Psychiatric nursing, also known as mental health nursing, is a promising career field for those with a passion for the well-being of people who are facing tough mental challenges. Within this career genre, nurses may advance in their profession to specialize in focused fields of mental health care, including adolescent care and gerontology. A registered nurse license is required before becoming a psychiatric nurse and advanced degrees in this professional specialty are available. The available work environments for psychiatric nurses are varied and depend on level of education and experience.
What is Psychiatric Nursing?
Psychiatric nursing is a sub-specialty in which the professional cares for individuals and families dealing with mental health concerns. It is the job of the psychiatric nurse to assess the needs of the patient and assist in developing a plan for caring for individuals. Nurses in this specialty are also responsible for implementing practical nursing practices and evaluating the results of care plans in place for individual patients.
According to the American Psychiatric Nursing Association, there are options for further specialization within this career genre. Specialties within psychiatric nursing include child nursing, gerontological nursing, forensics, and substance abuse nursing. Furthermore, nurses may participate in counseling and consultations with other psychiatric health professionals that are caring for a patient. Success in this sub-specialty relies heavily on the nurse’s interaction with other care providers and a deep understanding of major psychological disorders that affect patient care outcomes.
Nursing School Curriculum for Psychiatric Nursing
In order to become a psychiatric nurse, once must first graduate from an accredited nursing school and obtain registered nursing certification and licensing. Becoming an RN often requires two to three years (or more) of college before earning certification, but some nurses may graduate from a diploma program. After graduation and licensing, RNs may take relevant certification tests to become a basic psychiatric nurse.
Continuing education for psychiatric nursing includes relevant research results in the area of medicine and mental health care. Additionally, many nurses in this specialty choose to return to college and earn a Master’s or Doctorate in psychiatric nursing to expand the career options and widen their impact on mental health care. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing provides in-depth, detailed information about the process of becoming a primary care provider in psychology.
Careers for Nursing School Graduates with Psychiatric Nursing Specialty
Psychiatric nurses work in all sorts of settings, including mental health institutions and hospitals. The work environment for mental health care providers can be very taxing, so a good routine that includes exercise and emotional outlet is essential. With advanced degrees, psychiatric nurses can become university professors, administrators, counselors, and play other roles in mental health care.
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