Find Local or Online
Nursing Programs

Select a program:

Select your state:

Follow NurseGroups on Pinterest

How To Become a Psychiatric Nurse

There are many different divisions in health care where a registered nurse can work. Each of these concentrations requires their own specialized education and training to meet the required duties of the job. One of these different sectors is to become a psychiatric nurse. Psychiatric nurses help patients who have mental health needs and also work with their families to help them understand the diagnosis so they will be able to assist their family members with their treatment.

To become a psychiatric nurse, one must first have a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. A bachelor’s degree can be achieved through two ways. One is the traditional route of attending a four year university to earn the degree. The other is to first get a two year associate’s degree in nursing from a technical or community college and entering the work force as a lower level nursing professional and returning to a college or university for two years to finish the bachelor‘s degree. Many nursing employers offer tuition reimbursement for employees to go back to school to receive the Bachelor of Science degree to become a registered nurse.

To be eligible to work as a psychiatric nurse, the student must complete training in psychiatric care while earning their nursing degree. This can be done through electives or special concentrations in psychiatric care. There is also the option of gaining on the job training after starting work as a general registered nurse. Some nurses choose to continue their education after starting to work in the psychiatric care field. These nurses can pursue a master’s degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. A doctorate in psychiatric nursing is available for nurses who want to go on to be professors, researchers or administrators.

Care from psychiatric nurses is offered on two levels; basic and advanced. Basic psychiatric care involves the nurses working with patients and their families and sometimes with communities and other groups to evaluate the mental health care needs and develop a plan of treatment. The nurses then follow up with that plan to make sure it is put into practice and followed correctly. Advanced psychiatrist nurses do all of the tasks of a basic care nurse plus they can also diagnosis and order treatment for different psychiatric care cases. The difference between the two is that the basic care nurses have a bachelor’s degree and the advanced care nurses operate with a master’s degree.