How To Become A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners help patients live with psychiatric disorders and provide resources to help improve overall quality of life. They are also responsible for educating patients families on the road to recovery. Perhaps youre interested in mental health and youve decided that youd like to work as a PMHNP, but youre not exactly sure how to make that a reality.
This page will walk you through the common steps basics of how to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, explain what youll study, and discuss possible career opportunities.
Should A Nurse Be A Little Of A Psychologist
Many specialized nursing careers require an even deeper knowledge of human psychology. If you are looking to pursue areas of nursing in which you interact mainly with patients struggling with mental illness, addiction, or other serious disorders, psychology is a helpful and key component of your training.
What Is A Psychiatric Nurse
The psychiatric or behavioral health nurse specializes in caring for patients receiving treatment for a variety of mental illnesses, addiction, eating disorders or substance abuse. Patients with psychiatric disorders require a great deal of emotional support, education, and therapy from skilled mental health professionals. Working with patients and the interdisciplinary team, including case managers and social workers, to assess and provide a safe discharge environment is a large part of the day-to-day of a psychiatric nurse. This specialty is suited to the nurse who is patient and kind, but not afraid to lay down some boundaries when necessary.
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Common Areas A Pmhnp May Work/common Work Duties
While the primary responsibility of the psychiatric nurse practitioner lies in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of people suffering from mental illness, the field itself provides an even more complex service to the general public. Mental illness can play a role in the overall quality of life for patients from all settings. NPs work to help people address mental illness so that they may lead more productive and happy lives. Identifying mental ailments requires a strong knowledge of the various psychological illnesses as well as the different methods for diagnosing them.
Applying the directives of psychotherapy and perhaps even pharmaceutical therapy is a common role for professionals in this field. Practitioners must understand the effects and interactions of drugs used during therapy, as well as the transformative effect of psychotherapy for individuals and groups. Psychiatric NPs work with patients to determine their overall mental status, assess any past or present physical illnesses, and present treatment programs that are therapeutic in nature.
Career Outlook For Psychiatric Nurses
Thereâs a shortage of trained professionals to help cope with mental and behavioral health needs. In this role, you can expect ongoing demand for your services and expertise. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook, or growth rate, for jobs for registered nurses is expected to be 9 percent between 2020 and 2030. A rate which is about as fast as average. . Jobs for nurse practitioners are expected to grow by 45 percent between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS .
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Psychiatric Nurse Degrees & Education
To become a psychiatric nurse, you must first become a registered nurse, which requires two years of schooling. If you are not already an RN, the best path is to enroll in a university full-time and earn your Bachelors degree, which you will need before applying for a Masters program. Often, APRN programs expect you to have on-the-job experience before entering an advanced program, so it is advised that you check with any program you are considering before applying, and craft a plan to gain experience, if that is a requirement for admission.
After completing your graduate degree, you will need to undergo clinical training with oversight from practicing APRNs and other medical providers. Then you will need to pass the state licensing exam, and from there, may pursue further specialization if you wish.
While it is admittedly a long road toward becoming a practicing psychiatric nurse, most people find it a hugely rewarding job, in which you can both help people and add contribute to a field that has a huge need for skilled professionals. If you choose this path, the likelihood is that you will be very glad you did.
What Conditions Do Psychiatric Nurses Treat
Psychiatric nurses will work with patients with a wide variety of disorders and mental illnesses with symptoms that may manifest in surprising ways. Here are a few common areas psychiatric nurses encounter regularly in their work.
- Mood disorders: Depression and bipolar disorder are two of the most common mood disorders. People with this type of illness may experience extreme feelings of apathy, worthlessness, emptiness, fatigue and sadness. In the case of bipolar disorder, they may also experience cases of extreme mania, not sleeping for days and losing the ability to think clearly.
- Psychotic disorders: People experiencing psychosis may have auditory and visual hallucinations that can range from strange to serious. This includes patients with schizophrenia and substance-induced psychotic disorders.
- Dementia disorders: Dementia refers to the general loss of mental abilities such as memory, processing and language. Alzheimers is a common form of this disease and occurs most often in geriatric populations. As a result, many patients with this disease will have other physical needs and disabilities to care for.
- Addiction disorders: Addiction to drugs, alcohol or certain behaviors can cause several other mental health issues, including psychosis and depression. There are many layers to treating this type of disorder, including symptoms , withdrawal and the initial causes of the addiction.
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How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Pmhnp
Navigating psychiatric nurse practitioner schooling can take six years or longer depending on a student’s educational background, whether they attend classes full time, and whether they intend to pursue a DNP degree. Most MSN programs require applicants to have completed two years of work experience, adding to the timeline.
