Medical nurse vs. Psych nurse– As a mental health nurse I have heard over the years many times that we are not "real nurses", we are babysitters. I would always just smile and shake my head – whatever. I have never in my nursing career ever felt less of a nurse. When I was younger I allowed a few people to make me feel small or that I did not know as much as I needed as a nurse, however, that too changes with the years. No one will make me feel small unless I give them permission (and that is not going to happen) and as far as feeling like a nurse? I feel blessed, talented, and totally able to take care of our mental health patients when they come into the hospital.
In nursing school, most programs give very little attention to mental health. It last about two weeks and one or two rotations in the field to expose the students. Most people are scared of mental health because of the age old stigma that comes with the programming that all mental illness are aggressive, mean and scary. That is far from true, you know someone who has mental illness.
Mental health nurses have to use different skills to assess a patient whom are too sick to take care of themselves. Even though they are in pain the voices in their head could be telling them it is a joke or not real. They could be so confused they do not know that their own health is in danger.
When a patient walks into the ER or rolls in on a stretcher most of the time they are able to talk or have someone with them that can help share what is going on and the reason they are there. However, there are many cases that roll in and they have to assess an unconscious patient and begin applying help without the assessment from conversation. Without thinking they have a standard set of orders that are applied to that patient by opening a line with an IV, adding O2 for better breathing, and assessing the body for bleeding, and life threatening injury. Then the doctor arrives for the next step.
When a mental health patient arrives in the medical hospital, and has sliced his neck from one ear to the other, and losing lots of blood, or has sliced their wrist and have a great desire to die or even overdosed on medication. These injuries are cared for with the skill to repairs the body on the outside. They are in the right place for help.
As a mental health nurse who admits a new patient that was just discharged from the medical hospital to the mental health hospital. We now have a fresh post surgery patient with a fresh wound, dressing changes to be done, infection control issues, and someone who has a desire to die that is not sharing all the information the staff needs to give proper care. The assessment skills have to kick in for observation on the mental status, observe the fresh wounds gathering information to provide for the doctor.
When I think of medical health vs. mental health I look at the two as team work. Without both sets of nurses skills these patients would not have survived. The body needed to be repaired so healing could begin the next step would be for mental healing.
People forget that patients in a medical hospital have mental health issues also – there is a large population of patients that are laying in a medical bed with mental health issues that are not in our hospital. The mind and body has to be treated as one unit. Without one the other does not work well.
When a mental health crisis happens and a patient attempts to harm themselves the mental health nurse must spring into action to protect the person. Many times that person will fight the staff reaching for anything they can find to cut, swallow,harm themselves or others. Sometimes they successfully cause greater harm to themselves and need medical attention. Once the patient is brought under control the injury has to be given care, mental assessment, IV's started for transfer, O2 added for breathing can be applied if needed,the family has to called, receive new doctors orders to apply, 911 professionals to translate information so this person can have the best medical care that can be given once they arrive in the ER.
Each nurse has a specialty and because both the mind and body are one unit they need professional care givers that will raise the odds of receiving the best nursing care possible and will bring overall health to another human.
The next time you hear that mental health nursing is a babysitting job and that the nurses are not real nurses. I hope you will think of this post and smile as this person strokes their ego and speaks about a profession that takes as many skills – just of another kind. We are a team whether medical or mental health nurses and each role has confidence in the care we give for the type of patients we choose to serve.
You are reading our 100th post on angelabrook.com
Angela Brooks is a leading distributor of Young Living Essential Oils. Dedicated to natural health solutions, Brooks provides people with healing alternatives without harsh side effects. Additionally, Brooks is a mental health nurse committed to bringing mental happiness to the nursing profession by motivating and supporting nurses around the country.
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