Psychiatric / Mental Health NP, pharmacology

  1. Hi,
    I have been an RN (working acute care) for 5 years, and I have my BSN. I have always wanted to be a psychiatrist, but I am not sure I'm in for the long haul (so much school before I'd finally be able to practice psych, if I went the MD route). The main reason I'd prefer to do psychiatry vs. psychology/social work is because I am very interested in pharmacology, and I would want to be able to diagnose patients with mental disorders, plus prescribe / help patients maintain medication regimens.

    Therefore, I was really excited when I recently read about PMHNP (psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners). Apparently, this NP specialty has just been added within the past couple of years, though, so I don't know if it is widely accepted. I wondered if anyone knew anything about this field, or also if PAs can specialize in psych. Has anyone seen any psych specialized mid-level practitioners floating around? If so, do they have autonomy, when it comes to prescriptions, dx, etc. (although I'm sure this depends on the state...anyone know about CA?)? What about private practice? Anyone think psych NP/PA private practice will catch on, if it doesn't already exist?

    Thanks in advance for opinions/advice!
  2. Visit KLeigh profile page

    About KLeigh

    Joined: May '06; Posts: 22; Likes: 10
    RN, BSN
    Specialty: 8 year(s) of experience in Oncology, Apheresis, Clinical Research


  3. by   Coffeegirly
    PMHNPs have been around and prescribing for years. Depending on the state, they can practice on their own. In my state they do, in other states they can't. Hopefully the advanced practice nurses in those states are working diligently to change the legislation there.

    Becoming a PMHNP is an excellent route to go.... they've been around for years, they assess, diagnose, treat and prescribe psychiatric disorders.
    I'd say go for it. They aren't new.
  4. by   KLeigh
    Thanks Coffeegirly, that's great to hear! I also have one more question, if you don't mind: Is it a good idea to go for just the PMHNP, or would that limit me in what I could do? For example, would it be better to try to do FNP and PMHNP, if I wanted to treat pediatric or adolescent psych patients, or does the PMHNP program prepare you for all ages of psych health? Thanks for your help.
  5. by   sirI
    Hello, KLeigh,

    I am not PMHNP. But, I can relate to an NP specialty being to narrow a focus. I started out OB/GYN NP and that was too narrow in and of itself. I did secure the FNP later and that along with the OB/GYN NP was a very marketable move for me.

    Just something to consider should you want to practice something other than psych/mental health. I thought OB/GYN would be what I wanted to do forever and realized after a few years that it just wasn't so.
  6. by   HM2VikingRN
    I know in MN that we have NP's working psych in our forensic hospital.....

    St Scholastica in Duluth MN has a psychiatric NP program.
  7. by   larspat
    Hi there,
    just read your message and was wondering. Do you know anything about the online program at the U of MN? also, can psych NPs have their own practice in MN? and what forensic hospital in MN uses NPs? thanks for your response.