Working as a psychiatric nurse is challenging, varied, demanding, rewarding, exciting at times, physically and mentally demanding and most of all, unpredictable. Working with individuals with a mental illness is not for everyone. There are a set of skills that are essential in being a good mental health nurse. If you have them, you can make a huge difference to peoples lives.
Academic and physical requirements for psychiatric nursing
To become a psychiatric nurse, you must have completed a degree in the subject. The course involves learning about various illnesses as well as the rules, regulations and theories that underpin becoming an effective health professional.
As a mental health nurse, you will be be involved in working with people that may be aggresive and violent. A neccesary part of nursing is learning the correct way to restrain people so that that they can receive medication or stopping them from being a risk to themselves or someone else.
Hospitals run "management of aggression" courses that teach you what you need to know. Nursing also involves helping people who have difficulty moving around without help, especially in the case of the elderly.
Mental abilities and personality types in nursing
The mental demands of psychiatric nursing As a psych nurse you have a lot of responsibility and your mind must be agile enough to be able to make decisions quickly, and correctly, under pressure. As well as working with patients you will have a lot of paper work to complete on a regular basis. You will also need to have a good working knowledge of the mental health act that is in force where you are working. Learning to keep cool under pressure is hugely important. Trying to defuse a situation when you are stressed is only going to make the siuation worse. Knowing your limits is very important too, their is no shame in admitting that you are stuck and need help. The vital role of your personality As a psychiatric nurse, you will meet people who are at their most vulnerable physical and mental state. The way you react and treat such people will have a huge impact on their recovery and behaviour. It is vital that you never judge an individual, that you are open and honest with people and that you are approachable and good at talking to people. It is also important that, no matter how busy the ward is, you can cope with pressure enough to make time to talk to your patients. A sense of humour and patience by the bucket load are also invaluable skills in succeeding in the world of mental health nursing.