The job of a mental health or psychiatric nurse practitioner is a challenging medical career which involves various important roles. As a psychiatric nurse, you will often be expected to help evaluate and diagnose people with mental health disorders, as well as assist them in understanding their problems and choosing the appropriate treatment for your patients.
Experts suggest that psychiatric nursing come with a variety of intrinsic rewards, so long as the professional in question is willing to meet the significant challenges within the field, including the stigma that is usually associated with mental illness. Some of the complexities of dealing with patients with mental illness can include violence from patients towards staff members, and non-compliance with directives and medications. However, this should not deter someone who is passionate about psychiatry. To a devoted nurse, the benefits that come with psychiatric nursing outweigh the challenges of the field by far.
About Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
The responsibilities that come with a career in psychiatric nursing are typically centered on assessing patients who have mental disorders, so as to determine the best possible course of treatment, including therapeutic care. The primary role of a psychiatric nurse practitioner is to diagnose the mental disorder of a patient, but they are also able to recommend medicines and provide further care for their patients. Specialists in this field may join primary care facilities, hospitals and community health centers, as well as open their own private counseling centers.
Those interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner will need a four year degree in psychiatric nursing. After they have completed their degree, they are usually recommended to join advanced nursing education programs to achieve a master’s or doctoral degree. Psychiatric nurses much be able and willing to accept and overcome challenges whilst maintaining a calm and steady demeanor around other professionals and patients. Because it is such a challenging role, being able to keep calm whilst under pressure is essential, as any escalation in mood could worsen a patient’s current condition. Another key trait that a psychiatric nurse should have is empathy, so that they can treat the patient with understanding and respect.
What Jobs Can a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Usually, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, also called a mental health nurse practitioner, may perform many of the same duties as a typical psychiatrist, including prescribing medication and diagnosing mental illness. Usually, they will be required to act as a therapist, assisting patients with problems such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Similar to all nursing fields, psychiatric nurse practitioners are capable of working within a variety of different settings, including private offices, hospitals, and even as home care specialists. There are also a number of sub-specialties to psychiatric nursing, such as:
- Geriatric psychiatric nursing
- Substance abuse nursing
- Forensic psychiatric nursing
- Child and adolescent mental health
As with some other nursing fields, many patients in need of a psychiatric nurse could require 24 hour care which could mean that they are expected to work weekend and night hours alongside regular shifts. Generally, nurses will rotate their shifts, or work a specific shift for a long period of time so they become accustomed to the hours they are working.
Unlike a psychologist, a psychiatric nurse will not perform psychiatric tests on a patient, but they will work in close cooperation with other professionals within the mental health field, receiving information and direction from psychologists and psychiatrists.
Within the nursing profession, psychiatric nurses are generally considered to have one of the best practitioner salaries. Psychiatric nurse practitioners are capable of earning an average of between $65,000 and $95,000 per year, which is the third highest paying job within the nursing industry. However, there are factors which can influence how much a psychiatric nurse receives, including:
- How many years of experience he or she has within the field. Usually, the greater an individual’s seniority, the more they may expect to be paid.
- Where they work. If a psychiatric nurse works from their own private practice, they may earn more than someone who works within a clinic.
- Level of education. The higher a person’s education, the more likely they are to earn a higher salary on average.
Job Outlook for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
The job outlook for psychiatric nurse practitioners predicts a growth rate of approximately 26% by 2020, which is considered to be a faster rate of growth than is typically seen within the medical community. Generally, the rate of pay, and the possibility for advancements to a higher station will depend on where you decide to work, your level of education and the experience you have gained within your area of specialty.