How to Become a Psychiatric Aide

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Psychiatric healthcare facilities provide the necessary care to patients suffering from mental disorders and they require many different healthcare professionals to provide effective care. Psychiatric aides are trained healthcare workers that help care for patients that are mentally impaired or suffer from a variety of mental conditions.

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What does a psychiatric aide do?

Psychiatric aides provide the necessary care to psychiatric patients. They help patients with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, grooming, and dressing. They transport patients to examinations, treatment sessions, and activities. They also spend a lot of time socializing with patients. They often organize, supervise, and encourage patients to participate in educational, recreational, and social activities. Psychiatric aides monitor patients and record the conditions and activities such eating habits, vital signs, and responses to social activities. They report any abnormal physical and behavior conditions to psychiatrists and other healthcare professionals.

What kind of training does a psychiatric aide need?

Psychiatric aides typically need at least a high school diploma or GED. Many employers prefer applicants with some formal training and related work experience. Some states require psychiatric aides to complete formal training programs and become certified. Many community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and nursing care facilities offer training programs. The coursework typically includes anatomy and physiology, nutrition, infection control, psychology, and personal care skills. Many employers provide informal on the job training where new psychiatric aides shadow experienced workers to learn the necessary skills. Many psychiatric aides attend in-service training, workshops, and lectures throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast on advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a psychiatric aide?

Employment of psychiatric aides is expected to grow more slowly than average for all professions, increasing 6% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The increased growth of psychiatric residential facilities will create some job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for psychiatric aides with extensive experience. Many job openings will result from the need to replace psychiatric aides that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do psychiatric aides make?

As of January 2010, the average annual salary for psychiatric aides is $24,000; average annual psychiatric aide salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a psychiatric aide is a great choice for people with a strong interest in providing care to patients suffering from mental disorders. Psychiatric aides must have a solid understanding of the care procedures and policies of mentally ill patients. Patience, determination, emotional stability, and the desire to help people are necessary characteristics. Psychiatric aides must have excellent communication and the ability to help patients feel at ease. They must be able to work as part of a team and perform sometimes less desirable tasks. Psychiatric aides must always follow the proper safety procedures to avoid injury and infections.

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