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Is a Career in Psychiatric Nursing Right for You?

Careers in nursing are popular for ambitious medical hopefuls all over the world. Medicine is one of the most exciting and rewarding fields in the world, and nurses are a vital part of the medical work force. What many nursing students fail to realize is that there are many different kinds of nursing in the field. Psychiatric nursing is one of the most complex and unique sub-fields of nursing, and it offers many rewards and challenges to its workers. If you’re breaking into the nursing field or thinking of making a career change, you may want to consider whether a career in psychiatric nursing is right for you.

Nurses in all fields experience a high level of face to face interaction with patients, and this is especially true in the world of psychiatric nursing. While most medical patients are suffering from physical ailments, the problems of psychiatric patients are largely confined to the mind. The stigma attached to mental illness by society makes this an area that is often neglected and ignored, but it is no less valuable. Many psychiatric nurses find their work incredibly rewarding, as they are laboring to help people in need who have been largely stigmatized by society.

Of course, the field of psychiatric nursing presents many unique difficulties to its workers. Communicating with psychiatric patients can range from difficult to nearly impossible, depending on the severity of condition. Many nurses are easily disturbed by the actions and words of psychiatric patients, which makes work uncomfortable and intimidating for them. Psychiatric medical care is also more complex and variable than traditional medicine. The same condition may present with different symptoms between patients, which can become a major obstacle in the process of healing. Finally, psychiatric treatment is a different process from the kind of work to which many nurses are accustomed. Psychiatric treatment takes time, and the healing process is not predictable.

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To succeed in this complicated and unique field requires a great amount of dedication. Many psychiatric nurses love their work and go home feeling very fulfilled, while others become quickly frustrated and overwhelmed. In order to find your place in the world of psychiatric nursing, you’ll need to figure out how well this kind of work will suit you personally. Psychiatric nurses need to be able to stay calm under pressure in order to avoid exciting their patients. They also need to be prepared to work with patients who may be withdrawn, incoherent, or even hostile. Be prepared to accept these challenges with enthusiasm.

Every nursing student, from Ohio University to UCLA, spends some time in a psychiatric rotation. This is an important aspect of nursing education, and will be your first look at the nature of psychiatric nursing work. You may find yourself well suited to this field, or your ambitions may take you elsewhere. If there is one point on which nurses agree, it is that psychiatric nursing requires passion. If you have a calling for this kind of work, you’re sure to succeed. If not, your ideal career may lie in another field.

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