Psychiatric Nursing Schools

A psychiatric nurse specializes in assisting individuals and families with their general and mental health needs. Continue reading to learn how to become a psychiatric nurse, how to choose a degree program and what to expect from programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Students interested in psychiatric nursing can choose from multiple degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level, some of which are even offered online or in a hybrid format. Make sure you are well informed about these programs and what they entail by reading this article.

What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Do?

According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA), psychiatric nursing has basic and advanced levels (www.apna.org). At the basic level, you can diagnose the nursing care needs of an individual, family or group with mental health issues, administer a nursing plan, then monitor and assess the quality of care received. As an advanced practitioner, you can perform these basic duties and also diagnose and treat other psychological problems you might encounter. You might work in a specialty within the field, such as forensics, substance abuse, mental disorders of the elderly and child-adolescent mental health nursing. You might also consider pursuing higher education to become a nursing administrator, professor or researcher.

What Would It Take to Work in This Field?

To work at the basic level, you'll need to become a registered nurse (RN). This can be accomplished through a 2-year associate's degree program, a 4-year bachelor's degree program or a less common 2- or 3-year diploma program. State academic requirements vary, though you'll need to take the National Counsel Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). After becoming an RN, you can qualify for an entry-level position as a psychiatric nurse.

You'll need a master's degree in psychiatric mental health nursing to become an advance-level psychiatric nurse. A doctoral degree could also help you pursue other advanced careers in the field, such as institutional administration, research or a college professorship. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers voluntary certifications for adult or family psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners as well as child or adult psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialists.

Which Schools Offer Associate Degree Programs in Nursing?

Associate degree programs in nursing are available at many colleges, including the proceeding schools:

  • Miami Dade College houses an Associate of Science in Nursing degree program
  • Rochester Community and Technical College has an Associate of Science in Nursing degree program
  • Howard College hosts an Associate Degree in Nursing degree program

Which Schools Offer Bachelor Degree Programs in Nursing?

Plenty of schools grant an opportunity to enroll in a bachelor degree program in nursing. A handful of them are below:

  • University of San Francisco has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program
  • University of Maryland School of Nursing provides a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program
  • Colorado Technical University delivers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree completion program

Which Schools Offer Master Degree Programs in Nursing?

Master degree programs in nursing often allow students to specialize in psychiatric nursing. Take a look at the programs listed here:

  • Northeastern University provides a Master of Science in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree program
  • Eastern Kentucky University houses a Master of Science in Nursing- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree program
  • Wilkes University hosts a hybrid format Master of Science in Nursing- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree program

Which Schools Offer Doctoral Degree Programs in Nursing?

You can find nursing programs commonly offered at the doctoral degree level, usually as doctor of nursing practice degree programs. Below are a few of them:

  • University of Colorado College of Nursing delivers a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program
  • John Hopkins University has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program
  • University of Maryland School of Nursing provides a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program

How Do I Choose a Program?

Your first step should be verifying the type of education your state board of nursing requires for licensure. If you want to eventually pursue a graduate degree, earning a bachelor's degree is usually necessary for admission. If you already have an associate's degree, diploma or some college credit, several schools offer bachelor's degree completion programs in nursing as well as dual bachelor's and master's degree programs.

At the bachelor's and master's degree levels, you could find schools that offer online learning. Admissions requirements usually include an RN license and previous college-level education in nursing. Some or all coursework might be offered online, but curricula are often blended, requiring you to complete in-person rotations. Online bachelor's degree completion and master's degree programs usually take about 18 months to complete, though the pace of the program could be based on your performance rather than a course schedule.

What Are Typical Undergraduate Programs Like?

Nearly all nursing degree programs require that you participate in nursing labs and clinical rotations. The level of education you receive depends on the type of program you enroll in. Associate's degree programs last two years and often have general education requirements. In these programs, you'll be introduced to medical terminology and nursing fundamentals. You'll usually receive specialized education in pediatrics, obstetrics, pathophysiology and mental health nursing.

Diploma programs are usually offered through hospitals, though you might need to complete general education at a local college. The program teaches you nursing care for clients with psychosocial problems, identification of physiological and psychosocial issues and family-centered nursing. Much of your program is delivered through observation, rotations and experiential learning and is intended to transition you smoothly into nursing practice.

Bachelor's degree programs usually take four years to complete, though the time can be lessened if you have an associate's degree or diploma. Courses offer a review of basic nursing practices and can also include mental health nursing, family health, nursing research, pharmacology and public health.

How Will Graduate Education Help Me?

Advanced practice nursing or nurse practitioner master's degree programs often offer a concentration in psychiatric nursing. Some programs provide part-time or online options for working nurses. Course topics can include neurophysiology, adult diagnostics, therapeutic interventions and psychopharmacology.

At the doctoral level, you could earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). A Ph.D. in Nursing program is research-oriented and best suited if you're interested in teaching or research in the psychiatric nursing field. A DNP program could advance your nursing career and qualify you for leadership positions as an educator, executive or clinical specialist.

When looking at undergraduate programs, associate and bachelor degree programs can prepare you to become a registered nurse, which will include come training in psychiatric nursing and allow you to enter the field. Graduate programs include master programs with specializations in psychiatric nursing, as well as doctor of nursing practice degree programs, both of which can prepare students for career advancement of a research career.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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