what does a mental health nurse practitioner do

What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?

A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) is responsible for providing mental health care. The patients who see a PMHNP may suffer from a wide variety of chronic or acute psychiatric disorders. To become qualified to treat mental health patients, it takes commitment to earning a master’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing, and passing your certification issued by the American Nurses Credentialing Commission Board.

Once you become a PMHNP, you’ll help see patients through their entire mental health healing journey. Making diagnoses, advocating for patients, administering and evaluating treatment plans, as well as prescribing medication, will all be within the scope of your work. If you are interested in healthcare, specifically psychiatric nursing, know that there is no better time to get into this rapidly growing field! In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the nurse practitioner specialties are projected to grow 45% between 2019 and 2029, or much faster than average for all occupations.

What does a psychiatric nurse practitioner do on a daily basis, and what can you expect once in this advanced nursing role? Learn more through these commonly asked questions about being a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

What Are the Key Duties of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Many aspiring nurses are interested in the field of mental health because of the blend of holistic and targeted treatment measures. For instance, intaking a patient begins with an evaluation that concerns medical history and symptom analysis. A personal history is also taken, which allows nurses to learn about family dysfunction, genetic red flags, trauma, or developmental issues. Any of these influences on a person could potentially be a cause for mental illness. Learning this information helps the evaluating nurse make an accurate diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis is made, a PMHNP will be able to formulate a treatment plan. A multi-faceted  approach to treatment might include providing therapy and counseling, prescribing medication, and collaborating with other members of the patient’s healthcare team to evaluate and potentially modify the care plan. As you can see, the care that a psychiatric nurse practitioner provides is personal, hands-on, and individualized.

What Populations do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work With?

There may be a need for mental healthcare at any point in a person’s life. From children with behavioral disorders, to seniors with cognitive or communication challenges, PMHNPs work with patients at all stages and ages. Addicts, abuse victims, disabled individuals, and people who suffer from chronic disease are likely to benefit from work with a PMHNP.

One benefit of Goodwin University’s PMHNP program is that you’ll take classes that cover the full range of populations. The 50-credit curriculum includes Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Mental Health Disorders, as well as Advance Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Care for adults, children, older adults, and complex patients (meaning, the person has multiple mental health issues or unique needs). This well-rounded program will prepare you well for the working world.

Where do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work?

You’ll find mental healthcare professionals in a variety of environments. Often, psychiatric nurse practitioners work in a dedicated mental health department within a hospital. They may work in an independent practice or specifically a psychiatric facility. Through experience and interest, PMHNPs might develop a specialty, such as child psychiatric medicine. In this example, they may be especially eligible for a job in a population-specific institution, such as a children’s hospital or pediatric mental health practice.

PMHNPs will work regular business hours at a clinic or independent practice. Weekends or other shifts may be required in other work environments, such as in high-risk or fulltime observation situations, such as suicide watch and intervention. A full-time schedule of around 40 hours per week is most common in this profession.

How much do PMHNPs make?

The BLS does not provide specific findings for PMNHPs. However, the psychiatric mental health specification is most similar to the statistics provided for nurse practitioners and other advanced nurse specialists. The median annual wage made by individuals working in this field was $115,800 in May 2019. Findings on Indeed.com estimate an even higher annual salary for psychiatric mental health nurses. This top job search website populates their base salary estimation from data reported by about 1,000 working psychiatric mental health nurses, arriving at $127,556 annually.

The state and facility in which you work will affect your specific, anticipated PMHNP salary. The good news for Connecticut residents, is that the Connecticut nonmetropolitan area is the third, top-paying nonmetropolitan area for nurse practitioners. According to the BLS, the annual mean wage in this area is $136,580! Needless to say, the PMNHP job is a lucrative one.

How Can You Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

The Goodwin University Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program takes as few as seven semesters part-time to complete. Your degree is earned completely online, besides clinical practice and two on-campus immersion weekends. It’s pretty incredible that this exciting branch of nursing education is so conveniently and quickly at your fingertips!

What does it take to apply? There are a few prerequisites before you can jump into this master’s program, but nothing that should come as a surprise. You will need to possess a RN license and a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as two or more years of direct patient care earned within the last five years. Besides this, you’ll have to supply a transcript, a resume, and a personal essay about your intentions for practicing as a mental health nurse, and participate in a telephone interview. You’ll probably be pleased to hear that GRE scores are not required to become a PMHNP.

Helping patients by treating the whole person through mental health is not only a worthwhile choice for you, but it is truly a life-changer for your patients. Imagine making an impact that allows a patient to finally handle their crippling anxiety, or to come to terms with the effects of trauma from a violent past. Learn more about why the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse career could be the right fit for you on the next leg of your professional journey! Visit Goodwin University online or call us at 800-889-3282.