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Psychiatric Nursing

What is Psychiatric Nursing?

According to Johnson & Johnson, psychiatric nurses, also known as mental health nurses, work with patients suffering from mental illness or distress. These nurses are also educated in the field of behavioral therapy. They care for patients who have a variety of conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. Psychiatric nurses not only treat these patients in a healthcare setting, but they also help patients and their loved-ones to learn how to live with and cope with these conditions.

Daily tasks performed by psychiatric nurses include developing care plans and assessing the mental health needs of patients. In addition, they teach patients and their families how to deal with mental disorders.

Advanced practice psychiatric nurses, such as nurse practitioners, have earned an advanced nursing degree and have a slightly different role. At this point, they are able to specialize in a sub-specialty of psychiatric nursing, such as caring for children and adolescents with mental health issues. These individuals diagnose and treat individuals, implement and evaluate nursing processes, take quality improvement steps, and provide therapy and primary care services to psychiatric patients.

What is the Typical Work Environment?

Psychiatric nurses work in a variety of environments, including mental health clinics, hospitals, and correctional facilities. Advanced practice psychiatric nurses, such as nurse practitioners, may even have their own practices.

What are the Education and Certification Requirements?

The first step in becoming a psychiatric nurse is to complete an accredited RN program and earn a diploma, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing. After graduating, the individual must pass the NCLEX-RN and apply for a license.

A registered nurse can become certified in psychiatric-mental health nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). In order to be eligible, he or she must have practiced full-time as a registered nurse for at least 2 years and have at least 2,000 hours working in a psychiatric-mental health setting in the past 3 years. In addition, he or she must have completed 30 hours of continuing education in the past 3 years.

There is also psychiatric certification available for nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists.

What is the Average Salary of a Psychiatric Nurse?

Salaries are likely to vary by geographic location, position, and the individual's education and experience level. Additional education, such as an MSN or doctoral level degree, can result in a higher earning potential. In a 2012 report by the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), it was estimated that registered nurses make on average $65,470.

What is the Job Outlook?

The BLS predicts 19% job growth for registered nurses between 2012 and 2022. Job growth is likely to be higher for outpatient clinics, just as rehabilitation centers.