What Is A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse?
Psychiatric mental health nurses are involved in assessing their mental health needs of:
This is an intensive specialty within the domain of nursing that requires a great deal of skill and many years of training in order to reach. Psychiatric mental health nursing is not for everyone and consequently it is important that you consider this line of work carefully before enrolling in a program.
Nature Of The Work/duties
The following is a basic overview of what a psychiatric mental health nurse does on a daily basis:
- Develop a nursing diagnosis
- Develop a plan of care
- Implement the nursing process
- Evaluate the nursing process for effectiveness
- Offer primary care services to the psychiatric-mental health population
- Assess individuals and families with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders
- Diagnose individuals and families with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders
- Treat individuals and families with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders
- Prescribe medication
- Administer psychotherapy
There is a higher degree of autonomy when it comes to this nursing specialty as compared to simply being an RN. In addition the job comes with a higher degree of professional respect.
Psychiatric mental health nurses often own private practices and corporations. In addition you may consult with groups, communities, legislators, and corporations. Employment in this nursing specialty comes with a high degree of independence and autonomy. As compared to an RN who is employed in a hospital you will not be as carefully controlled by superiors if you are a psychiatric mental health nurse. This is not always the case: many psychiatric mental health nurses are employed in mental health facilities that function in a very similar way to a hospital, but even in these settings their advanced knowledge and assumed ability to handle the situations that may arise set them apart from RNs. This is one of the more rewarding nursing specialties. A willingness to work with mentally unstable and potentially dangerous patients is essential.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Requirements
Before you can apply for positions as a psychiatric mental health nurse you will need to meet the following requirements. The requirements must be met in the order specified here as they represent a course of action that you should follow for a specialty in psychiatric mental health nursing:
- You will need a bachelor’s degree from a four year school of nursing.
- You will need to write and pass the NCLEX-RN, the national licensing exam for registered nurses.
- You will then need a master’s in nursing from an accredited school in the state you would like to practice in that has a focus in psychiatric mental health nursing.
- You will then have to take the certification exam for psychiatric and mental health nurses after you are done with your program.
Working with patients suffering from mental disorders can be high stressful and consequently this is a line of work in nursing that only suits certain people. If you have all or most of the following skills, however, you should be able to manage the task of caring for mental health patients:
- Good communication skills
- A genuine attitude of caring
- A sense of humor: This is necessary in order to maintain your own sense of cheerfulness and purpose in life.
- A willingness to get help for themselves if necessary: Depression and anxiety is common for nurse sin this position and they should therefore seek help when and if necessary.
- Good time management skills
- A willingness and ability to work hard
As with all nursing specialties there are a number of educational requirements involved in becoming a psychiatric mental health nurse. Once you have completed high school you need to enter an RN training program. There are a number of different options that you can choose here, but it is important that the program you attend is accredited. Once you have completed the program and received your RN license you will have to do advanced training in order to become a psychiatric mental health nurse. this advanced training will result in a master’s or doctor’s degree which will then make you eligible to declare yourself a specialist in the area of psychiatric mental health nursing. This advanced degree will specialize in mental health nursing and give you the knowledge that you need for the job.
In order to become a psychiatric mental health nurse you need an RN license. The first step to attaining your RN license is to enter an RN program. There are three main types of RN programs:
- Two year programs leading to an associate’s degree in nursing
- Three-year programs for a diploma in nursing
- Four-year college or university programs leading to a bachelor’s degree in nursing
Once you have completed one of these programs you will be eligible to sit the NCLEX-RN exam. This is the national licensing exam for registered nurses. Once you have completed and passed the exam you will be able to apply for licensure with your state’s board of nursing. Make sure you are well aware of the licensing requirements for your state before you apply or write the exam.
How To Become A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse
Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications
Through the APRN Consensus Model you, as a psychiatric mental health nurse, will be able to provide mental health care to adults and children across their entire lifespan. This is the training model that you need to complete in order to specialize in this particular area of nursing. There are a number of specializations within psychiatric mental health nursing that you can choose to train in. These are:
- Child and adolescent mental health nursing
- Gerontological-psychiatric nursing (where you will work with the elderly)
- Substance use disorders
- Consultation-liaison with patients and families
- Collaborative, integrative health care with primary care providers
This is one of the best methods for advancing your career as an RN as there are few nursing specialties that come with this degree of autonomy.
