Why be a Psychiatrist when you could be a Psych NP?

  1. Hello everyone,

    I just had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is applying to PMHNP programs along with me. I wanted to get people's opinion on it. He said that psychiatrists are one of the lowering paying physician specialties, while a psych NP is one of the highest (I know CRNA is the highest though). We talked for a while and he made a lot of sense. A psych NP has most of the privilages that a psychiatrist has and in some states can prescribe independently. Now, I know that psychiatrists can make over 300k very easily, but the average salary is around 170k (at least that's what he told me). I have heard that psych np's make around 100k, with a lot reaching the 150k mark. I have even heard, by several people, of some psych NP's making around 300k. Compared with med-school debt, years working etc, it definitely seems like going the psych NP route is a better decision (if you do not care about prestige, etc.) I feel very confident on my decision to pursue this field.

    Let it be known that I am not pursuing this field for the money. I love the holistic approach to nursing and I find working with the mentally ill very rewarding. I actually plan on working with the urban-poor (if I am accepted) after I graduate. I just thought it was an interesting topic that he brought up. What does everyone else think about this? I thought it made a lot of sense.
    Last edit by maziemoo22 on Sep 29, '09
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    About maziemoo22

    Joined: Jul '09; Posts: 71; Likes: 8


  3. by   elkpark
    Some people want to be physicians. Some people want to be nurses. A growing number of people seem to want to split the difference and are looking for ways to have the autonomy and income of physicians without having to put forth the time, effort, and expense to become a physician. To each her/his own.
  4. by   luckylady5
    Hi everyone,

    I am new, both to the idea of becoming a nurse practitioner, and to this very helpful site. My have long had an interest in mental health and have thought in the past of pursuing a degree in clinical social work or psychology, but it seems from what information I've been able to get that a nurse practitioner program in mental health might be the best bet - being able to do therapy and prescribe, having the ability to open my own office at some point, etc. If anyone has more information they could share, I'd love to read it. I'm curious about the work hours involved - does this type of nursing offer the same flexibility as do other areas of nursing? I have a family and hope to be able to find a career/schedule that allows me to be able to comfortably take care of my responsibilities at home and also have a fulfilling career. I would also love to know about the stress level in this area of nursing, general employment outlook, and salary. The above poster mentioned $100,000+, which I thought might be a bit high - the salary information I have seen has been around $60-80,000. Any input is appreciated!
  5. by   Smitty08
    It really depends on the area of the country - both in terms of salary and in terms of practice restrictions. Here in the northeast the salaries and opportunities are good. We are moving also towards completely independent practice, which will help as well.
  6. by   luckylady5
    Thanks for the response, Smitty. I live in the Northeast too - Massachusetts. You say that opportunities and salary are "good" - can you provide any more details? I am trying to gather as much information as I can before I apply - this is a big step and I want to make an informed decision. Application deadline is November 1st! Thank you!
  7. by   maziemoo22
    While I think that 80 is a good estimate, many PMHNP's make 100k and over. I've seen a number of these jobs advertise on indeed.com, i've even seen an advertised job for 150k (only once though).