Need RN experience for Psych NP job post-graduation?

  1. I am considering attending a direct-entry psych-NP program. I do not have RN experience (switching from a different field). I wanted to get some feedback from current psych NPs or psych NP students about whether RN experience is needed to find psych NP work upon graduation. I have heard that in some NP specialties it is hard to find work post graduation if one does not have prior RN experience. I wanted to find out how much of an issue this is in psych NP work. Thanks!
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    About redbullz9

    Joined: Dec '17; Posts: 3; Likes: 5

    9 Comments

  3. by   FullGlass
    Lack of RN experience is generally not an issue for a PMHNP. Browse some of the PMHNP job listings to check on this.
  4. by   Jules A
    From what I hear in the Baltimore/Washington DC metro employers are getting wise to the lack of psych RN experience and inability to reasonably practice independently upon graduation. The medical directors at the two hospitals where I work will not hire NPs who did not work as inpatient psych RN.
  5. by   FullGlass
    Quote from Jules A
    From what I hear in the Baltimore/Washington DC metro employers are getting wise to the lack of psych RN experience and inability to reasonably practice independently upon graduation. The medical directors at the two hospitals where I work will not hire NPs who did not work as inpatient psych RN.
    This probably varies by location. In addition, the psych RN experience would less likely be required for a PMHNP working in an outpatient setting.
  6. by   Jules A
    Quote from FullGlass
    This probably varies by location. In addition, the psych RN experience would less likely be required for a PMHNP working in an outpatient setting.
    I'm sure it does vary by location. Why you think outpatient jobs would be less likely to require actual psych RN experience? Even the well known meat market clinics that could care less who they hire expect employees to start with a full patient load from day one. If I get one more borderline with SUD who is given a Bipolar diagnosis by an inexperienced NP I'm going to scream.
  7. by   umbdude
    Quote from redbullz9
    I am considering attending a direct-entry psych-NP program. I do not have RN experience (switching from a different field). I wanted to get some feedback from current psych NPs or psych NP students about whether RN experience is needed to find psych NP work upon graduation. I have heard that in some NP specialties it is hard to find work post graduation if one does not have prior RN experience. I wanted to find out how much of an issue this is in psych NP work. Thanks!
    Do you have any work experience with this population?

    I think it depends on the location and the individual. If you come from a field like IT or marketing, then becomes a psych NP (assuming that you can even get in), never worked a day as a nurse, would you hire yourself over someone who have worked with these patients?

    My area is competitive and I'm seeing a slight shift in job postings (I'm a psych RN in a PMHNP program, so I look around). Most of the established, decent, facilities are looking for PMHNPs with "NP" experience. Some (such as the organization I work for) specifies that if no NP experience, psych RN experience is considered.

    Currently, I think new grad PMHNPs can still find jobs even without any psych exposure or experience. As more and more people are swarming into psych because they can't find jobs elsewhere (eg, FNPs), that could very possibly change in the near future.
  8. by   redbullz9
    No experience working in nursing, but some pre-med experience working in mental health (e.g. therapeutic companion etc). My previous experience is not medical related.

    I live on the west coast and it seems a lot of the entry level psych NP job ads don't mention anything about needing RN experience. About 20% ask for 1- 2 years of previous NP experience (although those aren't technically pure entry level anymore).

    How do you guys feel about the clinical experience you received during your NP program? I understand it varies on the school you attend. Any advice on what to look for in a program to ensure the clinical experiences are good would be appreciated. I am particularly interested in outpatient practice, although I realize the importance of some exposure/training with inpatient psych before working solely with outpatients. I would prefer to enter some sort of formalized training/residency for psych NPs after graduation, but I hear it's hard to secure those.
  9. by   Oldmahubbard
    I worked for 4 years as an RN in a Community Mental Health Clinic while I was completing my degree. Yes, low pay. But I went home and studied my cases every night, preparing myself for the prescribing role . And when the time came to practice, I was absolutely ready.

    You might be able to get a job with no experience , but will you really be ready to deal with an onslaught of personality disordered, drug abusing malingerers, hoping to get disability who tell you they hear voices? I sincerely doubt it. Because my "clinical hours" most assuredly did not prepare me.

    If you don't mind just handing out benzos, stimulants and antipsychotic to people who have self diagnosed from the Internet, then go ahead.
    Sorry to be negative, but clueless psych prescribers, to include physicians, are my big pet peeve. Because I know what it took not to be clueless.
  10. by   Oldmahubbard
    A job with the State, at a forensic hospital, working with mentally ill inmates might be perfect. Some of the States are in dire need and would take new grads. You wouldn't be totally on your own and you wouldn't have the usual productivity demands. You would get to see plenty of true (and fake) mental illness up front.
    No where near as scary or intense as it seems! I did it for 13 years, and only left for greener pastures.
    After you do this for a couple of years, you can work anywhere with confidence.
  11. by   Workitinurfava
    You should not have a major problem finding a job in a psych setting. I work in a mental institution. These places have a hard time keeping staff. Either they leave for fear of their life or they get attacked and leave. Find a teaching hospital, so you can be trained on the job.
    Last edit by Workitinurfava on Dec 23, '17

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