The UTHCPC nurse is an important member of the
treatment team. Your experience is acknowledged through your exchange
with the psychiatry
staff as we go about designing and implementing our patient care
personal benefits from employment with UTHCPC include a stable
work environment, excellent compensation and benefits package
and the opportunity to work with some of the most respected
professionals in the mental health care arena. Living and
working in the Houston area is an exciting experience, where
many cultural, educational, recreational opportunities abound.
We hope you will continue to explore your future
with us. We are the model and leader in Texas for the provision
of mental health care services. We set high standards for ourselves
and the members of our team. Won't you join us?
UTHCPC provides the extensive internship for all
the newly graduated nurses it hires and strongly recommends the
program to nurses new to the mental health field. After all, psychiatric
nursing demands something extra from its practitioners because psychiatric
nurses are both physical and psychological caregivers.
Job candidates have to submit a job application
and be hired before becoming eligible to participate in the psychiatric
The user-friendly internship program helps participants,
either nursing school graduates or experienced nurses, transition
to a psychiatric hospital setting. Participants receive valuable
hands-on experience with supervision to help them learn how to work
as a psychiatric staff nurse and an opportunity to hone their teamwork
and management skills.
Internship participants spend the first two weeks
becoming familiar with UTHCPC and learning the theoretical framework
that underpins mental health nursing. They learn about their role
in mental healthcare, such as how to develop a therapeutic nurse-patient
relationship and how to structure a "milieu" or environment that
is conducive to healing.
The next few weeks are spent learning about the
various mental disorders, their symptoms, diagnoses, possible causes,
treatments and possible outcomes. The nurses learn to evaluate and
set goals for their work with each patient. And then they learn
the names and uses of numerous medications used to treat mental
Another week is given to the ubiquitous paper
work psychiatric nurses face, from court orders and admission papers
to discharge orders. Psychiatric nurses must be fully knowledgeable
about all the federal and state laws and medical and professional
regulations regarding the treatment of persons with mental illness,
in addition to regular nursing standards and codes of ethics.
The final four weeks of the internship allow the
nurses to put it all into practice. They rotate through adult, child
and adolescent units and work all three shifts with a specific staff
nurse. They also observe a mental health hearing at Probate Court
#3, located at UTHCPC. Finally the interns rotate to the unit where
they are to be assigned permanently. They are paired with an experienced
staff nurse who becomes a preceptor, mentor, coach and co-worker.
Each day the interns and their preceptors meet and establish the
goals they will accomplish that day.
Because psychiatry is not a "predictable"
medical service, this hands-on experience is vital to training
new psychiatric nurses. Mental health consumers are individuals
and their needs change daily, and the only way to learn milieu
management, flexibility and creativity in treatment is by
performing care-giving tasks. Students are often fearful that
they won't know the right way to talk to patients. They can
see how others do it, but the only way to learn is to practice
and have someone there to help them if they need assistance.
The most important attributes psychiatric nurses
need are empathy, a caring and therapeutic attitude, listening skills
and patience. Nurses can only learn to use those attributes if they
have the chance to work with persons with mental illness.
Psychiatric nursing often requires communication
and people management skills not normally associated with
nursing. It demands high level decision-making skills and
innovative thinking. The psychiatric nurse's job is to interact
with patients, not just as a byproduct of taking care of them,
but in order to take care of them. The nurse at UTHCPC is
an integral part of a treatment team and has as much input
as the psychiatrist, social worker, or psychologist in the
planning and implementing of the patient's treatment.