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Graduating with your Nursing Pin and becoming a Psychiatric Nurse

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Psychiatric nursing specializes in mental health, but there’s definitely more to it than just caring for mentally-ill patients. Also known as Mental Health Nurses, psychiatric nurses provide education, care, and therapy to patients with behavioral problems, and mental health and psychiatric disorders. It takes a certain level of experience to work well with patients with mental health problems, and not all nurses after graduating and receiving their nursing pins are meant to be psychiatric nurses to begin with.

If you’re aspiring to become a psychiatric nurse, there are several things you’ll need to know:

An Overview

Psychiatric nurses care for patients with mental health problems that range from mood disorders, substance abuse and addictions, anxiety disorders, dementias, and psychiatric disorders. Their expertise in the field of mental health is well utilized in therapy, as well as in crisis intervention, as they assist their patients in mastering and ultimately dealing with their illness effectively with the aim of helping patients to live full and productive lives. Psychiatric nurses work with professionals from other disciplines, and as part of a treatment team, they help to create specific and detailed care plans that focus on providing comprehensive and effective care for their patients. They also offer counseling to both patients and their families as they all learn to navigate around the presence of the mental illness in their family.

Daily Responsibilities

Nurses specializing in mental health have varied tasks depending on their work setting. Their daily responsibilities would generally include consulting with doctors, psychiatrists, and other professionals in the mental health treatment team to come up with a care plan that best suits the patient. They may also be tasked with keeping and updating medical records. Psychiatric nurses also assess patient conditions, carry out treatment plans, administer medication, and monitor progress. They may also provide health teachings to patients’ families and assist them in connecting with available services and resources.

Work Setting

Psychiatric nurses typically work in hospitals and mental health facilities, but they may also be employed in schools, medical offices, correctional facilities, community organizations, as well as home health organizations.

Ideal Psychiatric Nurse Qualities

It takes more than just a nursing pin acquired from completing nursing school in order to become an effective psychiatric nurse. Ideally, psychiatric nurses should be compassionate, and can work well in collaborative set-ups. They should also have a good eye for details, have good and solid judgement skills, and be skilled in communication and crisis intervention. Above all, they should be interested in working with the mentally ill, as well as with those who suffer from behavioral disorders.

How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse

A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college is typically required from those aspiring to become psychiatric nurses. Certification may be required depending on the state and position applied for, with higher demands for further degrees asked of those wanting to be psychiatric nurse practitioners.

Psychiatric nursing is a specialization that requires a lot of patience and skills in dealing with those suffering from mental health problems. Compensation-wise, psychiatric nurses are typically paid more in salary than regular registered nurses. The outlook for this specialization in nursing is also expected to remain positive through to 2020.  


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