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How important is it to have a job in the medical field while in nursing school?

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Has 3 years experience.

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Hi all!

I am currently in my second year of nursing school, and I love it so far. However, I can't help but feel like I am not getting the experience/exposure that I need. I'm a PCA at a children's behavioral facility and I work in the psychiatric crisis unit. It is essentially?the ED?of behavioral health. The PCAs in this department take vital signs?during triage and?are also responsible for doing glucose tests, and EKGs (if a patient comes in for intentional ingestion).?There are not many times though that the PCAs?have to do glucose tests or EKGs, so the most that I am really doing is just getting vital signs.?I talked to some of the students?in my class, and a lot of them are PCAs also, but they work on units like?burn units, cardiac units, urgent care, or?the ED, so they get to experience and witness so much more than me. Of course, there is also the option of looking for other places to work that would give me the?experience that I am looking for, but the place that I work at now is very flexible with my schedule (which will be wonderful for when clinicals roll around) and there is enough downtime on some days to get homework done or study. I am doubtful?that it would be the same elsewhere.

So this poses the question of: do I find a new job to get experience, or do I stay at the job I have now and take advantage of the flexible schedule and downtime??My grades are fantastic, and I've been on the dean's list since I've first started nursing school, and I can't help but wonder if it's due to?a combination of the time that I spend at home studying, in addition to the time that I have while at work.

Questions:

How important is it to have a job in the medical field while in nursing school? Is it important at all?

Do people who are exposed to more medical things while in nursing school do better overall?

Will medical units want to hire me when I am a new grad seeing that I have only worked in psych?

Please share your thoughts! Thanks!

subee, MSN, CRNA

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired. Has 49 years experience.

Why mess with what's working?? Your non RN experience in psych will not count for much if anything.? I did accounts payable during nursing program because they accommodated my class schedule.?

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

The job experience you get while in school can be helpful, but not as much as a situation that meets your other needs. Why add the stress of learning a new job to the stress of nursing school?

NightNerd, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg/tele. Has 7 years experience.

It's helpful but not necessary. If they accommodate your school schedule, I say roll with it!

So in the ED, for example, yes the techs are performing some skills that you aren't, such as phlebotomy, urinary catheterization, applying splints, assisting with lots of other procedures by providers and other staff. You will be taught the basics of some of these in school and may be able to experience some of them on your clinical rotations.

2 hours ago, Anatomy Jane said:

I work in the psychiatric crisis unit. It is essentially?the ED?of behavioral health.

I don't think you should underestimate this. Some of the things you are encountering in this role will be built upon in the future and will be valuable in a different setting, like, many different settings. Specifically, trying to have a good rapport with your patients and interpersonal skills. Therapeutic communication. You can work on these things right now in your PCA role and it won't be wasted.

I say stay with it and don't complicate your life. Are you in a 4-year program? If you are, you could always make the change later if you start to develop an idea of where you might like to try for an RN position and want to get your foot in the door somewhere.

?

scuba nurse, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 31 years experience.

Can you ask for more specific duties during your shift to get the experience you want??

But mostly ditto the others, stay where you are.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

On 2/2/2021 at 5:52 PM, Anatomy Jane said:

Questions:

How important is it to have a job in the medical field while in nursing school? Is it important at all?

"Something is important only if we give it importance."

On 2/2/2021 at 5:52 PM, Anatomy Jane said:

Do people who are exposed to more medical things while in nursing school do better overall?

Yes. Especially if the exposure isn't to some medical thing like Ebola.

On 2/2/2021 at 5:52 PM, Anatomy Jane said:

Will medical units want to hire me when I am a new grad seeing that I have only worked in psych?

No. Psych Nursing is like Hotel California: You can check out anytime you like, but you may never leave!

On 2/2/2021 at 5:52 PM, Anatomy Jane said:

Please share your thoughts! Thanks!?

You're welcome, Anatomy Jane!

Anatomy Jane, CNA

Has 3 years experience.

On 2/2/2021 at 7:55 PM, JKL33 said:

I don't think you should underestimate this. Some of the things you are encountering in this role will be built upon in the future and will be valuable in a different setting, like, many different settings. Specifically, trying to have a good rapport with your patients and interpersonal skills. Therapeutic communication. You can work on these things right now in your PCA role and it won't be wasted.

Don't get me wrong, I love psych, and I love where I work! I am just one to always think?of my future and oftentimes worry about if the things that I am doing now will be of benefit to me in the long run. Now that you mention it though, I would say that some of the greatest strengths are building rapport with patients and having that therapeutic communication! Thank you for your reply ???

Anatomy Jane, CNA

Has 3 years experience.

21 hours ago, scuba nurse said:

Can you ask for more specific duties during your shift to get the experience you want??

But mostly ditto the others, stay where you are.

I have asked, and unfortunately, I'm stuck with what I got!?Thank you for the reply ???

You will be fine! A couple of my classmates kept their bartending jobs throughout nursing school because, well...?they made great?money!? Guess what? Bartending skills are valuable?for multitasking as a floor nurse! Bartending and nursing are both service industries where?you need?to bust your butt! We shouldn't be expected to take low paying?CNA jobs?(and acquire more debt) just because we want to pursue a nursing education!

?

BTW... using a glucometer and performing an EKG are not difficult tasks. You practice a few times and you should have the skill down. If you told me you were learning to place a PICC, that would be a different story.

Edited by 2BS Nurse
Update

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I worked in a cafeteria and a gym during nursing school and I'm doing just fine??? customer service?

I would not worry about the tasks that your PCA classmates are doing.? We can all learn tasks.? Your psych knowledge and skills can be applied to ANY job you seek as a new grad.? Don't minimize that now, or on your resume later on!? I think a lot of nursing students (and professors sometimes) minimize the importance of psych and other clinical areas outside of med/surg and I'm not sure why.?

Is your work part of a larger hospital system?? If so, that may give you an advantage as a new grad for med/surg type of RN jobs over outside applicants.

If you WANT to get a job in ED or med/surg, know that a new unit or employer might not be flexible with your orientation schedule.

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