Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Psych vs. Oncology

Ever since I chose to focus on nursing in Pediatric Oncology, every reaction has been, "Wow that is so depressing," or "Good for you, that's so sad." Of course I agree...children with cancer? That is so sad. But you know, I really think Psych nursing is a lot more depressing. Let me explain:

I began Psychiatric Nursing with an open mind. I thought it would be interesting to see in the minds of those with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, major depression, multiple personality disorder, etc. Well, let me tell you, after five weeks of Psych, I can honestly say I have never been so discouraged and down about my chosen profession. I spend Tuesdays and Thursdays with patients who suffer from these disorders. They feel they have no hope, most of them are drug and/or alcohol dependent, and with no where to go when they are released from the hospital. They talk to me about feeling hopeless, like they are burdens to others. My biggest struggle is convincing not only them, but myself, that they do have hope. Of course it's easy for me to say that they should want to live because there is so much to live for. Coming from someone who has a warm house, a loving family, and a promising career, it is easy to have hope for life...but what about those who don't have any of the above? Those are the people I speak with, twice a week. And I'm at a loss of how to help them. I feel like even if I knew what to say or do, the majority of them will go back to their old lives, their routine: drugs, living on the streets, prostitution, etc. Maybe it's pessimistic of me, but I feel just as hopeless as they do in helping them. Honestly, it is much more depressing to lead them to a healthy life than any other clinical rotation yet.

Pediatric oncology is sad, I know this. No one WANTS their child to have cancer. No one wants to see a child that sick. But you know what? Kids DO have hope, and they aren't afraid. Their focus is to get healthy again so they can go out and play, cuddle with their families, and get back to their normal lives. I'm not downplaying that it will be hard: I'm sure it will be the hardest thing I will ever do. Not only am I looking forward to caring for the sick children and their families, but I am excited to helping them feel better and seeing them grow. I cannot wait to build relationships with them and know that I have made an impact in their lives. Mostly though, I am looking forward to them making an impact in my life.

I know Psych and Oncology are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, incomparable maybe. However, I can't help but think that Psych nursing is much more draining and depressing. After 5 weeks, I've given it a chance. I walked into clinical with high hopes that I would continue being intrigued with mental illness, that I would learn so much. One thing I know for sure I have learned is that Psych nursing is NOT for me.

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