pmhnp day in the life

What is it Like to Be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner? A Day in the Life of a PMHNP

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) are vital members of the medical team. Much like the title entails, these professionals spend their days helping patients who struggle with mental health disorders and distress. They are compassionate, strong, and knowledgeable practitioners, with the unique ability to help patients cope with psychiatric conditions. If you are a strong communicator and have a passion for helping others, becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner could be the right next step for you.

As an aspiring caregiver, you may be wondering, “What is it really like to be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?” Will it add more variety, excitement, challenges, and difference-making to your current day-to-day role? Will you enjoy the daily, and sometimes demanding, work of a PMHNP? Without a doubt, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners enjoy an exciting career that ensures room for growth, challenge, discovery, and variety every day. Below, we outline a day-in-the-life of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, starting with the basics.

What is a PMHNP?

A Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) practices patient-centered, holistic care in efforts to treat mental health disorders as well as physical conditions. PMHNPs can help patients suffering from numerous mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.

In order to become a PMHNP, one must complete a master’s degree as well as earn certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Commission (ANCC) Board. This will enable you to become certified as an APRN, which is required to practice as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Here is a full list of steps to complete before you can work in this dynamic field:

Goodwin’s PMHNP-APRN program is offered entirely online, except for two immersion weekends and clinical practice, and can be completed in as little as seven semesters. The program will enable you to administer therapy, diagnose conditions, evaluate treatment plans, prescribe medication, and advocate for patients struggling with mental health conditions. Through a combination of psychosocial and physical coursework, you will walk away with a readiness to make an essential impact in the mental health community.

Where Can Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work, and With What Demographics?

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners are qualified to work in many settings and with a variety of patient populations. For example, PMHNPs can work with youth suffering from mental disorders, elderly patients grappling with lessening functions, or people in rehab programs struggling with substance abuse.

Here are some examples of the different patient populations you may encounter as a PMHNP:

  • Children and adults involved in the correctional justice system
  • People with histories of abuse or trauma
  • Veterans struggling with PTSD
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Victims of violence and assault
  • Teens and adults struggling with substance addiction
  • Youth and adults struggling with psychiatric conditions and mood disorders

In terms of workplace settings, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners have options in both inpatient and outpatient programs. Some PMHNPs have private practices and others work in psychiatric hospitals, assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, or rehab facilities.

PMHNPs tend to work full-time, with 40-hour weeks and varying shifts, depending on where they work. Those in hospital settings may commit to on-call and some overnight shifts, but have several days off at a time. Those in private practices may work Monday through Friday, during office hours. No matter where they work, PMHNPs enjoy high earning potential. In May 2020, the median salary for Nurse Practitioners was $117,670. Job prospects are also bright, projected to grow an incredible 45 percent from 2019 to 2029 – eleven times the rate of all other occupations! This means now is an amazing time to get into this field, as job openings are vast.

A Day in The Life of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners enjoy an exciting career, as every day can bring new patients, cases, and treatments to explore. For example, one day you may be counseling someone struggling with depression. The next day you might be running tests and trying to diagnose a deep-seated stress disorder. All the while, you will be making a difference by helping those with mental health issues. Patients with mental health disorders feel stigma and shame for their struggles, but your everyday commitment to their recovery is an incredible undertaking.

Here are some of the typical, daily tasks of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner:

  • Diagnosing patients for mental disorders, as well as being able to differentiate if a patient is experiencing a psychological or physical-based disorder
  • Documenting a patient’s past history and evaluating how that may have led to a mental disorder, such as family genetic history or past trauma
  • Laying out a mental health treatment plan for recovery, including taking medication and attending counseling
  • Prescribing medication and making sure a patient keeps up with their daily medication schedule
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment plan
  • Collaborating with a patient’s health team to potentially modify their care plan
  • Educating families and patients on how to provide care at home

Weekly or monthly tasks of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner can include:

  • Teaching mental health themed classes in topics such as stress reduction
  • Meeting with your patients’ treatment team to discuss developments
  • Leading therapy sessions for individuals, families, or groups

Becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

What is it like to be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner? Find out for yourself! If a day in the life of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner has peaked your interest, and you would like to get involved, your next step is to find a master’s program that works with your schedule and aligns with your goals. With Goodwin’s online PMHNP program, you will accelerate your career as an APRN while also achieving the flexibility to hold down a job and live a full life. Being a PMHNP gives you the promising benefits of nursing practice, while allowing you to treat psychiatric concerns and help people live their best possible lives. Visit Goodwin University online for more information or call us at 800-889-3282 to learn more.