What Factors Should I Consider Before Working as a Psychiatric Nurse?

What Factors Should I Consider Before Working as a Psychiatric Nurse?If you are training to become a nurse, you might have wondered what factors you should consider before working a psychiatric nurse. Many nursing programs have clinical rotations that introduce students to a variety of nursing environments, including psychiatric care. However, not all programs include clinicals, and even those that do may not include a rotation that gives you a clear understanding of what you will face as a psychiatric nurse. Let’s examine what you can expect if you take a job as a mental health psychiatric nurse.

What a Psychiatric Nurse Does

Although psychiatric nurses are not required to have specialized training in counseling, psychology or social work, all of these fields play into the job. Psychiatric nurses work in psychiatric wards in traditional hospital settings, and they also work in psychiatric nursing homes. They provide basic patient services much like any other medical-surgical nurse. They dispense medication and take vitals. In addition to providing medical treatments, however, nurses in mental health facilities are involved with assessing the mental health condition of patients and consulting, evaluating, and listening to mental health patients.

How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse

Entry-level positions for psychiatric nurses are available to Registered Nurses (RNs) with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree (see: Top 10 Best Online RN to BSN Programs). In order to procure better positions within this nursing specialty, many nurses will seek master’s studies or even complete a doctoral program. Nurses that specialize as Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PMH-APRNs) often have their own practices where they provide treatment to those with psychiatric disorders. However, nurses who wish to work with patients in crisis or to care for those in long-term psychiatric care do not have to complete schooling beyond their undergraduate degree.

Working with Patients in Crisis

Unlike licensed practical counselors, psychiatric nurses usually see patients on their worst days. This means that the patients of a psychiatric nurse may be verbally or physically combative. Many patients treated by psychiatric nurses are on suicide watch or being monitored for other destructive behavior. Psychiatric nurses must be good listeners and also well trained in crisis intervention. Often, they are the frontline workers in explosive situations. They may find it necessary to physically restrain patients without causing injury or harm, and they must work with interns, psychiatrists, aids and other mental health staff to address crisis situations.

    Skills Necessary to Be a Psychiatric Nurse

    Psychiatric nurses should have the following traits:

  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication abilities
  • Empathetic listening skills
  • Passion for patient advocacy
  • Healthy personal fitness
  • Clear boundaries

Nursing careers can take a variety of different paths. Those who enjoy caring for the mental and emotional needs of others as well as physical needs might do well in a psychiatric care setting. This type of job isn’t for everyone, but there is currently a shortage of qualified mental health psychiatric nurses. Now that you are aware of some factors to consider before working a psychiatric nurse, analyze if this is the right nursing specialization for you.