My boyfriend recently graduated in December and was hired as an RN on the psych floor at a hospital. He likes it, but he also would like to do other things like work on other floors (e.g. ED, family practice) or as a travel nurse.
He is concerned that he is being pigeonholed or will get himself stuck in psych nursing. He thinks this because he doesn’t get to use his medical knowledge or skills. He reads to keep the knowledge fresh in his mind even though he is not applying it right now.
If he stays on this psych floor for a year or two is he pigeonholing himself in psych nursing? Will he be able to transition to other floors without more medical experience?
Dear Donna replies:
For what it’s worth, my first job out of nursing school was in psych. I loved it and worked there for six months until I transitioned into an ED position and stayed there for many years. That psych experience sure came in handy!
If your boyfriend wants to get into more traditional specialties, now might be the time to do that. It’s not that he is “pigeonholing” himself because nurses move around from specialty to specialty throughout their careers. That’s the beauty of the profession. But in his case, because he is a new nurse, the longer he stays away from the more “medical” specialties, the more reluctant some employers may be to hire him into one of those positions. Also, once he is out of school for a year or more, he may no longer qualify for a new grad orientation or residency something that would be very valuable to him as a new nurse.
That being said, with the job market being tight in many parts of the country, many new grads are working in non-traditional areas. The worst thing that can happen if he stays in psych for a few years is that he might (it’s not definite) be required (or he may want to do this for his own confidence level) take a nursing refresher course.
His other option would be to stay in psych and look for a part-time job in an ED or other hospital specialty where he could “practice” the skills he wishes to develop. I wouldn’t want him to get burned out by working too much, but this is another option. This way, if he ever decided to transition out of psych, he’d already have one foot in the door elsewhere.
Tell him to journal about his dilemma (write it down on paper or computer), discuss it with a former instructor or trusted colleague and then follow his heart. I’m sure he’ll make the right decision for himself. Besides, there are no wrong decisions; only different lessons to learn.
Best wishes to you both,