move from NICU to psych? Would I be making a mistake by doing this? I admit that I don't have any nursing experience in a psychiatric unit and I can't say that I know 100% that I'd love working in a psychiatric unit, but the hospital I did my clinical rotations at for psych has multiple openings for psych nurses (also makes me wonder why they have so many openings...)

A much lesser consideration is that they also hire associate degree RNs... my husband will be done with his associate degree program in nursing next May, and I'm thinking that as an employee, I might be able to assist him in getting a job there as a new grad.

Any insight? I greatly appreciate it :)

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

4 Articles; 7,907 Posts

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Going from NICU to Psych is quite the jump...not impossible though. You may not have psych nursing experience but the fact that you did work with psych patients in the group home is relevant experience and may help you in transitioning over.

As far as being an ADN nurse affecting your chances...that depends a lot on the facility and your location.

Best of luck!

Specializes in NICU. Has 10 years experience.

Im kind of in the same boat. Starting nursing school I was the "psych" nurse because that is all I wanted. I did preceptorship on a closed unit and loved it. Worked my first nursing job in psych for 2 years, and then because of management and bureaucracy I ended up going to a busy level III NICU. I love it, love the babies, my coworkers are awesome, but any time we have a difficult family and we talk about psych issues, I bring up my stories and man do I miss psych. I don't talk about NICU nursing like I do about psych, even after being here in the NICU for 1 1/2 years. I just today accepted a PRN job back at my old psych facility. I couldn't help but be able to stay up to date on things and get back to what I truly love. The problem is, I feel I wasted my nursing degree being in psych because it's more communication and med passing then hands on assessments, IV's, things like that. I always said there's a difference between a psych nurse, and a nurse who works in psych. And still, to this day, I find myself referring to myself as a psych nurse... Guess I'm just scared to make that total transition back in to psych. Good luck to you, just wanted you to know you are no alone. People who love psych are a different bread, and no other unit can fulfill that love we have.