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Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric nurse practitioners see and treat patients who have psychiatric disorders, personality and mood disorders and substance abuse problems. They may provide emergency psychiatric services, perform psychosocial assessments of their patients, implement treatment plans and practice as a therapist. Psychiatric nurse practitioners consult with patients and their families about diagnoses, treatment plans and educate them on mental health care and beneficial lifestyle choices. Like physicians, psychiatric nurse practitioners have the ability to prescribe medication to patients. Some psychiatric nurse practitioners sub-specialize in different areas of nursing or treat specific ages, whereas others handle large groups of people from various mental backgrounds. Many nurse practitioners work in private practice settings, mental health centers, clinics, hospitals, physicians’ offices and HMOs.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (RNs), who have undergone many years of training, including specialized training in psychiatric-mental health nursing. Most psychiatric nurse practitioners earn their master’s degree in adult psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner programs. Those who want to switch to psychiatric nursing can apply to work as an entry-level psychiatric nurse in a hospital or agency, in addition to completing the necessary schooling. Once these steps have been met, nurses will need to become certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In order to be eligible to take the certification exam, nurses must complete a minimum of 500 faculty supervised clinical hours in a nurse practitioner program, as well as have a master’s degree and be currently licensed as an RN.

Like other advanced practice nurses, psychiatric nurse practitioners make favorable salaries, with many opportunities for advancement. According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, psychiatric nurse practitioners make about $60,000 to $78,000 per year. Often times, psychiatric nurse practitioners enhance their learning by earning doctoral degrees so that they can become professors, researchers or hospital, agency or graduate-level program administrators.