If you want to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you are embarking on a career that offers work satisfaction and a good income. However, what you need the most to be successful is the passion to work with people with mental disorders.
You’ll have to be prepared to work with individual patients, facilitate group sessions, and counsel with the patients’ families. Your workplace will depend on whether you are self-employed, working in the public service sector, working for large industries, or being a part of multidisciplinary teams.
To become an independent psychiatric nurse practitioner will require academic qualifications, professional registration, and experience. Read on to learn more about how to obtain these.
How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
There are a few milestones to meet on the path to stepping into this career.
The basic qualification needed is a master’s degree in nursing. Many practitioners also get their doctorate.
Lists of programs offered at USA universities are available online. Practitioners who want to work in a very specialized field, like eating disorders, generally get an extra academic qualification in that field as well.
License and Certification
Before you can practice, you have to obtain a Registered Nurse License and be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Centre (ANCC).
You’ll need to demonstrate your ability to diagnose and treat people with mental health conditions.
What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Help and Interventions
In principle, you’ll diagnose and treat people with mental health conditions. You’ll work closely with teams to develop patient plans to help patients live productive lives.
But, this task involves much more. You’ll also have to help the patients’ families to cope.
The treatments offered have to be based on in-depth physical and mental assessments.
There are different special fields to focus on. These include working with children or teens, senior citizens, and people struggling with substance abuse, eating disorders, or other specific diagnoses.
You’ll have a responsibility to spread awareness and knowledge about mental health issues.
The destigmatizing of mental illness has to be communicated to individuals and groups whenever the opportunity arises.
A Typical Work Day
Consult with Existing Patients
Existing patients are being consulted to monitor and evaluate the progress made since the previous visit and to decide whether further treatment is still needed.
If ongoing treatment is required, the medication is checked and new group or individual therapies are discussed with the patient.
Consult with New Patients
Every day has its quota of new patients. The practitioner will start by interviewing and assessing the patient to get the history, symptoms, other ailments, daily habits, and the reason for the consultation.
Facilitate Group Therapy Sessions
Depending on the field the practitioner is working in, group sessions will be facilitated.
Time has to be allocated to bring the day’s administration up to date. Patient records, reference letters, prescriptions, and much more have to be attended to every day,
Where Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Work?
The place where you practice will be determined to a great extent by your specific field you’re working in. Many practitioners establish their own office and consulting room.
Others like to be part of a team of professionals and prefer to work in health clinics where other medical-related professionals are available for interdisciplinary treatments.
Medical general practitioners also sometimes invite psychiatric nurses to open their practice in their consulting rooms.
Consulting for large corporations as part of the staff, or as a consultant, is also an option. Other options are to work in the public sector or correctional facilities.
How Much Can You Earn?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners’ salaries vary, depending on the field they are working in, the geographical location, and demand.
The level of education and training, as well as experience, also influence the income that can be expected.
According to industry studies, experienced and well-qualified psychiatric nurse practitioners could earn about $100,000 per year.
What Other Career Options Are Available?
Some psychiatric nurse practitioners are not working as practitioners, but are researchers.
There is always a need for eager researchers to make breakthroughs in mental health diagnoses and treatments.
After getting the experience in your own practice, you can also become a lecturer at a higher education institution and ensure that young new psychiatric nurse practitioners are getting only the best training.
To be a psychiatric nurse practitioner is an enticing and rewarding career.
You need specific academic qualifications, proper registration, and experience to start your own practice, but it is all worthwhile if this is your passion.