Source An Accredited Education Program
When you enter a psychiatric mental health nursing program you need to ensure that it is accredited. If you complete a program through a course that is not accredited your ‘qualification’ will count for nothing. There are two bodies that accredit nursing programs:
- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
- The National League for Nursing
To be certain that the program you are interested in is accredited and therefore a safe option for enrolment, go to your state’s board of nursing and see if the program is listed there, or get in touch with the board and ask them specifically about the program. For a list of nursing programs offering this qualification across the country that are accredited you should also try visiting the website of Psychiatric Nursing Graduate Programs at www.apna.org.
Earn Your Associate’s Degree
Although an associate’s degree may be a good way to start your career in nursing (as it allows you to practice as a registered nurse) it is not sufficient in order for you to become a psychiatric mental health nurse. You will first have to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing which will in turn make you eligible to complete a master’s degree in nursing that will have a focus on psychiatric mental health nursing. Consequently, although your associate’s degree can get your foot in the door of this stable industry that provides many opportunities for those who are willing to work hard, you still have a long way to go after receiving this degree before you will be able to apply for certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse. The path to this specialization is a long one.
Obtain Your Licensure
In order to be a psychiatric mental health nurse you will need, first and foremost, to have an RN license. To obtain this license you need to attend an RN program and then passed the NCLEX-RN examination, which will allow you to apply for and receive licensure form the state board of nursing that controls nursing and nursing practices in your particular state of residence. Once you have an RN license you need to obtain certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse. There are several different levels of psychiatric mental health nursing that you may be interested in attaining. Each of these levels requires its own type of certification. The information that you need regarding certification can be found at the website of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) which is www.nursecredentialing.org.
Online/Distance Education Programs
It is possible to a portion of your psychiatric mental health nurse training online, but you must remember that this is a qualification that requires a certain degree of clinical exposure before your training is complete. Clinical exposure for a master’s degree cannot be obtained online. However you can obtain it while working in a normal health care setting and doing merely the theory work for the qualification in an online classroom. There are advantages to studying this way. For one thing you will not have to give up your current job in order to complete your master’s degree. For anther you can work at your own pace. Simply be wary of schools that claim to provide a qualification in psychiatric mental health nursing entirely based on online work as this is not possible.
distance.und.edu states that: “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, overall job prospects are expected to be excellent for advanced practice nurses, particularly in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas“. A career as a psychiatric mental health nurse falls under the heading of advanced practice nursing, which means that with a qualification in this arena you will be able to benefit from the expected increases in the number of jobs that will present themselves in the future. Due to a growing acceptance for mental conditions as diagnoses there has been an increase in the number of psychiatric mental health nurse jobs available, trend that should continue. In addition the health care industry in general is one that is on the increase, meaning that any job in this area will result in job stability and a strong job outlook.
The salary that a psychiatric mental health nurse can earn varies based on a number of factors. One of these factors is the level of education that you have. You can either be a psychiatric mental health nurse with a basic (RN) level of education, or you can be a psychiatric mental health nurse with an advanced (APRN-PMH) level of education. The differences this results in are as follows:
- A psychiatric-mental health nurse with a basic (RN) level can earn about $25,000 to $47,000 a year
- A psychiatric-mental health nurse with an advanced (APRN-PMH) level can earn about $50,000 to $70,000 a year
The salary for a basic RN level nurse is dependent on geographical location. This is because different states tend to offer different salaries for the same qualifications across the health care sector.
Psychiatric mental health nursing can be a very strenuous and potentially stressful and difficult specialty to pursue. You will need strength of character and an ability to deal with the problems that you will face objectively and without losing your control. This, consequently, does not suit everyone, but, with a career in this line of nursing, you can earn a very good salary and you will also experience heightened respect from other members of the health care profession. As mental disorders can be managed and controlled you will also experience a sense of success and pride in your work as you observe changes in your patients.