Becoming a psych NP... no psych experience

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    I have three years med-surg experience and two years+ Medical ICU experience. Ive never worked psych as an RN but I was a mental health worker for one and a half years and I loved it. I've always been interested in psych but I wanted to become a well rounded nurse before I specialized in one field. What do you think my chances are of getting into a psych NP program with my background?? Please be honest

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  2. 16 Comments...

  3. 2
    I would suggest doing inpatient psych nursing and then maybe outpatient psychiatric clinic type nursing or psych home care. Getting a sense of psych nursing is important and you may decide it is not for you then you haven't wasted a lot of time and money for a degree you don't want to use.

    I am a psych home care nurse and love it but don't want the responsibilities of being a prescriber.
    Flo. and Jules A like this.
  4. 1
    ^ Ditto to the post above. You'll definitely want to get some experience before you invest the time and money. There are also significant differences between acute inpatient psych and outpatient.... just to keep in mind as you research your possibilities.
    Jules A likes this.
  5. 1
    Oh you can probably get in if you are willing to pony up the money. That doesn't mean you will be qualified to practice competently and write scripts for a population that you haven't ever spent time observing and working with, imo. Do yourself and your future patients a favor get some inpatient experience first. You could love it or hate it for some reason psych seems to run that way. Good luck.
    Meriwhen likes this.
  6. 0
    She said she was a mental health worker beforehand - she didn't say that she's never spent time observing and working with the pts. Just not as an RN.
  7. 0
    Quote from lissa.the.cocoa
    She said she was a mental health worker beforehand - she didn't say that she's never spent time observing and working with the pts. Just not as an RN.
    Oh well than that would surely qualify someone to write prescriptions for psychiatric medication after only 4 semesters.
  8. 0
    I just finished precepting a clinical rotation for a psych NP student who has been an ICU nurse for a few years but has no psych experience at all of any kind (other than her original psych experience in nursing school). So, to answer the actual question the OP asked, it apparently is possible to get into a program with no experience.

    (BTW, it's a legitimate, well-known and well-respected school she is at -- not one of the fly-by-night diploma-mill outfits.)
  9. 1
    Oh well than that would surely qualify someone to write prescriptions for psychiatric medication after only 4 semesters.

    You do realize that actual psychiatrists only have medical school and their internship before they are qualified to write any prescriptions? Or that theoretically, an RN with any kind of experience could get her PMHNP and write a script the next day? The only "qualifications" you need to write an Rx is the appropriate license.

    I didn't say that she'd be perfect right out the box, and I didn't tell her not get experience first in the field. But the only way to get experience is to actually WORK.

    Besides, I was addressing this:

    That doesn't mean you will be qualified to practice competently and write scripts for a population that you haven't ever spent time observing and working with, imo

    which was wrong. She HAS spent time observing and working with mental health pts, she said that in her first post.
    apocatastasis likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from elkpark
    I just finished precepting a clinical rotation for a psych NP student who has been an ICU nurse for a few years but has no psych experience at all of any kind (other than her original psych experience in nursing school). So, to answer the actual question the OP asked, it apparently is possible to get into a program with no experience.

    (BTW, it's a legitimate, well-known and well-respected school she is at -- not one of the fly-by-night diploma-mill outfits.)
    The school I know that admits CNLs, which is another topic along the same lines, with no nursing experience into their psychiatric NP program is also a well known respected school. I don't get it but no one asked my opinion.
  11. 0
    Quote from lissa.the.cocoa
    But the only way to get experience is to actually WORK.
    Yup which was why I suggested someone without psychiatric staff nurse experience is not imo a good fit for an advanced practice role without getting some work experience. I get that this is going to be your fast track route into nursing also but please consider the feedback from experienced nurses who have worked with these new grads and the possibility that just because the school takes your money doesn't mean it is the ideal situation for you or your patients.


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