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Pro and cons of Psych Nurse

What is it like to be a Psych Nurse? Is it a growing field?

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Darcel’s Answer

Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to mental health nursing. You could be caring for people who are suffering from all kinds of emotional and mental distress. This can range from drug addiction to eating disorders to schizophrenia. Yet, they need someone who is kind and caring and attempting to understand their situation. That’s where you come in! It can be rewarding to help others with such personal struggles and to eventually see them heal.

We’ve already hinted at this, but since there is a current shortage of mental health workers that will only grow with time – you will have job security if you choose to get into this profession.

There are many different types of mental health nursing positions, from LPN to RN. Plus, you can work in a variety of settings. For example, you could work in a nursing home, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, or in a hospital. Mental illness touches virtually everyone, from children to the elderly.
You may have very difficult and aggressive patients. Although you will care for them with the same tenderness as you do all of your other patients – you may never get that thank you card in mental health nursing. Often times, you are there for your patients during some of the most difficult times in their life. Once they move on you may not hear from them again or know for sure how your hard work paid off.

Let’s face it. You care about people, so chances are you are going to get emotionally attached to your patients and personally invested in their recovery. You will be faced with a variety of emotional situations if you choose to enter mental health nursing, so the risk for stress and burnout in this specialty is high.

Some patients, depending on their struggles, can be violent and angry. You have to be prepared for this, and understand that sometimes you may have physical confrontations with your patients. Of course, there is security available. However, until they arrive you may have to try to get aggressive situations under control.

Now you know the pros and cons of mental health nursing, and that there are lots of jobs available across the country. If you are still thinking about working as a psych nurse, the industry needs people like you! Yet, as we covered already, it is important to understand the demands of the job before jumping in head first. Try volunteering at a facility to get a feel for what the work is like, and make your own pro-con list. Once you dabble in this specialty, you could also become a travel psych nurse and experience all of the benefits of travel nursing.

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Marci’s Answer

Psychiatric nurses are in demand. The pros are you will likely always have a job. You will make more money than a general nurse without a specific specialization. The cons are that the psychiatric field has a higher burnout rate unless you take very good care of your own well being. Working with people with depression, trauma, and other psychiatric conditions can give you secondary trauma, so you must be very careful to lead a balanced life where you have time for exercise, vacations, time with family, and down time.

Thank you! Follow up question: what do they exactly do? Do they give medication, eta? Maria E.