So when I was in high school, lo these many eons and centuries ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I went to a magnet school. The program I went to was a health occupations program, and at the end of that particular ordeal I announced that I was neeeeeeeever gonna be a nurse.
And twenty-odd years later I entered nursing school.
Okay fine, things change. It’s all good.
And while I was in nursing school, people would ask me if I was going to be a psych nurse. After all, I had all those years of working in community mental health. And so I announced that I was neeeeeeeeever gonna be a psych nurse.
And then I graduated, and a few things happened. First, I put in about a bazillion applications, but thanks to the crappy economy there are not a lot of internships and there are a lot of hiring freezes and so forth. New nurses, aside from the lucky few and those with connections and so forth, generally have to be satisfied with jobs in long term care and that sort of thing. I graduated with honors, and my practicum was a regional burn center — and that’s a hard environment! But I couldn’t even get a phone call, an interview, anything. Just emails, “Thanks but no thanks.” It was like I didn’t exist, and all the work of the past three and a half years was just so much spitting in the wind.
Then I began to hear the complaints of my fellow students who did land jobs in long term care and med/surg nursing. The patient load is all but unmanageably heavy, they are rushing around for 12 hours at a time terrified that they are missing something important. Orders get missed, they can’t spend any time really learning about their patients’ issues, and more than one has told me that they hate their job. But also that they suspect that all nursing jobs are like this. It’s hard work.
I am no stranger to hard work and I’m not lazy. I’d rather be busy than not, and I like the idea of doing something worthwhile. But there has to be a limit.
Finally I started applying for those jobs that I had not really considered before, and thanks in part to my lengthy work history I got a few interviews and — at last! — a couple of oncall jobs. One of them is psych nursing. Some things I’m not that keen on, such as 8 hour shifts instead of 12, but the pay is surprisingly about the same as a med/surg hospital job, and I’m finding that… well… (whispers) I’m kind of enjoying it. There isn’t really a lot of downtime, it’s a busy environment, and managing psychiatric and detox (and both) patients is not a lot of fun sometimes, but it’s important work.
It turns out that I’m a psych nurse.