Find Work With Psychiatric Patients
Since there isn’t really a way to specialize in psychology nursing in your education, if you want to work with psychiatric patients, you’ll want to find a job specifically in that area. This might mean working as a nurse in a psychiatric ward in a hospital or getting a job as a nurse in a mental health clinic.
Depending on what types of positions are available at facilities near you, it may take time to find the right type of position. You might decide to work in an emergency room, as even though there are many other types of patients, there are also a fair number of psychiatric patients who come to emergency rooms for help. This can give you exposure to the field in case you can’t find a position working only with psychiatry patients at first.
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How To Pick The Right Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner School For You
Its hard to know what the perfect school is for what youre looking for. While there are only a handful of institutions that offer a psychiatric nurse practitioner program, narrowing it down further will likely be based on different factors, including:
- Cost: Is the school within an affordable range? Will you have to move to attend school, and how expensive is the new city going to be? Do they offer financial aid?
- Location: Commuting to and from facilities where you get real-world experience is common for psychiatric NPs. This means you might have to move to a new area for school or work with the school to find clinical sites near your home and complete your coursework online.
- Program length: Depending on the program you study toward, you may have to plan to be in school for 2-4 years, and possibly even longer if youre working full-time and studying part-time. If you have to continue to work while youre in school, youll also want to verify that the program can be completed while you work.
- Accreditation: Accreditation is always something important to keep in mind before selecting any school or programnot only does it ensure that your school will properly prepare you for your certifying exams, but if you plan on applying for federal loans, you may get turned down if your school is not accredited.
Types Of Jobs Workplaces And Patients Youll See
Psychiatric nurse practitioners can pursue job opportunities in a wide variety of settings, either independently or in:
- Inpatient treatment facilities
- Correctional facilities
In many states, psychiatric nurse practitioners can prescribe medications and operate independent practices without the supervision of a physician. In private practice, they provide individual and group therapy and consult with patients remotely via telemedicine.
As skilled advanced practice healthcare providers, they also can serve as consultants and expert witnesses, or take on leadership roles within healthcare organizations
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What Are The Roles And Duties Of A Psychiatric Nurse
- Assess mental health symptoms and help to diagnose and treat patients
- Monitor patients in a psychiatric facility
- Educate family members about a patient’s condition and care plan
- Work alongside psychiatric doctors and other mental health specialists as part of a comprehensive psychiatric care team
- Connect patients with programs and services
- Help patients set and hit short and long-term mental health goals
- Assist patients with medications
What Job Can I Get With A Psychology Degree
Community welfare officer Community worker/community development worker Counsellor Employee relations officer Guidance counsellor, second level Health and safety adviser Housing manager/officer Human resources manager Occupational psychologist Occupational therapist Probation and welfare officer Psychologist, clinical
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Patients Of All Ages And Walks Of Life
Psychiatric nurse practitioners work with patients of all ages who are experiencing abuse, addiction or mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and eating disorders.
- People experiencing homelessness, human trafficking, violence, or abuse
- Military veterans or others experiencing chronic post-traumatic stress disorder
- Children experiencing emotional or behavioral disorders
- Adults with chronic mental illness or substance abuse problems
- Children and adults with mental health conditions who are involved in the criminal justice system
University Of California San Francisco
Tuition: $60,482 per year in-state, $72,727 per year non-resident
While the focus of the psychiatric nurse practitioner program at UCSF is on all demographics, students have the option to complete their residency while focusing on a specific age group. This program is ideal for nurses who want to work exclusively with adults or children.
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Typical Work Environment & Occupational Challenges
Psychiatric nurses work in a range of settings. These include physician offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, substance abuse and rehabilitation facilities, universities, offices of other healthcare practitioners, or in private practice. Frequently, they also work in schools and at colleges, especially those that cater exclusively to people with mental health and developmental disabilities.
Nursing is a job that makes travel quite easy, and many psychiatric nurses opt to do shorter stints in many places as a way of seeing the world. Not only are a range of jobs available in the United States, but APRNs are welcome in many other countries, as part of international aid teams, or on the staff of nongovernmental organizations or non-profits. Some psychiatric nurses even visit patients in their homes, or travel from facility to facility to see patients and advise the staff there.
Nurses may also work for home health care organizations, where they are a part of the team treating patients in their houses and apartments, and others work in prisons or jails.
