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To be or not to be a psych nurse

Psychiatric   (3,834 Views 13 Comments)
by marcnaslipknot marcnaslipknot (New Member) New Member

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Hi I am a new grad and I have been applying for jobs here in Omaha like crazy. There is a lot of psych jobs open and I have even been contacted by a recruiter about one. I would love to do psych but I dont want to be boxed in so that I can't get a med surg job in say a year or two. Does working psych right out of school "lock" you into that position or can you move to a med surg position later down the road? Any help that you could shed on this would be great. Thanks!!!

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Davey Do has 35 years experience and specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

14 Followers; 1 Article; 75,848 Visitors; 6,115 Posts

Does working psych right out of school "lock" you into that position or can you move to a med surg position later down the road? !

Valid question. From my experience: Sometimes. Sometimes not.

Personally, I started out in Psych, in a the hospital I graduated from, as an LPN in 1983. I knew it would be a way to get my foot in the Medical Nursing door. From there I've worked many other areas of Nursing.

However, I know of those who can't seem to transcend their first professional area of Nursing.

The differece may be that I made quite a nuisance of myself in the Medical areas of Nursing. I did this as I worked my first Psych Nursing job. I was motivated. I may have made it into the Medical areas also because I had EMT experience before getting into Nursing. Who knows?

But I believe one can attain any goal that they set their mind to attain.

Good luck in your endeavors, marcnaslipknot.

Dave

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Brycemom, RN specializes in LTC.

2,548 Visitors; 86 Posts

I'm hoping you'll get more responses to your post, because I am faced with the same dilema and don't know what to do. Thanks for posting

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1,888 Visitors; 163 Posts

So am I.

With a BA in Psych, I think it could be easier to get a Psych job. But that is NOT the only reason why I'm interested in Psych. I had Psych clinical last 8 weeks and I really liked it.

We graduate in May of 2011 and we have to start thinking about preceptorship. And I'd be interested to do one on a Psych unit somewhere. There's been a couple of people who've done them on a Psych unit. I asked my clinical instructor today the same question you asked Brycemom RN, because I've got the same exact question as you. She said no- but told me that talking to one of the Psych instructors who run the Psych clinicals might be a good idea.

Cheryl

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mtdnk has 28 years experience and specializes in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing.

3,192 Visitors; 65 Posts

You might consider med-surg per diem. That way you'll have the best of both worlds!

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1,805 Visitors; 116 Posts

I was also advised that once you have your foot in the door at a hospital, there are opportunities for float or per diem on other units- so that you can get experience in both. It is also easier to transfer within a hospital, then get in from outside (or so I've seen). Have my second interview for inpatient psych today! Cross your fingers :)

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6,538 Visitors; 137 Posts

For a new Grad such as yourself, I say get all the notches on your belt as you can. Psych experience looks GREAT on a resume!!

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3,065 Visitors; 73 Posts

I graduated when the recession hit hard. No one would hire me except a private psych hospital in another state. I got some excellent experience there, thrown into the fire, sink or swim. I made this decision because I had to support myself. I recommend if you have a choice go for the med/surg 1st, get that under your belt, then do the psych. No one will give me a chance working medical now, I have the "Psych" label. Thank God, though, I love psych, I'm good at it, and am currently doing travel psych.

Good luck to you.

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10,390 Visitors; 1,381 Posts

Ideally, you could work in med-surg for a year and then try psych, if you're unsure. But there aren't enough medsurg jobs for all new grads, and for the few who know they'll want to do that specialty for the rest of their career, it would be unnecessary.

I think if you spend more than a few years just in psych, it would be challenging to switch to medical nursing. It seems unfair, since you'll see your share of BPs tanking, O2 sats droping, rapid response teams, IVs, wounds, central lines, feeding tubes, and even a few code blues.... But these situations do happen less often on a psych floor than on medsurg ( although some medical nurses are under the impression that they don't happen at all--our patients, after all, are supposed to be medically stable).

That said, I just got an interview for a medsurg position after a year of psych, albeit after many, many applications. Knowing it could be a challenge to switch, I've taught CPR classes and such to show continued interest in the medical side of nursing. If you do accept the position, try to keep your finger in the pot in other things until you know psych is what you want to do.

Good luck!

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572 Visitors; 2 Posts

I graduated 2 years ago, and although psych nursing is what I wanted to do, I decided to start in med surg first. It was a good decision. I am now starting a new job in psych, but Im glad I have med surg experience under my belt. If you can I agree that you should try to find a per diem position in med surg. And, med surg is 75% psych anyway lol. Good luck!

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1,797 Visitors; 53 Posts

gnursjr2: How did you get into travel psych nursing? I'm very interested in doing that some day down the road!

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531 Visitors; 2 Posts

I"m glad this post exists. I have been a working on a psyche floor(as a new grad) for about a year now but was able to cross-train to med-surge. My hospital actually made me spend four weeks working in a med-surge unit over Christmas time just to make sure they could float me around and stuff. I love my floor and the people i work for but I am hoping it isn't too hard for me to find a med-surge job when the time comes(if i move, or look for something new). My hospital also went ahead and paid for me to take pals/acls. Anyone else ever made the transition from psyche to med-surge??? any tips?

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