Working in Psych
Marijke Durning | Scrubs Magazine
Have you been wondering if you have the stuff that it takes to work in psych? Or are you already working there and thinking about moving up the ladder, perhaps to Psychiatric Nursing Practitioner (or Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse)? If so, here’s some information that might help you make that decision.
What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Actually Do?
As with most fields in nursing, what Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can do and what they may do varies across the country and with each board of nursing. But here are some general duties of a practitioner:
• Taking histories and doing physical and mental examinations and assessments
• Screening for mental health issues
• Interpreting diagnostic and lab tests
• Diagnosing psychiatric disorders and mental conditions, distinguishing between mental conditions that can cause psychiatric symptoms
• Therapy for individuals, families or groups
• Treatment of certain medical issues
• Education and public awareness of mental illness
• Monitoring patient medications and treatment
• Working on preventative health programs
• Referring patients to specialists for areas outside the practitioner’s scope
• Working with other healthcare practitioners to provide care
• Teaching other nurses
As you can see, the job description differs significantly from that of the nurses who work on the floor with the patients. There is hands-on work, but at a different level.
If you’ve been thinking about this field and you haven’t already earned your master’s degree in nursing (MSN), this will be your next step. To be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, you need at least an MSN.