Several posts back, I cracked a light joke about being forced to be a psych nurse and thereby unintentionally offended two readers. Now that I’ve had some experience in psych nursing and I’m anticipating entering my last week of clinical rotations, what do I have to say about my psych experience? Well, it is not bad. It is not easy. It is definitely different. It requires a different sort of energy, a mental energy (no pun intended). A big majority of the patients I dealt with had suicidal tendencies/ideations. Their stories were infused with loneliness, frustration, self-worthlessness. It was very sad and I felt very much for them. I think in some ways they were happier to be in the hospital than to be at home. Then there were the patients who were really sort of “out there,” i.e., chronic liars or those truly experiencing psychotic episodes. They were the ones that were out of a storybook with their tales of having 25 babies inside of them or the end of the world happening the week before, and didn’t I know that, don’t I remember??
One of the highlights of my clinical rotation has been one nurse on the unit–I’ll call her Denise–who is absolutely amazing. She has been a psych nurse for 25 years. She is calm, well spoken, and very open and inviting to us students–she wants us to learn and loves to teach us. If only more nurses were like this! I feel fortunate to have had an amazing clinical instructor my first semester and now this kind, giving nurse on the unit. Fingers crossed for more good luck in my next rotation.
On the flip side of that, we experienced our first out-of-school nasty nurse who had a sort of personal vendetta against us nursing students for no apparent reason. She would purposely gripe about us within ear’s reach, complain about some inconsequential thing, and never had a smile or positive thing to say. May she find serenity and peace of mind.
I’ll be honest, I’ve appreciated the reprieve of a kinder, more gentler kind of nursing. I just got done looking at pictures of pressure ulcers in various stages and I felt that familiar twinge and twist in my stomach. Memories of the ulcer that looked like ground meat are flashing through my mind. Ah, be prepared, my dear Fragile One, for what awaits you in Adult Health!
All in all, nursing is about taking care of a patient–whether they’re in the ED, surgical unit, psych unit, step-down, you name it. Nurses are compassionate advocates for the patients. So whatever kind of nurse I want to be, you want to be, it’s all good.