According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health issues are an epidemic and are becoming even more apparent in America. Mental health is also one of the most important aspects of a person’s life to keep them healthy and productive. A person might be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. These disorders can seriously alter someone’s life, whether it is family relationships, social interactions, or productivity at work.
When it comes to psychiatry and mental health, many people don’t know the difference between the two. For this reason, nursing has taken over healthcare and is playing a vital role in advocating for mental health awareness and helping patients feel better and more capable of managing their lives on their own.
Who is a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (NP) are registered nurses who have completed an accredited psychiatric nursing specialty board certification program. They provide a range of services to individuals with mental illness, their families, and their communities. Psychiatric NPs are commonly referred to as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses (PMHN).
Psychiatric nurse practitioners are in high demand, and the job outlook for the future seems extremely promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary for a PNP is $109,820 – almost three times the average median salary in the country. These factors have attracted many RNs who wish to expand their career in nursing and work for mental health awareness. They are opting for degrees like online psychiatric nurse practitioner programs no GRE to specialize in psychiatry and start working in hospitals, ERs, rehabilitation centers, government agencies, clinics, etc.
The skills needed to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner include:
- Empathy, compassion
- Communication skills
- Excellent organizational and time management
- Critical thinking
- Basic knowledge of IT and electronic medical records
Roles and Responsibilities of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
The role of psychiatric nurse practitioners is to provide care in a clinical setting to patients with a mental illness, often with a significant medical component. The following are the responsibilities of a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP):
- Identify, evaluate and treat psychiatric conditions
The PNP’s responsibility is to provide comprehensive assessment and treatment for psychiatric conditions, including but not limited to depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders. They also focus on issues related to stress and trauma.
The PNP is trained to diagnose and treat patients with mental health disorders. They can perform physical exams, take vital signs (heart rate, pulse), order lab tests and refer patients to specialists if necessary. Some PNPs may be able to prescribe medications and administer them under a physician’s direction if the situation warrants it.
- Direct care to patients with psychiatric disorders
Psychiatric nurses provide direct care to patients with psychiatric disorders. They work directly with patients and their families to provide holistic patient-centered care. This helps develop a stronger bond with patients that positively impacts the patient’s overall well-being and health outcomes.
They provide emotional support and education to patients by explaining the nature of their illness and how it affects their daily lives. The nurse also provides information about medication side effects, helps patients learn coping skills, and teaches them relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
- Work with other healthcare workers
Psychiatric nurses are responsible for providing comprehensive care to patients with psychiatric disorders. Because psychiatric nurses are part of the healthcare team, they must understand each member’s role in the patient’s care.
Psychiatric nurses work closely with physicians, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals to provide the best possible care. PNPs, in a majority of cases, work under the direction of a licensed physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist for a specific patient. In some cases, PNPs will coordinate the care of a patient with multiple co-occurring disorders. In these cases, PNPs may be responsible for ensuring that each disorder is treated properly.
- Provide psychotherapy sessions
Psychiatric nurse practitioners understand the psychological, biological, and social causes of mental illness. They can help patients identify the underlying causes of their symptoms and work with them to develop strategies for coping with symptoms.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners focus on the overall well-being of the patient. This is why they conduct psychotherapy sessions to understand the cause of their disease. They will ask questions about a patient’s symptoms and medical history, but they also look at patterns of behavior contributing to problems in other areas of life.
- Research, clinical trials, and education
Research and education are key roles of psychiatric nurse practitioners. Research nurses use their skills to investigate psychiatric issues, develop new methods of treatment, and publish their findings in scientific journals. These nurses focus on developing new ways of treating patients or diagnosing patients with mental health conditions.
The psychiatric nurse practitioner must be a part of clinical trials involving new treatments or new approaches to treating patients. Clinical trials are designed to answer questions about the safety and effectiveness of new medications, devices, or treatments for specific psychiatric diseases.
Education nurses are also important members of the field. They educate other health professionals about psychiatric conditions to better treat the diseases and disorders that affect their patients’ lives.
The ever-changing healthcare industry requires highly skilled professionals to thrive. The psychiatric nurse practitioner plays a significant role in the field and can make a worthy addition to any healthcare team. Psychiatrists may advise and supervise these nurses or work alongside them in a team. In any case, psychiatric nurse practitioners ensure that patients receive the treatment and care they need to improve both their physical and mental health. The mental health field is growing rapidly, so as long as you desire to help others, consider pursuing this rewarding career path.