I've been a psych CS (Master's prepared, but different from a psych NP; I'm not sure how familiar you are with the different roles) for ~10 years (and a psych staff nurse for ~10 years before that). Is your main interest in being a psychotherapist? Because most of the psych NPs I have encountered work as assistants to the psychiatrists (I'm speaking of inpatient settings); they manage the clients' physical illnesses/complaints and do some
initial/admission psych evals and lots
of daily rounds -- which means, basically, that they talk to the client for as short a time as necessary to figure out which meds to order for them (time is money for psych NPs as well as MDs). I have not seen any psych NPs functioning in a therapist role -- their time is considered too valuable for that, same as psychiatrists.
I am trained as a child/adolescent psychotherapist, and applied a few years back for a nursing faculty position at a university in a state which offers prescriptive authority to psych CSs. The position would have been a joint appointment, teaching part-time and practicing part-time in a local outpatient MHC. I was told in my interview process that the school and clinic would expect me to take the steps necessary to get prescriptive authority in the state ASAP, and my job at the clinic would be to see clients for 15-minute medication appointments (talking with each client v. briefly to find out what kind of response s/he is having to the medication, whether they're having any side effects from the drugs, and write new prescriptions ... All that, and the charting, within 15 minutes, and then on to the next person! :uhoh21: ) When I questioned this and explained that my real interest and training were in psychotherapy, the psych nursing department head who was showing me around for the day told me flat out that no one
in that state would hire me to be a therapist, because I was much more "valuable" as someone who could write Rxs, and the only jobs I would get offered would be doing med management. Bottom line, the main value of psych NPs to most (all?) employers is that they can write scrips (and cost less than an MD). Is that what you're looking for when you write about taking "a more comprehensive approach to patient care?"
I'm sure you're aware that advanced practice psych nurses (whether Css or NPs) make a whole lot more money than MSWs, but have you really investigated the difference in the roles and what would be expected of you in school and practice? I've talked to quite a number of MSWs (and psychologists) over the years who have been interested in becoming a psych NP or CS because they have the idea that it would mean doing the same thing they've been doing, but getting paid more money for doing it (I don't meant to sound offensive, and I'm not
drawing any conclusions about you or your motivations -- I'm just describing honestly my own personal experience.) Becoming a psych NP through a 3-year, direct-entry program like you mention would mean going through at least a year of general, basic nursing education ("regular" nursing, not psych nursing) -- getting very intimate with people's physical problems and providing for all their physical needs. You would take the same licensing exam that every RN working as a staff nurse on a hospital medical-surgical unit takes, and be held legally accountable for all the same knowledge and skills as every other RN ...
I am not trying to talk you out of anything, but would encourage you to investigate thoroughly what you would be getting into and whether that is something that seriously interests you. And this is just one person's opinion/experience; there may be others here on the board with entirely different views, and I'm sure you'll hear from some of them. Best wishes on whatever you decide!