How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse

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Psychiatry is a specialty of medicine that focuses on the treatment and study of mental conditions. Psychiatric nurses are registered nurses that specialize in treating a variety of patients with disorders that affect the mind.


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What Does A Psychiatric Nurse Do?

Psychiatric nurses treat patients with mental conditions and illness such as mood and personality disorders. They care for individuals that suffer from a variety of psychiatric conditions including schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, and psychosis. They assess the mental health needs of patients, help with the diagnosis of conditions, create plans of nursing care, and perform a variety of forms of treatment. They help patients improve or regain their abilities to cope with their conditions. They administer medication and help patients deal with everyday things such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Psychiatric nurses also participate in crisis intervention and counseling of patients and their families. They monitor forms of treatments and keep detailed records of activities.

What Kind Of Training Does A Psychiatric Nurse Need?

Psychiatric nurses must become registered nurses by completing a diploma, associate degree, and bachelor degree program in nursing. Psychiatric nurses must also complete additional training in psychological therapies, dealing with challenging behavior, and administering psychiatric medication. Many prospective psychiatric nurses complete this training through elective courses or continuing education courses. All registered nurses must become licensed by passing the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). Most psychiatric nurses also gain certification in psychiatric and mental health nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Psychiatric nurses must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses and certifications and keep up to date on the current advancements.

What Are The Prospects For A Career As A Psychiatric Nurse?

Employment of all registered nurses is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for psychiatry care will drive job growth of psychiatric nurses.

Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for psychiatric nurses with professional certifications and extensive experience. Numerous job openings will arise from the need replace psychiatric nurses that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How Much Do Psychiatric Nurses Make?

As of December 2009, the middle 50% of psychiatric nurses earn annual salaries between $56,551 and $68,718. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $74,540 (2).

A career as a psychiatric nurse is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in psychiatry and providing care to many different patients. Psychiatric nurses need a solid understanding of psychiatric conditions and many different types of treatment. They must be prepared to work with individuals who are aggressive, disoriented, and uncooperative. Physical stamina, emotional stability, patience, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are essential characteristics. Psychiatric nurses must have excellent communication and the ability to interact with a variety of patients and other healthcare professionals.

Joshua T Osborne

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