What do psychiatric nurses do?
The clinical practice of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing occurs at two levels: Basic and Advanced. At the basic level, registered nurses work with individuals, families, groups and communities, assessing mental health needs, developing a nursing diagnosis and a plan of nursing care, implementing the plan and finally evaluating the nursing care. Basic level nursing practice is characterized by interventions that promote and foster health and mental health, assist clients to regain or improve their coping skills or abilities, and prevent further disability.
In working with psychiatric clients or patients, basic level nurses assist then with self care, administer and monitor psychobiologic treatment regimens, teach about health and mental health individually or in groups, including psycho-education. Basic level nurses are also prepared to assist with crisis intervention, counseling and work as case managers.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) have a Master’s degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing and assume the role of either Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner. Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing (PMHN) is considered a “Specialty” in nursing. Specialty practice is part of the course work in a Master’s Degree Program. In addition to the functions performed at the basic level, APRN’s assess, diagnose, and treat individuals or families with psychiatric problems/disorders or the potential for such disorders. They provide a full range of primary mental health care services to individuals, families, groups and communities, function as psychotherapists, educators, consultants, advanced case managers, and administrators. In many states, APRN’s have the authority to prescribe medications. Qualified to practice independently, Psychiatric-Mental Health APRN’s offer direct care services in a variety of settings: Mental Health Centers, community mental health programs, homes, offices, HMOs, etc.
Because of their broad background in both the biological, including pharmacological, sciences as well as the behavioral sciences, APRNs in PMHN are a rich resource as providers of psychiatric-mental health services and are advocates of and partners with the consumers of their services.
Psychiatric Nurses who earn doctoral degrees (PhD, DNSc, EdD) often are found teaching, doing research, or as administrators in hospitals, agencies or schools