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Pearls of Wisdom From An Old Psych Nurse

Nurses are experts at navigating through rough waters. We are always there for our patients in their time of need. Check this nurse out. She is using her critical thinking skills while she sails her boat through a stormy ocean. It’s true. Nurses can do just about anything, just so long as they have a good mentor to show them the way.

From time to time, I get letters from new psych nurses asking me for advice.

I was very lucky when I first started out as a psych nurse. Nurses and doctors who gave me valuable tips when I was new in the field surrounded me on the unit, and made sure that I didn’t get myself into trouble. Here are some pearls of wisdom that my mentors passed onto me when I was the new kid on the block. I hope they help you, too.

Pearl of wisdom #1: The first rule that I learned was that I never was to accept abuse from a patient. Patients may be angry about how things are going in their life, but they must learn to vent their anger appropriately. That means no hitting, swearing, or throwing stuff at other people. Period! Just because someone has “problems” doesn’t give them a license to act inappropriately on the unit. Seriously. Nurses are not punching bags. We have rights. Nurses must teach their patients to function in the real world, and we do them a disservice if we allow our patients to act out on a psych unit.

Pearl of wisdom #2: The second pearl of wisdom has to do with the myth that nurses can say something wrong to a psych patient. Many nurses are afraid that a patient will crumble if they say the wrong thing to the wrong person. I’ve never seen this happen during my nursing career. Just listen to your patients with your ears and with your heart. Everything else will fall into place.

Pearl of wisdom #3: Never turn your back on a patient. This is self explanatory. Psych units are unpredictable.

Pearl of wisdom #4: Don’t get offended if a patient hates you. That probably means that you are doing your job. Many patients come to the hospital because they have boundary issues, and issues involving the need for immediate gratification.

Pearl of wisdom #5: Never forget that you are a REAL nurse. You may not be caring for a wounded body, however you are caring for a wounded soul.

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

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