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Interested in Mental Health- Options?

by mck149 mck149 (New) New


Recently, I have been thinking about the several facets the nursing profession has to offer, beyond the bedside. I have approximately two years of telemetry experience, specializing in neurology. I hold an associate's degree. Presently, I am not eager to leave the bedside, but I would like to return to school to obtain my BSN in the very near future.

I have a strong interest in mental health. I have been thinking about becoming a counselor, or something along those lines. 

My first question being, what are the career options for nurses in the mental health setting? I read about becoming a nurse psychotherapist. It sounds very interesting, and something I would like to learn more about. 

Secondly, what might you suggest to help gain adequate psych/mental health experience? I would like to try working at the bedside in the psych unit, or at a clinic if the opportunity is possible. Ultimately, my goal would be to practice at an outpatient facility.

I am looking at all of the possibilities, and am open to all input. Thank you for your time and thoughts! :)

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

I would recommend some time working in inpatient psych units. You can see people at their most acute; I think it would help you in the outpatient setting.

Have you thought about advanced practice mental health nursing?

RatchedAfterMidnight, MSN, APRN

Specializes in PMHNP/Adjunct Faculty. Has 7 years experience.

Experience on an inpatient unit or in a Psychiatric ER will give you the experience to work in any kind of setting. Also note that nurse psychotherapists must have a masters degree. Therapy is not in the scope of practice of an RN but therapeutic communication is. Most NPs have a medication management practice, not a therapy practice because the insurance reimbursement is very low. If you do a quick online RN to BSN program you could look into an NP Program in 1.5ish years. NP programs are taking 2.5-3 years for most people full time (6 hours). I would suggest a campus based program because they are mostly hybrid now and designed for the working nurse. When I was finishing school I went to campus about once a month and the rest was online/clinical. I would dissuade anyone from a full online program due to poor reputation to many potential employers.