Psychiatric Nurse

Raising a family may have put Margaret Crotty’s nursing career on the back burner temporarily, but it never stopped her from reaching her career goal of becoming a professional nurse. After 25 years managing psychiatry and substance abuses services at a medical center, Crotty retired only to find that she couldn’t shake the itch that she had for working with patients, so she went back into the field.

Now, Crotty is a nursing coordinator with Timberline Knolls where she works with children and adults alike suffering from eating disorders, or substance abuse issues, or even anxiety disorders and she couldn’t be happier. Whether it is working with patients or hiring the next crop of energetic young nurses for Timberline Knolls, Crotty called nursing an experience “unmatched by pay or reward”, so read on for interesting stories about her career and what she wishes she could change about the profession.

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How did I find my way into the nursing profession?

As long as I can remember, nursing has always been my career goal. I married my high school sweetheart and began raising a family which temporarily put my nursing aspirations on hold. On my 30th birthday I decided to enroll in a nursing program. In 1987, I graduated from Daley College in Chicago. I continued my education at the University of St. Francis in Joliet,  where I received my BS in Health Arts and MS in Health Administration.

What were some of the departments you worked in during my career as a nurse?

After I graduated from nursing school I went directly into psychiatry. I started off in adolescent psychiatry and continued in a management career at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in the department of Psychiatry and Substance Abuse Services where I had the privilege to manage the clinical operations in adolescent, adult and geriatric psychiatry. While psychiatry may be a specific unit, patients with mental illness and substance abuse issues are in all hospital specialties. I always worked closely with hospital wide management colleagues in providing education and support regarding psychiatric issues.

How did I find myself transitioning into psychiatric nursing at Timberline Knolls?

In 2007, I retired from Christ Hospital and Medical Center after 25 years of managing Psychiatry and Substance Abuse Services in Oak Lawn, Illinois. After six months, I realized how much I missed working with the patients and I took a nurse registry position at Timberline Knolls- working one day a week. After a few shifts I realized my passion for patient care and Timberline Knoll’s values of uncompromising care, relentless compassion and unconditional joyful spirit were a perfect fit and where I was meant to be at this time. After a few months, I was offered the Nursing Coordinator position which I am presently enjoying. I guess working with and helping patients dealing with mental illness just never gets out of the blood of the psychiatric nurse.

What are the types of residents do you see at Timberline Knolls?

We treat resident’s adolescents and adult women with eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, trauma/PTSD, mood and anxiety disorders.

With your experience practicing as a psychiatric nurse, what are some of the qualities and abilities which are needed for TK nurses?

When I interview and hire nurses at Timberline Knolls I am looking for more than education and experience. Since our treatment approach is holistic, individualized and nurturing, our nurses need the ability to incorporate into their nursing practice a spirit of compassion and interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit. It is imperative that new applicants walk through our doors embracing the core values of our healthcare organization. Psychiatric nursing approaches and clinical interventions can be taught during the orientation process.

Can you share a case which has touched you the most during your career?

Wow, this is difficult. I think the most amazing experience is when a resident who has been in denial of their illness finally accept the need and willingness to work toward recovery occurs. When the “light bulb” goes on – this is a nursing experience which is unmatched by any amount of pay or reward.

What is the greatest challenge you have experience as a psychiatric nurse?

While the stigma associated with psychiatric patient has made some strides – there is still an enormous amount of stigma and prejudice which still exists in the community and hospitals (especially emergency room’s).

Do you have any final words of wisdom for young nurses looking to go into psychiatric nursing?

Our vision at Timberline Knolls is to help our residents achieve lifelong recovery in a holistic approach of mind, body, spirit, social and emotions. Our nursing team is integral in providing this holistic approach in providing excellence in psychiatric nursing care.