Psychiatric nurse Shelly B. has always been intrigued by the way the human mind works. It was only natural that when she finished high school and began college, she would major in psychology. At that time, she was unsure of her ultimate career goal, but she knew that it would be something that involved psychiatry.
"I am a people person," Shelly states. "I grew up very involved in helping other people. My mother was a part of many charity drives, fundraisers and serving those who were less fortunate. She instilled this desire in me as well." Shelly wanted to help those that others might be afraid to care for, so she decided to become a psychiatric nurse. Some of her classmates were hesitant to pursue this type of nursing, but Shelly was excited about the prospect of helping those with mental illness.
"On my psychiatric rotation in nursing school, I met some very interesting people. There were varying degrees of mentally ill patients on the unit. Some were just very depressed, sad and lonely. It broke my heart. Most of them had that same far away look in their eyes. When I sat down to talk to them, I realized that many were desperate for a conversation." Shelly realized that the mental health issue was huge, and it both surprised and upset her. She could not wait to finish nursing school and help these individuals.
"Nursing school was great," she states. "I did have to study hard, but it was all worth it. I knew that I would have a job that I enjoyed, excellent benefits and a good income." After graduating from nursing school, Shelly was accepted right away at a facility for the mentally ill as a psychiatric nurse because of her excellent start as a psychology major. "There were some situations that I was hesitant about at first, but I never felt threatened. I knew that I was where I belonged. I enjoyed going to work every day. I enjoyed the challenges that I was faced with each day."
Shelly states that a psychiatric nurse has goals that are somewhat different from those of other nurses. Challenges could include how to get a patient to open up or how to get a patient to take just one bite of food. "When we succeed, it is a big deal and a cause for celebration. That, to me, is what nursing is all about."