Behavioral Health Nursing

Why Choose Behavioral Health Nursing

Q&A with Lauren Bounds, Behavioral Health Nurse

When you’re choosing your care area as a new nurse, it can be hard to know what specialty is best for you. Lauren Bounds, RN at TriStar Centennial Parthenon Pavilion, shares why she chose to care for behavioral health patients at our psychiatric hospital in Nashville.

How did you get started as a behavioral health nurse?

Both of my parents are physicians and ironically told me to go into business. However, knowing that I was drawn to medicine, they encouraged me to become a nurse. A lot of people don’t realize that acute behavioral health nursing involves much medical nursing as well, which is why working at Parthenon Pavilion was such a great fit for my first job as a nurse.

What made you interested in caring for behavioral health patients?

My first degree is in Psychology so going into behavioral health was a no-brainer. I’ve seen friends and family struggle with mental health issues and the stigmas attached, and knew that I wanted to help people in similar situations.

Behavioral health nursing is where you truly learn what it means to be empathetic.

What was most surprising about working as a psychiatric nurse?

I was most surprised by the amount of medical experience I would get. Most people think that psych nurses don’t know how to put in a foley or care for a wound, but I have gotten a good amount of experience with both.

What do you find most challenging?

Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember that it is often the disease talking and not the patient. I’ve had many days where I’ve seen a patient act out and throw things near me, and I have to remind myself that they are struggling and this is part of their disease process. This is especially true with dementia patients.

What is the most fulfilling part of psychiatric nursing?

The most fulfilling aspect is seeing patients improve. We all want to see our patients get better, and when I finally see that brightened affect in a patient who came in with catatonia, I feel that my time has been worthwhile and that I have made some difference.

What would you say to nurse residents considering (or not considering) behavioral health?

DO IT! I can’t see myself working in any other field of nursing. I do think it is important to have a sense of humor in order to work in this field - if you aren’t willing or able to laugh at yourself, then maybe this isn’t for you.

Overall, I think it is important to work in behavioral health and learn about different mental illnesses because you find psych in all areas of nursing. Behavioral health nursing is where you truly learn what it means to be empathetic.