A psychiatric nurse practitioner or mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is a registered nurse (APRN) who has earned either their MSN or DNP degree and has obtained board certification as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners provide psychiatric/mental health care to patients suffering from a number of mental disorders from substance abuse to schizophrenia and a variety of other cognitive disorders.
These practitioners will diagnosis and treat their patients medical condition, prescribe medications, provide therapy and create treatment plans to help their patients cope with their mental disorder and if possible help them achieve full mental health and stability.
What do psychiatric nurse practitioners do?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners provide medical care to patients suffering from a variety of mental illnesses/ailments, diagnose and treat their disorders, educate patients on how to cope and deal with their mental ailments, prescribe medications and treatment plans and help patients achieve optimal health through education and treatment.
Where do psychiatric nurse practitioners work?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners perform their medical tasks in many different health care settings such as universities and colleges, clinician offices, doctor offices, hospitals, nursing homes, government facilities, practitioner offices, urgent health care centers and walk in clinics.
What do psychiatric nurse practitioners make?
The amount of money a psychiatric nurse practitioner makes in a given year depends on their overall level of education and training, how many hours they work, any benefits and incentives they received, any cashed in unused/paid vacation time they acquired and any agreements between them and their employer.
One common factor among most professions that determine salary and pay scale has to do with the state they operate in.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners that work in New York for example can expect an income of $60,000 – $180,000 or more, while psychiatric nurse practitioners that operate in Wyoming can expect an annual salary of $45,000 – $135,000 or more.
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Keep in mind that these salaries may not include any incentives or overtime acquired throughout the year, so it is possible for some psychiatric nurse practitioners to make significantly more than others.
How do I start a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner?
Becoming psychiatric nurse practitioner begins with finishing high school and obtaining your GED or diploma.
After earning your GED or diploma you’ll want to look for a college or university with an accredited nursing program.
Some schools may only offer a 2 year ASN degree, so if you apply to one of these schools you may have to change to another school that offers a BSN program upon successful completion of the ASN program, just make sure that your credits are transferable.
After completing the BSN program and earning your license most schools offering NP programs require at least 1 – 2 years of RN experience before allowing you to take their program, so you’ll need to apply for a nursing position and spend some time gaining work experience before heading into the NP program.
Once you’ve acquired the necessary training and experience you can choose a field of study that you would like to earn your MSN or DNP in such as geriatric care, psychiatric care, neonatal care or family care and apply for the NP program.
Registered nurses that enter the NP program will obtain a variety of classroom and real world training through textbooks, video programs, simulation exercises, classroom lectures and internships.
Students may be required to earn as much as 600 hours of clinical training before being able to earn their NP certification.
Once you’ve completed the PMHNP program and earned the required number clinical work hours you must sustain your RN license and PMHNP certification in order to work as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
Note: As education standards rise it is possible that all NP programs will be DNP only programs by 2015, successfully eliminating any opportunities to graduate and work as an NP with an MSN.