So you might already know this about me, but before I decided to become a nurse I thought I wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist. I actually earned my Masters in Clinical Psychology before deciding to change careers…so it was really no surprise that I totally rocked my Psych HESI. It’s a good thing, too, because all my classmates and instructors knew that I had been a psych major, so it could have been super embarrassing if I hadn’t done well!
But even though I have a relatively extensive background in psychology, I still found Psychiatric nursing challenging because it required a different approach to patients than I was used to taking. Just like other specialty areas of nursing, however, there are some important tricks that you can use to maximize your success.
Psychiatric Nursing Tips
Psychiatric nursing is all about feelings. And not your feelings, but the patient’s feelings. So on test questions, always be looking for answer choices that ask open-ended questions encouraging patients to discuss how they feel…NEVER “why” they feel that way.
Often, these kinds of Psych questions are “disguised” as non-Psych questions simply because the scenario doesn’t mention a psych diagnosis. That doesn’t matter! If the goal of the question is to see if you know how to use appropriate therapeutic communication, then it is a Psych question.
The other big area of Psych to focus on are the specialized medications. Now if you’ve learned anything about Your Nursing Tutor so far, you should know that I am NOT about to tell you to just memorize a million medications and call it a day. No way!
Instead, look for the most commonly used psych medications that you keep seeing over and over again in lecture, in the textbook, in practice NCLEX questions, on TV, wherever! Those are the only medications you need to focus on memorizing.
Other than that, focus on understanding categories of psych medications, such anti-depressants (including subcategories like try-cyclics, SSRIs, and MAO-inhibitors), anti-anxiety, anti-psychotics, etc. The individual medications within each category typically have the same therapeutic effects and the same side effects, so it’s easier to keep everything straight in your head by studying it this way.