In general, nursing is a field filled with passionate individuals. Specifically, the psychiatric nurse practitioner position requires nurses to work in a high-demand field that needs people with compassion and empathy.
In this post, we will explore:
- What is a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
- What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do?
- What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner treat?
- Where do psychiatric nurse practitioners work?
- How do you become a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
- How much do psychiatric nurse practitioners make?
What is a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
There are more than 325,000 nurse practitioners in the U.S. Of that number, 4.7% are psychiatric nurse practitioners. They typically work with patients that suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse disorders.
In many states, they can prescribe medications and work independently.
What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do?
A psychiatric nurse practitioner has many duties throughout the day. Their role is a hybrid between a psychiatric nurse and a nurse practitioner.
Here are some of the duties of a PNP:
- Diagnosing and treating severe psychiatric issues, illnesses, and crises
- Providing individual, group, and family psychotherapy
- Counseling patients with psychiatric problems
- Collaborating with other treatment providers to help individuals with complex psychiatric issues
- Gauging health care problems and referring to a medical specialist if necessary
- Educating patients on self-care practices
What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner treat?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners treat a wide range of mental health conditions. Some of the more common ones include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Panic disorders
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Personality disorders
- Substance use
- Trauma, PTSD, adjustment disorders
Where do psychiatric nurse practitioners work?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners work in many settings. Some of these include:
- Outpatient clinics
- Inpatient facilities
- Private mental health practices
- Substance abuse programs
- Trauma centers
There are also telehealth options available for PNPs to hold meetings with clients digitally. These types of appointments allow PNPs greater flexibility and have become much more common.
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How do you become a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
The following steps outline the process needed to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Step 1: Become a registered nurse
You must have an active RN license to become a PNP. You can earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The associate’s degree in nursing only takes two years at a community college to complete. A bachelor’s degree generally takes four years at a university to complete.
Step 2: Gain experience
Once you become a registered nurse, you need to gain experience within the field of mental health. You can work as a psychiatric nurse and gain experience working with patients who have a mental illness. This can help you determine whether this particular set of patients is a good fit for you.
Step 3: Earn your MSN or DNP
All psychiatric nurse practitioners must earn at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. If you have already completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you can apply directly to an MSN program. If you only have an ADN, you will need to apply for an RN-to-MSN bridge program. With this program, you have an opportunity to obtain a BSN while earning an MSN. After receiving your MSN, you can apply for DNP programs or a BSN-to-DNP program if you didn’t get an MSN.
Step 4: Pass the psychiatric-mental health N.P. certification
After graduating, you must pass the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner certification.
The eligibility requirements for the certification include:
- Holding an active R.N. license in the U.S.
- Master’s degree or higher from a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program with at least 500 accredited clinical hours
- Three graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology
- Clinical training in at least two psychotherapeutic modalities
- Content in health promotion/maintenance
- Content in differential diagnosis and disease management
Step 5: Obtain state licensure
Once you pass the exam, you need to send your results and transcripts to your state board of nursing to receive a psychiatric nurse practitioner license. In states that nurse practitioners have prescriptive authority, PNPs will have to apply for a prescriptive authority license to prescribe medicine. Other states require PNPs to work under a supervisor in order to prescribe medicine.
How much does a psychiatric nurse practitioner make?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners’ earnings depend on a variety of factors like experience, education, and location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the median wage for nurse practitioners in general for 2020 was $117,670 per year.
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