Psychiatric nurses and psychiatric nurse practitioners have an important, albeit challenging, occupation. Mental health nurses are often working with patients during the most difficult times of their life, so extreme empathy and sensitivity is always required. Having qualified and capable nurses in the mental health space is critical to ensuring patient safety, health, and wellbeing. 

What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?

Psychiatric nurse practitioners and mental health nurses help patients suffering from mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse problems, among many others. They collaborate with doctors, social workers, and therapists to diagnose, monitor, and treat patients suffering from a wide range of psychiatric disorders. 

Some of their day-to-day responsibilities include:

  • Testing for vital signs 
  • Consulting with health care teams
  • Communicating with patients
  • Monitoring patients and progress
  • Building relationships with patients
  • Assessing treatment effectiveness
  • Administering medication
  • Maintaining patient records
  • Ordering diagnostic tests
  • Educating patients and families

Psychiatric nurse practitioners are able to perform additional duties that other types of nurses aren’t authorized to, such as making referrals, diagnosing psychiatric problems, prescribing medications, conducting therapy appointments, and creating individualized treatment plans.

Nurses Learning about Mental Health

How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or Mental Health Nurse

Being a mental health nurse or NP requires education, experience, and important soft skills. Both psychiatric nurses and nurse practitioners must have great communication skills. Not only must mental health nurses communicate effectively with their professional teams, but they must also be able to empathize, empower, and communicate clearly with their patients. 

To become a mental health nurse, you must become a registered nurse by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or associate degree from a nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you are an RN, you can apply for nursing jobs. If you want to further specialize in psychiatric care after you have an active RN license and have practiced full-time for two years, you can earn a certification in psychiatric nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center

To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, more education is required. Psychiatric NPs must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse. After that, you’ll need to apply to a master’s or doctoral Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. Once accepted, you’ll need to complete a specified amount of faculty-supervised hours. After coursework and clinical hours are fulfilled, aspiring PMHNPs must take the PMHNP exam and apply for certification in the state you plan to practice in. After receiving your certification and state licensure, you are ready to begin your career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. 

 Visit this website for more details on becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner. 

The Challenges and Rewards of Psychiatric Nursing

Psychiatric nurses are in high demand. There is currently a labor shortage in the psychiatric workforce that is expected to worsen by 2025. Mental health nurses also have to deal with challenging work-related pressure, like serving non-compliant patients, which can be difficult and unpredictable. 

However, despite these challenges, these nurses and nurse practitioners do life-saving work. Whether they are counseling patients with suicidal thoughts or helping children overcome a traumatic event, their work has a profound impact. Additionally, mental health nurses make a positive impact on not just their patients’ lives, but society as a whole. Their education, counseling, and care helps reduce the stigma of mental illness, inspiring others to get the help they need.

Increased awareness and acknowledgment of the pivotal role of psychiatric-mental health nurses is the first step in building up this highly essential workforce. Building this workforce will help expand access to mental health care nationwide, and impact the lives of many individuals and families.

Teaching Nurses about Mental Health

Opportunities for Psychiatric Nurses

Because psychiatric nurses are in high demand, there are many different types of facilities that mental health nurses can find employment in. This includes hospitals, behavioral health facilities, rehabilitation centers, independent practices, and more. Aligned with the demand for mental health professionals comes job security, flexibility, and financial reward. Mental health nurses typically earn $53,000 – $90,000 per year, and psychiatric nurse practitioners earn $91,000 – $160,000. 

Additionally, innovative technologies like ObservSMART are being developed and continually improved to make psychiatric nurses’ workflow easier and more reliable, with peace of mind assured. ObservSMART is a proven compliance technology that validates mental health patients are being monitored and checked as they should. It consists of a wearable Bluetooth patient wristband that syncs to hospital staff’s mini iPads to ensure patient checks are completed at the proper frequency within an accurate proximity. 

This technology helps reduce the chances of sentinel events and risks to patient health. If you’re interested in learning more about our compliance technology designed with behavioral health professionals in mind, contact our team today