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Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: A Growing Profession
- Have you heard of a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP)? Are you wondering, “What is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner?“
- Nurse practitioners are working in almost all specialties now including psychiatrics and mental health.
- Let‘s break it down and cover everything you should know about being a PMHNP!
MPH, MSN, WHNP-BC
You’re here because you’re wondering what a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is! A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is a type of advanced practice registered nurse who specializes in mental health needs for patients. PMHNPs are also referred to as psych nurse practitioners or mental health nurse practitioners.
Advance practice registered nurses are also known as clinicians or mid-level providers.
When I first started to read about nursing and learned about what is a psych NP, I wondered about the differences between psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners and other nursing professions.
Whether you are curious about entering the nursing profession or wondering who took care of you on your last visit, this post is for you!
Education of a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
PMHNPs are a type of nurse practitioner with training and education in mental health and psychiatry.
Psychiatry is a medical field of study focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental health conditions. PMHNPs have a graduate-level degree in psychiatric/mental health nursing.
Some PMHNPs work as registered nurses before going back to school. Other PMHNPs have entered the nursing profession via an accelerated or direct entry nursing program.
Salary varies by state and place of employment, such as a hospital or private practice.
Typically, hospitals pay more than private practices, and PMHNPs with more experience have a higher salary than recent graduates.
According to Salary.com, the average salary for a PMHNP is $112,000. Note that this average varies depending on experience, location, and place of work.
Where Do They Work?
PMHNPs can work in many places, such as:
- Public health departments
- Palliative and hospice care facilities
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Telehealth start-ups
- Correctional facilities
- Clinical research facilities
- Community health centers, and more.
A PMHNP can also specialize in private consulting, serve as sexual assault nurse examiners, or teach at nursing schools.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice
PMHNPs can see people of all ages regarding mental health. Some PMHNPs specialize in certain patient populations, such as pregnant patients, pediatrics, or veterans.
Common PMHNP duties include:
- Provide different types of psychotherapy, such as individual, group, couples, and/or family
- Prescribe medication
- Conduct comprehensive mental health assessments
- Administer immunizations
- Order pertinent testing
- Interpret lab results
- Offer referrals for specialty care
- Work in collaboration with other clinicians
- and of course, educate and counsel patients as needed.
This is just a sample of what PMHNPs can do! The scope of work for a PMHNP strongly depends on their training, local boards of nursing, workplace practices, and state legislation.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner vs Other Advanced Practice Specialities
While PMHNPs can see patients from all walks of life and across all age groups, PMHNPs play a key role in mental health education and care. Mental health is a topic truly close to any PMHNP’s heart.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner vs a Therapist
Therapists are not able to prescribe medications and do not approach mental health care from a nursing education. PMHNPs can foster a relationship with their patients since they can provide psychotherapy services, approach mental health care from a nursing perspective, and can perform nurse practitioner duties.
Because of this continuity of care mental health care PMHNPs provide, they are typically seen as trailblazers in their local community regarding mental health.
If you are considering being a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, I would recommend that you ask yourself if you truly are passionate about mental health, nursing, and compassionate patient care.
The Bottom Line
If you are thinking about becoming a PMHNP or learning more about the profession, look into the American Psychiatric Nurses Association or the National Association of Psychiatry Mental Health Nurse Practitioners.
You can also learn about the growing field of psychiatric and mental health nursing by reading the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing or the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
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