Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses have one of the most challenging roles in healthcare helping patients with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, psychosis and dementia.

As such, psychiatric mental health nursing is a specialist nursing role that requires a special kind of character and personality.

Mental health nursing requires good communication skills, an ability to manage others and physical endurance. Psychiatric nurses deal with patients of all ages whose mental health ranges from being emotionally fragile to extremely violent and dangerous.

With the rapid aging of America’s population and more and more elderly people succumbing to illness like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, psychiatric nurses are needed in greater numbers than ever before.

More Psychiatric Nurses Are Needed Than Ever

Not every registered nurse has the personality and aptitude for this demanding healthcare job. If you are interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse it is best to see what the job really involves before committing yourself.

While you are still in high school, it is a good idea to undertake volunteer work at a psychiatric hospital or an aged-person’s home so that you can see first-hand the type of patients you will be dealing with. And the types of conditions where you will spend your working day.

If you then still feel that a career in psychiatric nursing is right for you, you will need to get a nursing degree first. To undertake a nursing program at an accredited community college, university or nursing school you will need your high school diploma or GED with strong marks in math, biology, science and the humanities. You can then undertake a two-year nursing degree or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Psychiatric Nurses Require Special Training

Basic nursing programs often offer a basic rotation in psychiatric-mental health nursing that will introduce you to this specialty field of nursing. This can help you determine if you would like to get involved in this area. At the end of your basic nursing training you will need to sit and pass the state-run NCLEX-RN licensing examination before you can begin working as a full-time nurse.

Once you are working in a hospital, you can continue to pursue your interest in psychiatric nursing. This can be done either by obtaining an entry-level mental health nursing position in a hospital, asking for a psychiatric rotation or working as a psychiatric aide.

During this time you should also be acquiring the skills that psychiatric nurses need. At this stage of your career, you should also consider becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). All psychiatric nurses must undertaken additional mental healthcare training and sit examinations administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Not all states require that you sit this exam but this psychiatric certification can help you get a better paying job.

You will then be known as a Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (PMH-APRN) qualified to provide general mental health nursing acre. Psychiatric nurses can specialize in mental health care for children and adolescents, dug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, adult mental healthcare or caring for the elderly with dementia and other age-related illnesses.

As a practicing psychiatric nurse or PMH-APRN you will quickly learn that the reasons people develop mental health issues are varied and complex. Alcohol and drugs are often mitigating factors that can lead to mental illness. But stress, breakdowns in relationships, a loss of a job, home or close relative can all trigger cases of mental illness and depression ranging from minor to extremely serious.

Age-related dementia is on the increase across the Western world and this is going to have profound effects on the ability of hospitals, health authorities and psychiatric nurses to cope with millions more cases of psychiatric healthcare. Mental health issues are also common in particular section of our society and greatly affect people living under economic hardship and in poor living conditions. Disabled and homeless people are susceptible to health health problems. So are criminals and other offenders and all of this can lead to social stigmas and discrimination that only accentuates the problems.

Research has found that a great number of mental health issues are common to particular people and age groups. Women are very susceptible to anxiety and depression while men are affected by alcohol and drug addictions. Both groups are highly vulnerable to committing suicide because of these vulnerabilities. These are all the types of people that psychiatric nurses come into contact with everyday of their working lives. And it is why the job of a PMH-APRN is so emotionally and physically demanding. Psychiatric nurses are essential to provide the treatments, medications, counseling, psychotherapy and other day-to-day help that these highly vulnerable people require.

Many PMH-APRNs become consultants who specialize in lasing with patients and their families to help them try to understand and cope with particular psychiatric and mental illness. These issues are often complex, complicated and distressing which places a huge strain on many families. But for psychiatric nurses, their mental health education does not necessarily end there. Many psychiatric nurses go on to undertake a four-year master’s or doctoral degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing to qualify as a psychiatric primary care provider, psychotherapist, consultant, and university educator.

As a PMH-APRN with a master’s degree, psychiatric nurses have the knowledge to diagnose mental health disorder and provide the proper care, psychotherapy and psycho pharmacology medications to help manage and treat the patient’s illness. Your role at this stage will often overlay with that of a psychologist and psychiatrist both of whom you will work with closely.

Psychiatric mental health nursing is a tough and demanding job. It is not a career choice for everyone. But many psychiatric nurses thrive in their jobs because everyday brings a new challenge in one of the most specialized areas of medical healthcare.