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mtsteelhorse 18,514 Views

Joined: Jul 20, '07; Posts: 1,738 (14% Liked) ; Likes: 340
Corrections Nurse; from US
Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience in Correctional Nursing; MSN student

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  • Jan 4 '15

    Hi tseabury12, Congratulations on your acceptance into the PMHNP program at EKU! Have you decided where you are going to attend? There are 3 of us (myself included) that are starting the same program this January of 2015, and we found each other through this forum.

    Let me know if you decided on EKU. One of my fellow classmates started a FB EKU closed group for support, and we can invite you to join it as well. Take care and best of luck to you!

  • Nov 30 '14

    PERRLA was easily one of the best investments I made in school. Made APA an afterthought when it was one of the things I was more aprehensive about when starting my program. I finished my program a few weeks ago with a 4.0 and never got a single point deduction on any paper for incorrect APA formatting, which was often at least a quarter of the grade. In undergrad several years ago I felt like I spent just as much time plowing through the APA manual as I did writing the paper. I wish PERRLA was around then.

  • Nov 30 '14

    Definitely PERRLA for under grad and currently Grad school. I also use this website quite a bit as well Citefast automatically formats citations: APA 6th edition, MLA 7th ed. and Chicago 16th ed.
    Money well spent for the time and effort saved.

  • Nov 30 '14

    thanks everyone, looks like PERRLA wins it! i really appreciate the positive input.

  • Nov 30 '14

    Quote from mtsteelhorse
    PERRLA, and to the person who finds using technology laughable...good luck! I would rather spend my time in graduate school learning the material vs. counting spaces and setting up margins. $30 when I purchased it. I used the APA manual and OWL Purdue A LOT as well. For basic formatting PERRLA is a lifesaver!

    I'm with you. I'll focus on content and let PERRLA make sure it's presented properly.

  • Apr 23 '14

    Really not that big of a deal. I'm at a community clinic and the medical director handles that sort of thing routinely. Involuntary hold authority is also not that big of a deal. I've been seeing people in hospital emergency rooms, and on medical floors for the last year to assess and place people on holds for over a year. I'm not sure what you mean by extended periods of time. A goal of outpatient care is to avoid inpatient care. We like to use the term adherence rather than compliance by the way....and adherence is more likely when you develop a therapeutic alliance with your patient (client) which is more likely to be established when understanding people from the holistic perspective that nursing teaches....

  • Apr 20 '14

    I passed! This is the best feeling in the world!
    I just took the ANCC exam for Psych NP and here are my thoughts on how to pass this test. I would like to reiterate that this information is from MY experience and may not be reflective of others who have taken and passed this exam.

    I studied for 8 weeks using the Fitzgerald Review. I continued to work full time (3-12hr shifts). In hindsight 4-6weeks is probably good enough and I was scheduled to take my exam at the 6 week mark but then I got nervous and rescheduled.

    Review Materials
    I purchased the Fitzgerald Review, the ANCC Psych NP book, the ANCC Psych NP practice questions, the ANCC test taking skills, and the questions. All of them helped in different ways but ALL of them are not necessary to pass.

    • The Fitzgerald Review was a great overview of the is through and detailed
    • The ANCC Psych NP book is the nuts and bolts of the psychiatric nursing.
    • The ANCC Psych NP practice questions. These questions are expensive but worth it. This exam is more of a reflection of test taking skills than material. In other words the test questions aren't hard but you have to apply the knowledge and pick the best right answer.The ANCC website has free practice questions and if you can't afford the $109, do the practice least 2 of my tests came from the free practice questions.
    • ANCC test taking skills $30. So basic. So worth it. There are 200 questions, you are bound to lose concentration/focus...this overview refreshes your memory on how to answer questions, what to do if you lose concentration, what do to if you are stuck between two questions, etc. Is this information a game changer? No, it's information that has already been out there and may be in some review books but as I was taking the test I could hear the narrators voice in my head when trying to decide between 2 answer choices.
    • The questions are nothing like the exam but it will help you go over topics more obscure topics like ethics, communication, negligence, etc. I ended up buying the 10 pack of questions...really you only need about 3-5 after test 6 the questions just got sloppy and unrealistic.

