Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
By Allison Skoglind, allied health world contributing writer
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What is a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
A psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is an advanced practice nurse that has pursued specialized training and education in the field of psychiatric and mental health nursing. PMHNPs use their cumulative skills, education, and training to provide primary care for children, adults, and families that seek treatment for a wide-variety of mental health problems, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse dependencies. Those interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner must start by pursuing an undergraduate degree in nursing, passing the NCLEX-RN examination, and gaining experience as a registered nurse (RN). After completing these steps, professionals may require to complete psychiatric nurse practitioner graduate programs.
Next, all PMHNPs may need to gain national certification through the American National Certification Center. Once certified, these professionals are expected to contact their local State Board of Nursing to obtain the necessary licensure to practice. By acquiring a state license, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are allowed to pursue employment.
Some common places of employment may include mental health facilities, professional associations, primary care centers, public health departments, community hospitals, substance abuse recovery sites, private practices, and emergency psychiatric units. The career outlook for nurses (including psychiatric nurse practitioners) is exceptionally optimistic. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2008 and 2018 the nursing profession across the nation will experience a 22% growth in employment.
What are the job responsibilities of a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
According to the National Panel for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Competencies, all psychiatric nurse practitioners in entry-level positions are expected to accurately and effectively perform several job responsibilities in order to provide the highest quality care possible to psychiatric and mental health patients. A major part of a psychiatric nurse practitioner's job description involves the assessment of a patient's general mental health condition. In doing so, psychiatric nurses administer psychiatric evaluations, collect medical histories, and identify issues that may be affecting a patient's state of mental health.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners diagnose patients' psychiatric disorders and identify possible mental health problems. Upon determining a proper diagnosis, psychiatric nurse practitioners create an individualized strategy of treatment for the patient. For example, professionals often prescribe pharmaceutical medications or holistic solutions depending on the specific needs of a patient.
Since psychiatric nurse practitioners work in close physical and emotional proximity to patients and their families, as well as collaborate with other staff members, providing open communication and education regarding psychiatric care is yet another important aspect of the job performed by psychiatric nurse practitioners. Other job responsibilities may include managing health care delivery systems, monitoring quality care, and conducting research in the field.
Learn about psychiatric nurse practitioner salaries.
How do psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners get nationally certified?
National certification is an essential step in developing a long-lasting and successful career as a psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) currently provides professional certification to both adult psychiatric nurse practitioners and family psychiatric nurse practitioners. Once certified, psychiatric NPs would be able to use the credential of Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC).
Before receiving the opportunity to sit for examination, all professionals must first hold an active registered nurse's license in the state in which they intend to practice. Also, all candidates must graduate from a psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner program at the master's, post-master's, or doctorate level. This educational program has to be accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
Once these eligibility requirements have been meet, professionals will then need to obtain and submit an ANCC Adult Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner certification application. After the application is approved, professionals can then sit for the competency examination. Certification is only granted if examination is passed. Recertification is mandatory every five years with the completion of seventy-five contact hours of continuing education in field-related activities.
Psychiatric Nurse Schools
- MS in Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) - General
- Online Master of Science in Nursing- Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
- Online Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
- Doctor of Nursing Practice