LCSW, PMHNP, or PA

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    I have a couple of questions. I am deciding between becoming a LCSW, a PA and working in mental health and a PMHNP. I am leaning toward the NP. I am still in my prereqs of undergrad studies. will Ibe prepared for a PMHNP role with just a year of RN experience? I had assumed that a LCSW and PMHNP have very similar duties. Is this correct? There seem to better job prospects for the SW and NP than the PA in mental health but i seem to hear that PAs are more prepared even coming fresh out of grad school. Is this true?
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    I'm a lowly RN who's worked with all of the professionals you've mentioned, and as far as I have observed, the social workers are vastly underplayed as compared to nurses, at least here in the Philadelphia Pa area. I have had many SW colleagues, and they barely were paid more than the nurses' aides in the hospitals and jail systems. And that's with a Master's degree and license!!
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    I will second what ddunnrn has said(except for the "lowly" RN part!) Social workers tend to fill a different role than NPs and PAs. NPs and PAs mostly do prescribing, while social workers do case work. As far as counseling, that's the realm of LCSWs and NPs in private practice. Prescribing is where the money is... No one wants to hire a PMHNP at NP wages to do counseling, when they can hire a LCSW or LPC to do the same for half the price. The NPs doing therapy are mostly running their own practices.
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    social work - market is terrible, pay sucks, etc.

    Definitely do PMHNP. PAs get little training in psych compared with a psych np, no therapy training whatsoever, etc. As a NP, you will receive far more psych training than a PA, and be licensed to do therapy.
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    IMO regardless of your area of work; you're always going to feel rather new when you go out to the field. In mississippi where i am we have a 720 hour law (for regular NP's) that require you when your a new grad to be in the same building as a staff MD or experienced NP in the event of problems...
    As long as your an NP with a job that has staff that care about you, you'll be pretty much good to go.


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