Psychiatric nurses are specialized professionals who work within hospitals or smaller healthcare facilities, and help patients with various psychological conditions. This includes working with people who suffer from schizophrenia or psychosis, as well as those who could be experiencing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These nurses are responsible for identifying the health needs of patients and meeting these needs. If you want to learn how to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, continue reading our guide for some helpful information.
What Type Of Degree Do I Need?
In order to become a psychiatric nurse, you will have to first become a registered nurse. There are three ways of doing so. The first involves obtaining a hospital training diploma. These are programs offered by hospitals which cover the basic training requirements you need in order to do your duties. These programs typically last a year, and prepare you enough to take the appropriate licensing exams. The second option is slightly more rigorous. It involves obtaining an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN), which is a two-year long program offered by community colleges. These programs cover theoretical and practical learning in a classroom-based manner. As a result, your grasp of material and chances of growth in the career also improve. The last option is obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This is a comprehensive, four-year program offered by universities. In addition to training you in the skills required to be an effective nurse, these programs also place an emphasis on humanities and social sciences to improve critical thinking ability. Individuals with this training have the strongest career prospects.
In each of these choices, you will be required to specialize your learning towards the psychiatric field. This will allow you to understand how the human brain works in a medical context, and help you pass all the licensing exams along the way. It is also a good idea to choose psychiatric rotations or volunteer in a psychiatric facility to help develop your professional skills. Psychiatric nurse practitioners must possess excellent communication and team management skills, and your vocational experience can help you improve on these. Many accredited nursing schools are now offering online programs for students to complete their studies. There are several advantages of online nursing programs versus campus-based programs: flexibility in course schedules, taking classes in the comfort of your own home, and online programs are generally lower in cost.
Before you can formally practice your profession in the US, you will have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), and also the test meant specifically for a psychiatric nurse practitioner. This latter test is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). While some states require the ANCC certification, others consider it a bonus point and will offer you better compensation. Therefore, it is recommened that you obtain this certification. After you have passed these tests, you may work in a variety of healthcare facilities helping patients obtain proper psychiatric care. You could also continue your education and enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, which will give you the opportunity to specialize in particular area of psychiatry and also improve your chances of growth within your career.