What Does a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Do?

A psychiatric nurse practitioner, or mental health nurse practitioner, performs a wide range of mental health services, including patient assessment, psychiatric diagnosis, and medication management. Keep reading to learn more about what psychiatric nurse practitioners do. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in a wide range of settings and see patients who suffer from many different mental health issues, such as psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and dementia. Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, primary care units, private practices, community health centers, and hospitals. They may also provide services in substance abuse programs, high-risk pregnancy centers, schools, prisons, and trauma centers.

The role of the mental health nurse practitioners is broad. They take patients' medical histories, conduct physical and psychological assessments, manage medications, create treatment plans, and handle ongoing care. Typically, nurse practitioners specialize in a particular patient group, focusing on family psychiatry or geriatric psychiatry.

Treatment Approach

Psychiatric nurse practitioners offer holistic, long-term assistance to patients. They assess, diagnose, and medicate patients while taking into consideration the biological, psychological, and social contexts and development of these patients. This is commonly referred to in the mental health world as a 'biopsychosocial' approach.

Educational Options

Typically, mental health nurse practitioners earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing before passing the NCLEX-RN test to become licensed registered nurses. Next, they enroll in master's degree programs. Here they usually choose a track that focuses on child and adolescent, family, adult, or geriatric psychiatry. Courses in these psychiatric nursing programs cover topics like family and group therapy, symptom management, psychopharmacology, mental health assessment, high-risk families, and psychotherapy techniques. Depending on the educational track chosen, psychiatric nurse practitioners are eligible for certification offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (www.nursecredentialing.org).

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the majority of psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioners earn between $67,511 and $122,325 a year as of January 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) projects that the employment of nurse practitioners in general will likely grow by almost 34% between 2012 and 2022.

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