Mental Health (12-08-2008)

This last quarter I did my rotation on the acute inpatient mental health floor at the hospital. I really did enjoy the experience. I learned a lot from the nurses and the patients themselves.  Suprisingly, I think that I could work in Mental Health. I don’t think that it is where I want to work, but it is good to know that it is a place I could succeed. My goal is to become an oncology certified nurse and I think the skills I learned in Mental Health will be very useful in that environment.


I have really been surprised at how receptive my patients have been to me this quarter. Even the gentleman with “paranoid” schizophrenia opened up to me right away. I was somewhat concerned going into this clinical that I might not know how to properly advise these patients since we have had so little training in this area. The approach I took was just to listen and when asked for information I drew from the information I knew and tried to be honest, supportive and encouraging. This seemed to be effective. I had patients seek me out to say thank you before they went home, grumpy patients with tough exteriors who tried to hug me before I left for the day, (lessons in boundaries! ) patients who asked me to repeat things I had told them so they could write them in their journals. One patient told me that she often feels judged by nurses but that I had listened to her and made her feel like I understood her pain. Each of my patients told me that our conversations were helpful to them in some way. I think another thing that surprised me was that a lot of what they needed to hear seems like simple common sense to me. I think they just needed someone to verbalize it, or to give them a concrete picture to go with an abstract idea. Some needed validation for what they already knew and others just needed help connecting two concepts.  I think they all needed an empathetic listener. I really do feel privileged to have been able to be a part of their journeys.



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