A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) with a master’s degree in nursing and a specialization in psychiatric nursing. To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner requires a minimum of 6 years of education, part of which includes hands-on didactic training. A national certification exam administered by the American Nurse Credentialing Center must be passed, and state licensing obtained before a psychiatric nurse practitioner may legally practice. Psychiatric nurse practitioners generally work under a supervising psychiatric physician; however, some states allow ARNPs to work independently. The work of a psychiatric nurse practitioner generally includes performing a mental health assessment, diagnosis of mental health disorders, and prescribing psychiatric medications as indicated, talk and group therapy, and following and managing patients over a lifespan. Psychiatric nurse practitioners may work with a variety of patient populations, including pediatric, adult and elderly clients. Practice settings can include inpatient and outpatient mental health clinics, hospital-based psychiatric units, state-run mental health hospitals, jails and prisons, and private practice psychiatric offices. Working conditions can include contact with mentally unstable persons and persons with violent tendencies. Working hours are generally weekdays, but may include nights, weekends and holidays as needed. Psychiatric nurse practitioners must be aware of the state and national laws regarding privacy and reporting and holding of suicidal and dangerous persons. A calm, understanding demeanor and genuine desire to help others is a must. With the increased awareness of mental health, the role of the psychiatric nurse practitioner has increased.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) Tasks
- Provide physicians with assistance during surgery or complicated medical procedures.
- Administer therapeutic procedures.
- Prescribe therapy or medication with physician approval.
- Conduct complete physicals, provide treatment and counsel patients.
- Order and interpret test results and recommend treatment of patients.