In this article we’ll address questions related to the psychiatric nursing such as education requirements, duties, pay, work schedules, benefits, who hires them and weigh the pros and cons of this profession.
Psychiatric nursing is a specialty field and anyone desiring to pursue a career as a psychiatric nurse must attend and successfully complete an accredited nursing school with an associates or bachelors Degree. After graduating nursing school, the next step is taking and passing the National Nursing License exam, the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or better known as the (NCLEX-RN).
After successful completion of the NCLEX-RN, you will not be eligible to take the exam for Psychiatric Nurse Certification until you have met the following requirements:
1: You must hold a current, active RN license within a state or territory of the United States or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country. For International Applicants there are additional requirements for candidates wanting to work in this field outside of the US.
2: You must have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse.
3: You must have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in psychiatric–mental health nursing within the last 3 years.
4: You must have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education in psychiatric–mental health nursing within the last 3 years.
After meeting the above requirements, applicants can then apply to take the Psychiatric Nurse Certification exam.
After successfully passing the exam, the awarded credential called the Registered Nurse-Board Certified (RN-BC) is valid for 5 years.
There are sub-specialties within Psychiatric Nursing. Some of these sub-specialties are working with children, teens, adults, the elderly, or working with patients that have substance abuse issues.
Although the RN-BC certification is not a requirement for nurses to work in the Psychiatry field, gaining the RN-BC allows the nurse to stand out among the others as it affirms his or her commitment and dedication to the psychiatry field and it also helps the nurse stand out above others who do not have this certification in a competitive interview process.
Some of the common job description attributes of a Psychiatric Nurse are:
1: Assess and manage the mental health needs of their clients.
2: Work with patients who have chronic or persistent mental illness, such as schizophrenia, or depression.
3: Working to teach patients how to cope and deal with life crises, such as the loss of a limb or sudden blindness, grief following the death of a loved one such as a spouse or child, a new cancer diagnosis, e.t.c.
4: Develop a plan of care based on a nursing diagnosis and implement the initiatives and evaluate the results.
5: They also often administer psychiatric medications and monitor the client for results.
6: They are also responsible for the well-being of the patient’s physical needs, such as hygiene and proper diet, as well as mental duress.
7: Asses and formulate a plan of patient activities that reflect the patients interests. Such as sporting activities, various hobbies like arts and crafts, photography, e.t.c.
8: Working not just with the patient, but the family of the patient as well.
9: Maintain the patient’s health records.
A psychiatric nurse works with other staff members to help organize social events that will assist in building the patient’s social skills.
Some other socialization processes that psychiatric nurses help develop, plan and implement may include but are not limited to: participation in group therapy sessions, either individually or with other health professionals, and in outpatient care.
For a psychiatric nurse, it takes a large measure of sensitivity and understanding to be effective in their trade. Most of the patients that are in need of psychiatric therapy suffer from a debilitating disease, loss of a limb, as well as a mental disorder.
Psychiatric Nurses work in a variety of locations, some work for private healthcare companies that have their offices away from the traditional hospitals. Some work in the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit, while others work in the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) on the hospital grounds. For those working in metal fcilities, hopefully they can help to prevent patient abuse at mental hospitals that is way too common.
Psychiatric Nurse Pay and benefits: A psychiatric nurses pay and benefits will vary depending on a variety of factors such as:
3: Years of experience
4: Job performance
5: Companies and Hospitals each have their own set pay scales and benefits packages. Some are more lucrative than others.
As of December 2014 the average 25% to 90% of psychiatric nurses pay range from $61,000.00 to $87,000.00 annually. The median average annual income holds at about $69,000.00 per year, which is near the average nurse pay rate.
Due to the competitive nature of the nursing profession, many listed job openings will not openly disclose salary or benefits packages, but almost all companies offer at the very least some if not all of the following; bonus incentives, 401K retirement programs, paid vacation time, reduced tuition costs for continuing education, fast track education programs, e.t.c.
Work hours and shifts will vary, again depending on where you are employed. Eight, ten and twelve hour shifts are the norm. Some places have rotating shifts where you may work one week of days and then switch over to one week of working nights. You may even get an eight hour, nine to five work schedule depending on who and where you are employed.
Who hires psychiatric nurses? Hospitals and Private Behavioral Health firms are the two most common. But the US Government hires them as well. Some of the Government agencies that hire Psychiatric Nurses are the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Armed Forces. You’ll also find them at Government / Military Hospitals as well, in such places like Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center, e.t.c. Working as a government employed nurse has a lot of great benefits to consider.
Pros and Cons: As with any job in the nursing profession, each has its pros and cons, but in the end, they are all about the same. You just have to take the good and the bad with an open mind and have a strong desire to make a difference in someone’s life.
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