The Beginning of the End

Daniel Psychiatric Nursing 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe that August has come and gone already! In about two weeks, most of my RDPN class will finish the last of our graduation requirements, including our final journals and clinical competency documents.

This summer seems to have flown by! Between my practicum shifts, my daughter/family responsibilities, and my employed student nurse (ESN) shifts, this summer appears to have been non-existent. That’s fine though, as my classmates and I see a bright light at the end of what was a long tunnel.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve registered for our upcoming registration exams, which takes place October 19th. For me, my last day of practicum is September 10th. It’s a milestone I both look forward to and dread, as I have grown and learnt so much in my time here in the Psychiatric Assessment Unit (PAU). I have been encouraged to apply for a job there, and I feel that the team has graciously accepted me into their family.

However, the summer hasn’t been solely focused on our practicums; we’ve had a number of both group and individual projects to do, on top of full-time practicum schedules, journals, competency documents, and you get the idea. One of our projects was a health promotion package, designed to be geared towards a specific audience. My partner and I chose to build a presentation targeting frontline supervisors and managers, as well as human resources staff. The exciting part is we may actually have an opportunity to present this in front of that intended audience.

While two of our courses took “practicum breaks”, we carried on with nursing research, fine-tuning our critiquing and critical thinking skills and enhancing our evidence-based practice.

As that course wrapped up, our two other courses, “Specialty Area Nursing” and “Substance Use and Misuse Theory” started back up. This included in-depth discussions on various topics, as well as presenting group projects to the class and receiving peer review.

ESN is a unique opportunity that was just brought back in for psychiatric nursing students earlier this year. It allows for a paid clinical experience after completion of our medical/surgical nursing rotation. Don’t be fooled though, while the hours are flexible, it does add another workload to a busy plate. My cohort of psychiatric ESN’s was the first under the new model, which now includes student registration with the CRPNBC. For me as a hands on learner though, I saw that as necessary for further enhancing my knowledge.


Overall, I found the workload of these last few months to be very manageable though, we start with three courses, carrying through until the start of practicum, and get a break on two through the majority of our practicums. At no point during practicum do we have to worry about all three courses. A key to reducing stress is staying on top of the journaling and clinical competency document. From there, managing what time you have left becomes a much simpler task. I also had the added advantage of working compressed weeks at the PAU because of the 12-hour days and nights.

In short, these past few months and the last couple of years has been filled with opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.

I’ve felt the burden of classroom expectations, as well as the pleasure of forming genuine therapeutic relationships that will imprint in my memory and continuously remind me of the positive outcomes and lives we can touch through the work that we do. I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead: getting past the registration exam and beginning my career as a psychiatric nurse.

About the Author


Daniel Nguyen is a student in Stenberg's Psychiatric Nursing program. He returned to school after serving for ten years in the Canadian army, and hopes to one day work in crisis intervention.

Comments 1

  1. Hi Daniel,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and thank you for sharing your experiences on your journey.
    I am a stay at home mom that has completed my Holistic Health Coaching program and yoga teacher program but was looking to further my studies. I have been seriously considering the nursing program but also had an interest in counselling, and doing further research into Psychiatric Nursing I see that this is the path that I am really interested in most. (we have a son who has suffered from anxiety and depression as well as I have a cousin that lost his way with drugs so long ago and is a part of the DTES community) Reading your blog has really helped me to see where my heart is at and the path that I am destined for. Thank you and best of luck to you and your new career.

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