Psychiatric Nurse

Job Description:
Psychiatric nurses work with mental patients in a variety of settings. There are two levels of psychiatric
nurses and the responsibilities vary by level. Basic level psychiatric nurses are registered nurses who
carry out doctors' orders. Their duties include developing nursing care plans for patients, providing direct
patient care, and administering medications. They work with family members, helping and teaching them
how to deal with a family member's mental illness. Registered nurses can teach other health care workers
and the public about mental health, working with groups or individuals. They can assess the mental
health needs of a community and assist with crisis intervention and counseling.

Advanced level psychiatric nurses have a master's degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. They have
the authority to work independently and are qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with
psychiatric problems. In many states they can prescribe medications and do psychotherapy (a method in
which the therapist meets regularly with patients to talk about their problems and help them find
solutions), and act as case managers overseeing the care of patients. Both levels of psychiatric nurses
serve as patient advocates, which means they support the interests of patients and ensure that their
needs are met.

Psychiatric nurses work in psychiatric hospitals, mental health centers, community mental health
programs, health maintenance organizations, and clinics. Psychiatric nurses with doctoral degrees may
choose to teach, conduct research, or serve as administrators in hospitals, schools, and various agencies.

Note: Advanced practice nurses are also called advance practice registered nurses (APRNs) or psychiatric
clinical nurse specialists. Some are nurse practitioners who specialize in psychiatric care. (See the profile
for nurse practitioner for information of that role.)

Duties and Responsibilities:
Basic level psychiatric nurses perform the following duties:
• Develop nursing care plans.
• Provide direct nursing care.
• Administer medications.
• Carry out treatment strategies, as ordered by a physician.
• Teach classes in mental health topics, such as stress reduction.
• Teach family members about the patient's disorder and needs.
• Determine the community's mental health needs.
• Help plan community programs.

In addition to the above, advanced level psychiatric nurses can perform the
following duties:
• Assess patients using a variety of methods.
• Make a diagnosis based on the assessment.
• Develop a plan of care and treatment.
• Prescribe medications (in most states).
• Provide counseling.
• Provide psychotherapy (in most states).
• Conduct research.
• Serve as administrators.
• Teach in universities.

Educational Requirements: Registered nurses can be educated in three ways. . such as pediatrics. Salary Information: In 2003. Second. maternity. physiology. microbiology. To Learn More and Prepare: • Obtain information from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Nurses who become executives can earn over $100. Physical Requirements: Psychiatric nurses may be on their feet and walking about a good deal of the time. psychology. They need good communication and interpersonal skills. compassionate. Nursing education includes both classroom courses and supervised clinical experience. The exact duties the psychiatric nurse can perform vary by state.og) and the National League for Nursing (nln.522 and above. be able to problem solve and make decisions. The course work includes anatomy.641. and psychiatry. Certification Requirements: Registered nurses must be licensed. students work in a variety of specialties. Some nursing programs now offer clinical training in facilities other than hospitals. and interested in helping individuals with mental disorders and problems with substance abuse. they can earn an associate's degree in nursing (ADN). This is usually a two to three year program at a community or vocational college. all levels of psychiatric nurses are certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Some students begin their career with an ADN and then enter a BSN program. Projected Outlook for this Career: The employment outlook is very good for psychiatric nurses because of the critical shortage of registered nurses in all areas. Psychiatric nursing programs are accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (aacn. Graduates of BSN programs have more advancement opportunities than those with an associate's degree. Advanced practice nurses earned $68.000.Personal Qualities: Psychiatric nurses must be caring. • Explore the Web Links provided in this profile. and nursing courses. chemistry. and effectively supervise others. • Conduct an informational interview or job shadow a psychiatric nurse to learn more about the duties performed. critical thinking. patient. They also need to be responsible. In addition. During their clinical experience. Advanced level psychiatric nurses have a master's degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. basic level psychiatric nurses earned an average income of $46. • Review professional journals such as the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (JAPNA). they can earn a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) which requires four or five years to complete. Others have developed fast-track programs in response to the growing shortage of nurses.org). First. Career Ladders: Basic level psychiatric nurses can pursue more education and become advanced practice nurses.

and social science.org Web Links: American Psychiatric Nurses Association Click on "FAQ" to learn more about psychiatric nursing.org National Institute of Mental Health Click on "For the Public" for fact sheets on a variety of mental disorders. VA 22209 (703) 243-2443 http://www. Site also contains lists of accredited educational programs. http://www. • Explore the different functions an advanced practice nurse can perform and the various positions available.apna. • In high school. mathematics. http://www. • Obtain employment or a volunteer position working with the mentally ill. http://www. • Learn more about the licensing requirements for registered nursing.nimh.ana.apsa.org American Nurses Association Learn about the credentialing of psychiatric nurses by clicking on American Nurses Credentialing Center. • Contact educational programs for information about their admission requirements and courses of study.nih. as well as the duties advanced practice nurses are allowed to perform in the state(s) in which you want to work. Also contains contact information for each state.apna. take courses in science.ncsbn. Professional Organizations: American Psychiatric Nurses Association 1555 Wilson Boulevard Suite 515 Arlington.org National Council of States Boards of Nursing Contains general information about nursing regulations and licensing. http://www. • Investigate scholarship and grant programs designed for students interested in nursing.org . • Learn about the NCLEX exam.gov The American Psychoanalytic Association Click on "About Psychoanalysis" to learn about this treatment. • Develop your communication and interpersonal skills. http://www. English.