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Switching from psych to medical nursing?

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16BitSalt has 7 years experience and specializes in Inpatient Psych/Behavioral Health.

201 Profile Views; 29 Posts

I was hoping I could get some input from nurses who stayed in psych or made the transition to any form of medical nursing (med surg, ER, ICU, etc). 

I am a psychiatric nursing assistant and have worked in psych for 10 years in some capacity. The main emphasis of my job is to run groups and use therapeutic communication as it pertains to mental health issues. I currently work for the VA (inpatient psych) and my floor specializes in schizophrenia/psychotic disorders/depression with acute suicide attempts. Psych is all I know and it's what I'm good at; the transition to psych nursing would be relatively easy for me as the scope of practice for psych nurses is very familiar to me (mental health admission assessments and psychiatric med administration). 

I graduate with my ADN in May and am contracted to work for the VA as a nurse for three years. I've started to enjoy bedside nursing and I'm starting to really think I'd like to work on a neuro floor, either the ICU or a stroke floor (my current clinical floor is neuro-telemetry). My bosses at work would really like me to stay in psych, and I know I'd be good at it (I can't choose where the VA puts me due to my contract but they can request I stay at my request). My school has offered us the opportunity to precept on a psych floor, and this is our ONLY opportunity to choose exactly where we precept. However, I'm really torn because I think I'd like to precept in med surg nursing or something medical, even though my skills aren't as strong by a long shot, and I DO love psych too. 

I am also planning to work on my BSN in the fall and then choose a BSN-DNP program after that. I don't know if I'll want to specialize as a psychiatric NP or do something like adult-gerontology acute care, and part of me thinks I'm doing myself a disservice by staying in psych. 

Do any psych nurses have some input? Have any of you transitioned from psych to medical? 



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Nature_walker has 4 years experience as a ASN, BSN, RN and specializes in psych.

209 Posts; 4,278 Profile Views

I did. I was in emergency psych department for 2.5 years and left for a pain treatment center. It is a meg/surg floor and I had a lot to learn but my coworkers were very supportive when I started. I had no iv skills, zero knowledge of sedation or how to use the iv pumps. My coworkers took a chance on me as I was willing to learn and really wanted to do well in this environment. 

I've been there for almost 2 years now. I found that my psych skills are very helpful and that I'm able to talk people through the procedures. However, I am thinking that someday I'd like to go back to psych because I really enjoyed that aspect of nursing. For now, I content to keep learning where I am. I've mastered most iv's. I'm good with sedation and recovery now. IV pumps are still a bit of a mystery as we only use them for infusions and we don't see them that much. If it wasn't for coworkers with the patience of all the saints I would have run back to psych shortly after starting. Learning something so foreign has been good for me. 

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