5 Things to Know About Being a Psych Nurse

If you are thinking of becoming a psych nurse, you are exploring a challenging and rewarding career! As with any career, learning about those challenges and rewards are ahead of time is helpful. This article will answer the questions you have by detailing the 5 top things you should know.

1. What are the patients like?

One of the biggest challenges as a psych nurse is working with people who are having a wide variety of emotional experiences, and never knowing which each moment will bring. Some patients are severely distressed, while some are completely incoherent. Some may be living in an internal world that is vastly different from the physical world you are experiencing. People in need of psychiatric services are at their most vulnerable.

2. What skills and qualities do I need?

If helping people through these experiences is something you think you would like doing, ask yourself if you possess these important qualities for being a pscyh nurse:

  • Tough Skin – Patients will sometimes become very hostile towards you, and you must be able to perform your duties with compassion for them and without taking it personally. You will also witness people in states of extreme distress and bear witness to stories of trauma.
  • Emotional Intelligence – It is crucial to be able to understand what emotions might cause or be caused by their physical symptoms. You must also be able to recognize and appropriately manage your own emotional responses to your work.
  • Unwavering Patience – For patients experiencing psychiatric issues, every task is a challenge, and it often takes doctors a while to find the right combination of physiological and mental treatment to help them.
  • Interpersonal Skills – Not only will you have to know how to interact with each unique patient, but you be a point of contact between the patient, the doctors, and the patients’ families. You have to simultaneously wear your medical and bedside manner hats.

3. How do I choose a degree program?

Psych nursing is only one specific nursing arena, so inquire with programs about how much they focus on it. Also inquire about how many opportunities there are for early exposure to the field as part of your education. The more, the better! US News has put together a current list of the best mental health nursing programs across the United States: click here for more!

4. Where can I work?

As a psych nurse, you can work in medical settings ranging from small and intimate clinics to large and bustling hospitals. If you find that you also love teaching, you can eventually pursue a master’s degree and help teach future generations of nurses!

5. What is the average salary?

Most entry level positions pay hourly, between $20 and $30. The longer you work in the field, the higher you can move up, and the more you can make. The best way to find out what psych nurses make and which jobs are available for them to work up to in your area is to search current openings at places you might like to work.

You are now equipped with all the information you need to decide if psych nursing is a good career option for you. Refer to this article as often as you need as you move through the journey!