My decision to be a psychiatric nurse was driven by passion to make a difference in the lives of people. Coming from a family where most members are in business, my decision to become a nurse was considerably challenging. My parents expected me to follow in their footsteps and study a business-related course so I could run their company once they retired. While this situation made it difficult for me to make a choice between business and being a psychiatric nurse, ultimately the latter won based on my skills, passion, as well as professional and academic goals.
Having an in-depth understanding of the nuances of the US healthcare system, my ultimate goal is being able to influence policy in the context of mental health to reduce stigma. According to Tyerman et al. (2021), stigma toward mental illness affects person-centered care, with consequent adverse impacts on the nurse-client relationship, which affects the quality of psychiatric care. Likewise, my experiences and observations in my culture where stigma against mental health prevails support these conclusions. I noted that a majority of mental health patients do not get the quality of care they deserve, which was the critical turning point for my choice. After attaining my master of Nursing in psychiatry, I will work for a few years to gain even more practical experience before seeking a position where I have the power to influence policy. Hence, my professional goals align with my choice to pursue a specialty in psychiatry.
Similarly, my academic goals and skills influenced the choice of specialty. Having been a registered nurse for two years, I felt that attaining an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) in psychiatry aligned with my academic goals. Once I have completed this course, I will enhance my academic qualifications by seeking CEUs in nursing. Kaas (2020) explains the increase in number of state-determined professional requirements for continuing education units for nurses seeking life-long professional learning. As such, attaining the CEUs will pave the way for me to enhance my competency as I pursue a doctorate in psychiatry, where I aim to provide significant contributions in new areas within the discipline. In this way, I will have the theoretical and practical experience needed to advocate for patients with mental health issues.
To further grow in the career and be a competent psychiatric nurse, I will join professional organizations in the field. According to Goolsby and DuBois (2017), membership in a professional nursing organization is essential for growth since the organizations advocate for the profession while providing nurses with lifelong networks that contribute to their personal and career development. Some of the professional organizations affiliated with psychiatry in nursing include International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN) and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA). For one to become a member of both organizations, they must be professional registered nurses interested in psychiatric nursing in clinical practice, education, administration, or research (Retzlaff, 2022; American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 2022). Besides, they need to pay an annual subscription fee and adhere to the organizations’ bylaws. However, the benefits of membership far outweigh the costs; hence, joining the organizations will support my career goals.
Ultimately, my decision to become a psychiatric nurse was influenced by its alignment with my passion, academic and professional goals, and my understanding of the US healthcare system. After attaining the MSN in psychiatry, I will be better positioned to advocate for patients who are marginalized not only in society, but also in healthcare settings. Besides, the choice of specialty will enable me to influence policy at the national level in later years. In this way, I will be able to improve healthcare delivery for patients with mental health conditions on a larger scale.
American Psychiatric Nurses Association. (2022, October 10). Current member opportunities.
Retrieved October 29, 2022, from https://www.apna.org/membership/current-member-opportunities/
Goolsby, M. J., & DuBois, J. C. (2017). Professional organization membership: Advancing the
nurse practitioner role. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 29(8), 434-440.
Retzlaff, J. (2022). Membership. Home. Retrieved October 29, 2022, from https://www.ispn-
Kaas, M. J. (2020). Will we be ready? Preparing psychiatric-mental health nurses for future
practice. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 26(1), 112-119.
Tyerman, J., Patovirta, A. L., & Celestini, A. (2021). How stigma and discrimination influences
nursing care of persons diagnosed with mental illness: A systematic review. Issues in mental health nursing, 42(2), 153-163.