    If I had to pick all over and I was short on cash, I would pick the ANCC Psych NP book for a review and the questions. I would also see if my college library has the Kaplan and Sadock Comprehensive Review, Deja Review Psychiatry, Case Files Psychiatry for practice questions. The questions from these books are unlike the questions on the exam but if you can answer them you know the material.

    Setting up a Study Program
    Decide each week what you are going to go over and put it in your calendar as an "event" so a reminder pops up on your phone. Review a new topic or two for a few days then rehearse/review then go on to a new topic. If you are feeling overwhelmed about how you are going to remember everything... check out Remember everything you want and manage the rest by Helmut Sachs. This book is excellent in teaching you how to think about material so you can recall it whenever you need it.

    Actual Test
    This is a test of your applied knowledge. A lot of short scenarios where you have to know the information about medications for disorders, medication interactions (think inducers of CYP450), ethics, therapeutic communication (lots of questions on this) also as jamonit '13 stated in their post topics included "cohort observational studies, beneficence, sensitivity/specificity, Prochaska's, independent variables, and ethics/cultural questions." You have to know some basics of other conditions like thyroid disease, elevated lab values for a cardiac condition or autoimmune disease (think common diseases occur commonly). The test will ask you questions less like "A person comes into your office and hasn't sleep in three days, has a lot of energy, and has just spend $10K on antique postage stamps does this person has bipolar 1, bipolar 2, cyclothymia, dysthymia". Go to the ANCC website for practice questions...they are the real deal.

    In hindsight I could have taken this test at the 4 week mark because it really was more about applied knowledge. But I walked in very confident that I had done/reviewed everything I could and that was half of the mental battle.

    Mental Health While Studying/Taking the Exam
    When I first started studying I thought, "man how am I going to remember all of this information" but week by week I was retaining the information. As my confidence grew so did my belief that I could pass this exam. I never held on to thoughts that I wouldn't pass..sure those thoughts crept up but I didn't entertain them. I'm also a big advocate of meditation/visualization; everyday I would meditate to reduce anxiety and to set my mind up to visualize a positive outcome. If you have never tried meditation, Oprah has a great FREE 21 day meditation experience with Deepak Chopra..its for beginners and it is great...go to her website. Also "Tapping" is a great way to alleviate stress...for more info on Tapping go to youtube or look up the Tapping Solution on

    Remember you can do this!! I hope this information helps.... I scoured this site looking for a concise understanding of what this test would be like and I found a few posts scattered here and there so I wanted to post this more comprehensive post for all of the upcoming grads! Good Luck!

  • Apr 12 '14

    Quote from TheOldGuy
    If you're really interested.....

    Psych nursing is not well respected in the nursing world (I am not saying this to insult people but this is what I've seen). Just like many cultures, there is something of a hierarchy and the most respected tend to be ED/ICU nurses. SNF nurses tend to be at the bottom and Psych nurses are just a bit above them. Again, I am not trying to be disrespectful. My RN experience includes SNF, Home Health, Tele, ED, ICU - and psych. Each area has its own challenges. RN compensation kinda follows - worst paid tends to be SNF and psych.

    Work your tail off in the BSN program - learn as much as you can. On graduation, get some experience working in a medical unit so you understand medical issues. Most psych patients have significant medical co-morbidities and it is important to understand them, the meds they will take for them and the side effects associated with those meds. Many people who have only had nursing experience in psych nursing don't really have solid medical backgrounds and it hurts them. Many psychiatrists don't either by the way! I worked in tele, ER and ICU and it really helped. Psych patients are often pretty good at faking symptoms, its important to know what those signs and symptoms are to rule out real vs faked problems. Coordinating with the pt's PCPs is a lot easier if you speak the language. The psychiatrists that I work with often come to me with medical questions and it helps establish credibility.

    Find an NP program that has more coursework in the "hard stuff". I recommend the University of North Dakota even though the program is about 15 units more than most MSNs. You will take twice as much patho, 3 times as much pharmacology there. Go to grad school while you are working as a nurse. Again, try to work in a medical unit. You will learn and understand advanced pathophysiology, advanced assessment and pharmacology a whole lot better if you have chances to practice everyday. Your ability to read and understand labs and their real life significance will improve greatly. Becoming familiar with those meds and interactions takes time.

