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Psychiatric Nurse Job Description, Career as a Psychiatric Nurse, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and license as registered nurse required

Median Salary: $61,565 per year

Job Prospects: Very good

Job Description

Psychiatric nurses work as registered nurses to care for and support patients who have mental disabilities. Though this is a role as typical in its caregiving responsibilities as any other registered nurse, there is a special level of skill required to care for those with psychiatric needs.

Psychiatric nurses evaluate the needs of their patients, and they administer treatments and therapies that allow these patients to function as normally as possible. Nurses in mental health develop care plans in response to the needs of their individual patients. They work in conjunction with the doctors on staff to develop a treatment plan that is right for each of their patients, and these specialized nurses ensure that this plan provides some sort of relief and functionality.

Psychiatric nurses may work in a support role, but they still must be well-versed in patient care for a variety of different mental disabilities and dysfunctions, and they must be able to provide fast and efficient nursing care for sometimes dangerous patients. They may be required to deal with crisis intervention and treatment, particularly for those patients who require special observation or for those that are on suicide watch.

Psychiatric nurses may administer medications, usually under doctor’s orders. They must be able to quickly deal with and assess the needs of the patient and to develop solutions, treatments that may need to fluctuate rapidly if the patient’s mental state changes. Psychiatric nurses may be involved with developing psychiatric care programs; educating other nursing students, doctors, and patients and their families; and and balance these functions with direct patient care. These nurses often teach those in entry-level positions, such as technicians, how to properly care for the patients within their facility.

Training/Educational Requirements

As with any other type of registered nurse, a psychiatric nurse usually has a bachelor’s degree. Generally this degree is in nursing from a university or nursing school. Any courses in nursing can help to prepare an individual for the role of a psychiatric nurse, though additional training may very well be required in the future. As is common with any type of nurse in this capacity, psychiatric nurses must hold a license to practice as a registered nurse in the state that they work within.

There may be additional training required for those providing nursing care within a psychiatric environment. These nurses must be well-versed not only in patient care and diagnosis but in the ability to deal with many different mental disabilities. There is always some level of ongoing education required to be a registered nurse, but there may be even further training required of those serving as a psychiatric nurse.

How to Get Hired

The best way to get hired as a psychiatric nurse is to first fulfill all of the requirements to be a registered nurse. Serving some sort of rotation with patients who have mental disabilities or disorders may be another excellent way to be hired initially. Education plays a big role at the beginning of this career path.

As a psychiatric nurse moves on in her or his career, the nurse should be able to demonstrate the ability to deal with many different types of mental disabilities. As this requires a certain skill set and specific personality traits, all experience within any type of psychiatric environment can increase the likelihood of a medical professional getting hired. Experience in different environments and with varying levels of mental disabilities can be an excellent way to get hired.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Fortunately, psychiatric nursing is in a period of growth. Because this type of nursing is a role within the health care industry, one can expect it to experience more growth. Because more and more hospitals and other medical facilities support varying levels of mental disabilities, they too contribute to more job openings.

There is great opportunity for advancement within this sector of the medical world. A psychiatric nurse can work comfortably within this role for an entire career, or the nurse may be promoted to a supervisory role. If they wish to pursue a higher degree, psychiatric nurses may eventually transition into a clinical nurse specialist role.

Working Environment

The typical working environment for a psychiatric nurse is at a psychiatric hospital or other medical facility. These nurses may also work at long-term care facilities or as part of a mental health agency or health department. As more and more facilities offer services for the mentally disabled, a wide array of different work environments are created.

A psychiatric nursing work environment can be a stressful one because the patients require a high degree of care, including in some cases, constant supervision or observation. Psychiatric nurses may occasionally work longer shifts but can still generally expect to work a typical number of shifts.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a psychiatric nurse is $61,565, but there can be quite a salary range. Those serving as a psychiatric nurse can expect to earn anywhere between $55,864 and $67,890. In some instances, psychiatric nurses can receive an hourly salary instead. The sllary range can be attributed to level of experience, environment, employer, and geographic location. Psychiatric nurses can expect to receive standard benefits, including medical coverage, paid vacation, and a 401k or related retirement fund. There may be greater benefits available depending on the environment that they work within.

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