Psychiatric nursing is an area of the nursing field where nurses handle the care of patients with various mental disorders. They work with psychiatric patients that are in the hospital for a short-term evaluation as well as patients that are permanently hospitalized. Their job duties are the same as a standard RN or APN, but since the patients they work with tend to have severe emotional and behavioral disorders, their focus is also on interacting with patients, which includes offering emotional companionship and various types of therapy.
Psychiatric Nursing Job Requirements
In order to work as a psychiatric nurse, certain requirements must be met. RNs (Registered Nurse) and APNs (Advanced Practice Nurse) can both work in the psychiatric area, and they must complete one of three nursing programs, Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, Associate Degree in Nursing, or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. While these programs will allow for a nurse to begin their nursing career, nurses working in the psychiatric unit will be required to possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Psychiatric nurses are also required to hold a Basic Life Support voluntary certification due to the nature of the job. Once the required schooling is complete, psychiatric nurses are required to complete and pass the National Council Licensure Examination in order to obtain their nursing license. Nurses that are looking to obtain their license as soon as possible may be interested in participating in an accelerated degree program. These programs are offered by many colleges, and they allow for nurses to obtain their education and certifications at an accelerated rate.
Psychiatric Nurse Job Duties & Salary
Psychiatric nurses work with an assigned caseload of patients. They provide direct care of each individual patient, including monitoring their social and emotional needs, as well as administering psychiatric medications and conducting required evaluations. They work closely with patients in order to encourage their participation in support groups, and various types of therapy, and they will often participate with the patients in social activities. They monitor therapeutic environments and also assist patients with various self-care activities. Nurses work with patients with a variety of disorders, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, dementia, addiction, and eating disorders.
Since psychiatric patients are admitted to the hospital for a variety of reasons, the specific types of therapy and treatment a psychiatric nurse will perform will depend on the specific case. The psychiatric nurse will also work with closely with the families of their patients in order to bridge communication gaps and provide the best possible recovery for their patients. Working as a psychiatric nurse can be quite rewarding, as they are part of a team that assists patients in learning how to adapt in the world, face their fears and phobias, and recover from traumatic experiences.
The average salary of a psychiatric nurse is $66,511, but this number will vary depending on the specifics of the job, length of employment, and job promotions. Psychiatric nurses work in hospitals, outpatient facilities and care homes, health departments, drug and alcohol treatment centers, and long term mental health facilities.
Job Outlook For Psychiatric Nurses
The nursing field is always in high demand, and there are many prospects for registered nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a 22 percent increase in jobs for registered nurses, which adds approximately 581,000 jobs to the market. Not all of the job openings are specifically geared towards psychiatric nurses, but since psychiatric nurses are either RNs or APNs, the chance of landing a job after completing the specific education and licensing requirements is quite high.
Trends In Psychiatric Nursing
Current trends in psychiatric nursing include working in mental health wards, elder care for elderly patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, drug and alcohol treatment centers, public health departments, long-term care centers, and private home care. The rise in patients seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse can contribute to an increased demand for psychiatric nurses, and there has also been a rise in demand for forensic psychiatric nurses that work with mentally ill prisoners and patients in hospitals for the criminally insane, due to the growing need to evaluate the link between criminal offenders and their mental health status.
Psychiatric Nursing as a Career
Psychiatric nursing is a good career choice for nurses that have a special interest in the mental health field. They work closely with patients by providing therapy and support, and this can be quite rewarding for the right individual. All areas of nursing require interaction with patients and the ability to offer patients support, but the area of psychiatric nursing is very specific to the patient’s needs. A psychiatric nurse is responsible for tending to the mental health needs of their patients, and the scope is quite broad, ranging from medication administration to various types of emotional therapy. Mental health nurses tend to form bonds with their patients, as many psychiatric patients lack a sense of trust in their lives. Working as a psychiatric nurse can be demanding at times, and the job requires a lot of flexibility in terms of nurses being able to think on their feet and manage the behavior of mentally unstable patients. The nursing field is always in high demand, and psychiatric nurses are particularly sought after due to their knowledge and expertise in the area of mental and emotional health.