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Why did you choose psych nursing?

Psychiatric   (750 Views | 7 Replies)
by FloForLyfe FloForLyfe (New) New Nurse

117 Profile Views; 10 Posts

Do you have a family member or did you yourself experience mental health issues? Do you believe in "good" versus "bad" people? Do you have specific religious beliefs that guide your work-life balance?

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verene is a MSN and specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

1,561 Posts; 9,920 Profile Views

I like to think psych nursing chose me. I had no idea when I applied for a position at a local ALF as a new CNA that the ALF was for individuals with SMI.  They offered me the position and I was desperate for a job at the time - I had doubts but figured I could do anything for a few months while looking for something else. I ended up staying nearly 2 years and was hooked on working in mental health. It is this experience that opened the doorway for me to psych nursing - I doubt I would have considered this field with out that experience.

I think having had family and friends impacted by mental illness, as well as some of my own experience with stress/anxiety/burn out probably helped me adapt to working in this field, but if anything having individuals in my personal life affected was one factor that made me initially reluctant to work in mental health - I wasn't sure I would be able to separate my personal experience from my professional role. I think it does keep me mindful though that my patients are far more than their current acute presentation - I am in all likelihood seeing them at their worst - and my job is to help them get back to who they are at their best.

I believe people are people and everyone is doing more or less the best they can with the resources they have available to them in that moment. I think "good" vs "bad" when speaking of people is completely inappropriate - all of us have potential for both, and what is "good" or "bad" in one situation may be  the opposite in another.

It would be impossible for me to say that my spiritual beliefs have no impact or influence on my work, however my role requires that the *patient's* spiritual beliefs come first in my day-to-day interactions.  I have enough familiarity with other faiths that I can engage in surface level dialog around a number of different traditions and will refer to my colleagues in Spiritual Care as needed.  If any of my coworkers or patients can accurately identify my own personal beliefs and religious identity I would be very, very surprised as it isn't something I bring up at work.

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10 Posts; 117 Profile Views

I noticed your word choice for decision making. ✅ 

Before learning about nursing I tended to be pretty judgemental. Being perceived as callousness or cold-hearted does not help others to feel accepted. Learning that compassion is not a simple word has been interesting and difficult. I have learned from you response, thank you. 

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8 Posts; 159 Profile Views

On 12/22/2019 at 4:47 PM, FloForLyfe said:

I noticed your word choice for decision making. ✅ 

Before learning about nursing I tended to be pretty judgemental. Being perceived as callousness or cold-hearted does not help others to feel accepted. Learning that compassion is not a simple word has been interesting and difficult. I have learned from you response, thank you. 

"Before learning about nursing I tended to be pretty judgemental."

This is absolutely me. I went into the nursing field (CNA) at 19. I was soooo judgemental. And ppl actually called me "stuck up" a LOT.

Today, after 20 years, 1 as a CNA, 18 as a LPN and now as an RN, I have seen so many things, situations and different people that I am now the least judgemental person at my job. 

Seeing people at their very worst gives you insight into humans. Nursing is the best thing I've ever done.

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10 Posts; 117 Profile Views

Ah, so true. Most days I am pretty non-judgemental, but every now and again my judgemental personality reemerges. I originally wanted to be strictly a psych nurse, but I changed my mind pretty quick. It is tough though, because in a med-surge environment it is easy to identify who the psych patients are in a timely fashion. 

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121 Posts; 2,611 Profile Views

My mom has severe mental illness. I’ve had my own challenges with depression/anxiety, and I’ve had friends with various mental illnesses.

I don’t necessarily believe that there are “bad” people—in general. I mean, Jeffrey Dahmer was very evil. However, when it comes to my patients, I don’t ever think they are bad people. Some of them just make some really bad choices. Plus, I work with teens and most of them have suffered quite a bit of trauma.

I don’t know that I have religious beliefs that guide my practice that much. I sometimes pray before a shift and I’ve been known to pray to myself when I’m with an escalated patient. 

 

 

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verene is a MSN and specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

1,561 Posts; 9,920 Profile Views

2 hours ago, FloForLyfe said:

Ah, so true. Most days I am pretty non-judgemental, but every now and again my judgemental personality reemerges. I originally wanted to be strictly a psych nurse, but I changed my mind pretty quick. It is tough though, because in a med-surge environment it is easy to identify who the psych patients are in a timely fashion. 

I'm curious what initially drew you to psych-nursing and then what drew you away?  My personal experience is that it is much more difficult to manage psych patients in non-psych settings because of workflow, lack of support/resources, and rooms that are not set up to be safe environments for the suicidal or highly agitated patient, as well as general stigma against mental health including a LOT of judgementalism from staff and lack of staff comfort in managing patients with mental health diagnoses.

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10 Posts; 117 Profile Views

I was initially drawn to psych nursing because I have been an inpatient psych patient about four times. Therefore, I am maybe more familiar with some of the stories leading up to mental breakdowns, loss of moral fabric, hopelessness, and general pessimism. It hurts my feelings sometimes knowing how good all of "nurses" have it made. We are able to make basic decisions every day that we completely take for granted. The sharp pain of not saying anything to confront a seeminly cold-hearted nurse because I know that it will interefere with my job -- intereferes with my job. Ironically these statements can be made not only in (without?) regard to psych-stigmatized statements but also simple actions such as an audible rolling of the eyes, withholding information, justifying the condition of the patient, or --sad to admit it-- the dreaded "what are we doing here"? 

Through my inpatient and outpatient programs I have been enrolled in many classes for mental health, mindfulness, and cognitive-based methods. I even enrolled in a college-level class. In nursing school it became morally damaging to hear the other nurses speak down on this specialty, or at least how I percieved statements such as "I became a psych nurse because I could not get a job anywhere else", "once you become a psych nurse it is hard to break out of the specialty", "I could never be a psych nurse", and "this rotation is so annoying". I also found that my clinical instructor was seemingly particularly emblazened to find every possible critique about my assignments and school work. 

My mom said a few times that she wishes I could go to school speciafically to become a psych nurse. Thank you for asking, Verene. 

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