Psychiatric nurses are also at risk of injury, since patients may frequently be violent or developmentally delayed, and may not have good control of their bodies or emotions. Back injuries and bruising are not uncommon in this field. Thats not to say its all bad, however most nurses find they can overcome these issues easily due to the satisfaction of the job.
Is This The Right Specialty For You
Nurses working in psychiatry partner with patients to overcome significant challenges, which takes patience, dedication, and a genuine interest in helping people. The payoff is making a meaningful difference in the lives of patients.
This is an enormously satisfying profession because every person is built differently, says Dilks. Working with a patient is like working on a wonderful puzzle together.
Working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner may be an excellent fit for someone interested in nursing but not drawn to sterile surgical settings, she says. Its a combination of art and science and involves treating both the mind and body. You connect with patients on a very different level, which is incredibly rewarding and never boring.
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Common Steps To Becoming A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
With different regulatory hurdles, degree options, and specializations, every educational journey is bound to be different. But here are six potential steps on how to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
As with all nursing specializations, education is fundamental to becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner. That typically begins at the undergraduate level. While many students choose full Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, others go for a nursing diploma program or a two-year associate in nursing degree. From there, students can go on to pursue a postgraduate qualification. Some might choose a Master of Science in Nursing. Those whove completed a bachelors program may choose a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Others may opt for post-masters certificates. Whatever route you choose, studying to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner means focusing in depth on mental health and disorders. To that end, youll learn about psychopharmacology, mental health assessment, and mental health diagnosis, among other topics.
What Is The Quickest Way To Become A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
The typical educational pathway to becoming a PMHNP involves earning a BSN and an MSN in six years from start to finish. Online, bridge, direct-entry, or other accelerated programs may lead to a degree in approximately two years, depending on an applicant’s previously earned college credits or RN experience.
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Can You Be A Psychiatric Nurse With A Psychology Degree
Psychology nurses have the same education as any other type of nurse, its just that they have decided to focus on psychology patients. For those who are particularly interested in working with psychology patients, earning a masters or doctorate degree to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner is an option.
Can I be a mental health nurse with a psychology degree?
You may be able to join a nursing degree on the second year of a course if you already have a degree in:a health-related subject. psychology.
Can a psychologist be a nurse?
Psychology and nursing are intertwined in both practice and education. If you choose a course of study that focuses on both of these disciplines, you could be prepared for the following careers: Psychiatric nurse Psychiatric nurses are an important part of a mental health patients care process.
Is psychiatric nurse the same as psychologist?
An advanced practice registered nurse holds a masters degree.) PMHNs examine, assess, educate, and support patients, but do not counsel them. Psychologists hold a PhD or PsyD. They cannot prescribe medication and cannot diagnose or treat physical medical conditions.
How do you become a mental health nurse if you already have a degree?
If you already have a degree, you might be able to study for a postgraduate qualification. There are other routes into mental health nursing such as nurse degree apprenticeships and nursing associate apprenticeships.
S To Becoming A Psychiatric Nurse
To be a psychiatric nurse, you must first get your registered nurse license. To become an RN, you need to graduate with at least an associate’s degree in nursing from an accredited program. Youâll also complete additional training and can typically expect that employers will require you to gain some professional experience in the field before getting a job as a psychiatric nurse.
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What Does A Case Manager Do
Case managers help people who are in difficult situations by giving them advice, determining what kind of help they need, and finding services to meet those needs. They also can create plans for treatment of recovery and work with other health and human services providers to keep tabs on a patients progress.
How To Become A Mental Health Nurse
Do you want to change lives and help those struggling from mental health issues? Then why not consider the rewarding career of a mental health nurse? Mental health nursing is an incredible career designed for those who want to help others.
Day to day, you will be working with service users who are suffering from acute or chronic mental health problems, supporting them in their daily lives. Mental health nurses are essential in mental health services and are always in high demand, so explore this incredible career option today.
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Average Salaries By Workplace
Where you work also can be a factor in your salary. Here are some BLS examples of median salaries for nurse practitioners by workplace:
Mental health and substance abuse facilities:
The one exception is nurse anesthetists, who can earn an average of $195,610 annually, according to the BLS.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Credentials
All NPs must get national board certification in their chosen specialization. Specializations include adult-gerontology, acute care, family practice, among others.
PMHNPs must be certified in their chosen specialty: psychiatric mental health. While all registered nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN to receive state licensure, an equivalent national exam does not exist for NP licensure. In most states, board certification serves as a requirement for state licensure. For PMHNPs, these two credentials together demonstrate mastery of advanced nursing skills and clinical experience.
Legislation is trending toward requiring a national certification exam.
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