Is there a such thing as a psychiatric nurse assistant or technician?

  1. Hello great nurses of the world. I would like to know if there is such a job as a psychiatric technician or a psych nurse's assistant? I am currently enrolled in a business school in Upstate New York; an associate's degree program of medical assisting. I would like to eventually become an RN or a psychologist, but I'm starting here. Could I break into the field as a licensed medical assistant? Thanks for your help!

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    About ericjames85

    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 4
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  3. by   MoJoeRN,C
    Hi Eric,
    In the same amount of time you are getting your assoc. degree in business, you could get your assoc. degree in nursing and become an RN. Then you could go to work in a psychiatric facility and pursue psychiatric nursing. With experience you can take the American Nurses Credentialing Centers test and become board certified as a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse which a lot of psychiatric facilities value in their nursing staff. Good luck on your career choice.
  4. by   sanakruz
    In CA they have psych techs- takes as long in school as an LVN/LPN, but the scpoe of practice is more limited-
    Joe's right... go for an ADN
  5. by   jeannet83
    Eric, in my facility in NY state, you could be a psych tech while going to school part-time for your BSN and get your tuition paid for part-time course work.

    I agree with the other folks, if you want nursing, best to finish this semester and switch to a nursing program. Or if you are not sure, check with your area hospitals and see if they have openings for psych assistants or psych techs to get some hands-on experience.

    Good luck with your endeavors! Jeanne
  6. by   Orca
    I worked in a facility in Oklahoma that used psych techs. They had to have at least 30 semester hours of study in a social science. There was not a formal state licensing process, just a hospital requirement for employment.
  7. by   Overdog
    Sanacruz is right about California. Psych Techs. They are a nursing category parallel to Licensed Vocational Nurses (California's term for LPN). They are licensed by the same board and take the same amount of hours (1530 minimum) of study & clinical to take the licensing exam.

    However, Psych Techs focus a lot more on mental illness and developmental disabilities, so they don't study peds, ob-gyn, peds and as much med-surg as LVNs. Full info is on our website at

    There are about 14,000 Calif. Psych Techs who have active licenses. Calif is one of only four states that license Psych Techs, the others being Colorado, Kansas and Arkansas. I'll be glad to answer any questions about our folks.
  8. by   Heath82371
    I currently work on an inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit. We are the state psychiatric hospital for kids 5-17. I have worked in many psychiatric hospitals/units. To answer your question yes, you can work as a tech....where I work they are called Behavioral Healthcare another hospital I worked in they were called Mental Health another Psychiatric get the picture. Most have a high school diploma and some health care, military, or law enforcement experience..... but it isn't always required. Some places I have worked will accept 30 hours of college credit if you don't have applicable work experience. I suggest you call and speak to a recruiter in HR or a nurse supervisor..... tell them what you're interested in and determine what your options are.
    Last edit by Heath82371 on Nov 6, '03
  9. by   NurseBenz
    Where I work (special purpose school) they are called mental health workers, about 75% have a bachelors degree in some type of social service or psychology the rest are still in college.
  10. by   fawnsternurse
    If you are in Rochester, Ny go directly to Strong Memorial. They will pay for you to go to school while you are working as a Psch Tech. If that doesnt work there is always St. Mary's hospital on Genesse which also hires Psychiatric Technicians as well as Rochester Memorial.
    Good Luck!
  11. by   eddy
    Isn't that what an LMHT is in Kansas? (Lic'd Mental Health Tech)

    They are basically an LPN for psych facilities it seems to me, though I have worked with very few of them.
  12. by   laurenkst
    We have two types of nursing assistants at the facility that I now am a Nurse Educator/Trainer. There are Certified Nursing Assistants that now work at a Psychiatric Hospital and take care of mentally ill patients with medical problems that they have developed and the geriatric mentally ill. There are also nursing assistants who work on the "active side" they work with the
    patient population which has mental illnesses. You could work as
    a nursing assistant while pursuing your Nursing Degree and after 6 months help with the expenses of your education or you could go on to pursue your degree in Psychology/Psychiatry. The world is open to you. Explore all the fields you wish. Try a job working with the mentally ill. They are a very challenging population to work with and they require more skills than you'd ever imagine, but it is so rewarding to see a patient get better and know that you're part of the reason that they did. It is an occupation that requires alot of you, but it is really worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!--Lauren