    A typical day for me means seeing anywhere from 8-15 pts. These might be a combination of new patients requiring complete workups, "quick" med checks and annuals. I review lab work and respond to the zillions of little problems eg insurance company issues.

    Compensation is ok - but not what it should be. Expect to see roughly 1/2 of what an MD makes. This is not fair or right and I expect it to improve, but that is what I've seen. The market is good and I think it will be for some time.

    I love working as a psych NP. It is a real rush to come up with the right "cocktail" that really makes a difference for someone who has been seeing psychiatrists for 25 yrs with little success. At the same time, prepare yourself for patients that will successfully commit suicide despite your very best efforts...

    Hope this helps!
    I agree with everything he said, besides the compensation part. I think this has to do a lot with locale. In my area there are hardly and PMHNP's and the ones that do practice in outpatient settings as well as hospitals are raking 80% of what the Psychiatrists are making.

  • Apr 8 '14

    Quote from mtsteelhorse
    Interesting to read this right now as I'm struggling with whether or not to commit to a PMHNP program. I am terrified of the "3 P's" as they're referred to. I am an older, non-traditional student and not sure if I can handle the stress. How do you get through the class and make the info stick? It's been years since I took basic A&P! One minute I feel so excited to embark on the journey then I think about the stress of these classes and self doubt creeps in.
    Mtsteelhorse, older is definitely a relative term ; however, I will say that I am almost 40 and went into nursing as a second career. I gradated with my BSN in 2008 and started my program last summer. No question, the classes are difficult but if you can organize your time and devote enough of it to studying, you should be successful. I have not taken assessment yet (summer) but in my program, I think advanced patho and pharm are known as more challenging. Without knowing more about your exact situation I say go for it.

  • Apr 8 '14

    Quote from mtsteelhorse
    Interesting to read this right now as I'm struggling with whether or not to commit to a PMHNP program. I am terrified of the "3 P's" as they're referred to. I am an older, non-traditional student and not sure if I can handle the stress. How do you get through the class and make the info stick? It's been years since I took basic A&P! One minute I feel so excited to embark on the journey then I think about the stress of these classes and self doubt creeps in.
    You can't and won't remember it all. Like one doctor tells me, "You learn on the job. The rest becomes **** that's just nice to know."

  • Mar 30 '14

    Thanks for that resilientnurse! Bookmarking this to read for when I graduate

  • Mar 30 '14

    Educational delivery methods will change as technology changes. For example I bet you don't use a Walkman anymore...or even know what it is. Not too many years ago all grades used to be taught in a 1 room classroom. Do this: pick a drug, say Wellbutrin, and just spend a few hours on youtube listening to videos about the drug. Sit there in your PJ,s with a bowl of popcorn and a Coke and I'll bet you'll know more about it than what you will learn in a couple hours in class. Pick a physical exam video from a well-known medical school, one that makes videos for their medical students, and watch it any time of the day or night before going to class. The person on the video probably has more experience doing physicals than your instructor and you can now do a physical just like an expert. In fact, if you get a partner, you can do an exam on them while you follow along on the video. A couple times and you'll have it done perfectly. Do these activities in the time you normally would have been driving to class and finding a parking space.

  • Mar 28 '14

    Elkpark, I understand what PMHNP's general roles are and their various responsibilities. After several months of being unable to find an available PMHNP to shadow, I was recommended this site to get information from those currently working in various nursing specialties. If you have any information pertaining to my question I appreciate the help, if not, then please find another thread to badger.

  • Mar 28 '14

    It's really not that mysterious. One can have a basic understanding of a type of job from educational program descriptions, reading message boards, and other internet research. However...this is not the same as hearing what the real world day-to-day is like from the "horses mouth". Asking for real world insight and perspective from those currently in the role in no way means the individual has no idea what they do.

    I'm surprised at the number of people on this board who make unfair assumptions and passive-aggressively try and shame folks who are just looking for information.

  • May 28 '13

    [QUOTE=EmJeanRN;7351640]That is great. I applied for a Camp Nurse job in Maine and I know my BSN played a major part in the money offered. It is a generous offer for a camp nurse for 4 weeks. More than I make in my current job. I have decided to ask for a raise at work now that I have my BSN.[/QU

    Coming to Maine EmJean? It's a great place to be in the summer! Only way my life has changed post-BSN is I got accepted into a FNP program.