psych nurse practitioner

Specialties Addictions


So, this post is all based off of reading a book called "When the Servant becomes the Master." It is a book about addiction by a doctor certified in both addiction and family medicine. It made me realize how complex both the behavioral and medicinal treatments for addiction are and how complex of a disease addiction is. I am really interested in helping those with addiction as a psych np, but I'm afraid, simply by reading this book, that being an np I wouldn't be knowledgeable to either practice on my own or really be able to create that much of a change. In the field of addiction, do you think that an np would be able to grasp the disease, both diagnosing and prescribing, enough to treat those with severe addiction in the same capacity as a doctor? I know that some states allow independence, but I don't want to be so overly confident and excited about having independence that I make the wrong, life-altering decision for a patient. For instance, many medications for addiction to opiates, like methadone, can cause cns depression and can lead to death if misued. I'd be very nervous giving this drug to an addict. Also, do psych nps working under doctors really get to help the patient or is it the doctor simply telling the np what to do for every step of the treatment? Any feedback, especially based in research, would be appreciated.

Funny you should mention that book. As a newly licensed RN, and a recovered substance abuser, I am fortunate to have gotten hired by the facility where Dr. "P" is CMO.

I will be working in the detox unit with a nurse that has been there for about 20 years, thus I will be responsible for administering those medications, under his direction. I am, needless to say, nervous and excited.

After I have settled in to this new position, my intention is to continue my education into advanced practice. My research, to date, has indicated that addiction nursing is a field that will offer continuously expanding oppotunities for nurse practitioners.

I am a giddy newby, as of this posting, but will update in this thread as I gain more insight.

Specializes in Psychiatry, Mental Health.

Becoming a PMHNP is just the beginning of the road. Ongoing professional development can (and should, in my opinon) include further study and training in a subspecialty, if you are planning to practice in one. So the answer to your question is "no". A new PMHNP is not best equipped to deal with addiction issues, but if you're interested in the field you can certainly get the further education and training required.

By the way, simply being an MD is not enough, either. A good friend of mine is a double-boarded psychiatrist who has been practicing for 30 years. He has a long list of academic affiliations, as well as serving as chief of medical services in a large, multi-campus psychiatric facility. In a recent conversation he told me about what he is doing to get more training and education in the latest developments and standards of practice in addiction medicine because he feels that there are lacunae in his skills.

If addiction treatment is where your heart is, pursue it! Look for and investigate training opportunities beyond your NP licensure. Good luck to you! :)

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