What Is Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in 2023

What Is Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in 2023

Careers in the medical field are very lucrative. Depending on the profession you pursue, you can work in various organizations, including government and non-governmental agencies. Nursing, in particular, is a vast and varied profession that touches a lot of other areas. If you’re interested in nursing, one of the fields you can major in is psychology. Psychology is a discipline that deals with psychiatric mental health. There are many forms of psychology studies and career paths, including forensic psychology and clinical psychology.


Many people think that the only way to get into the psychiatric health field is to get a degree in psychology or go to medical school and a specialist in psychiatry. But there is another option: a psychiatric nurse practitioner. In some cases, a psychiatric nurse practitioner gives treatment to patients by following instructions from the psychiatrist. In others, they are licensed to practice independently. Anyone with the right qualifications can be a psychiatric nurse practitioner, including those in the nursing profession who wish to diversify their skill sets.


Psychiatric nursing is a very technical field despite its high rewards. You need to consider various factors before pursuing it as a career. One of these factors is your perception of the nursing profession. To get more insight into the requirements, roles, and benefits of a psychiatric nurse practitioner, we shall explore the following:


  1. What to expect from a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner
  2. Skills and qualifications required for a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner
  3. Jobs for psychiatric nurse practitioners
  4. Salary and benefits for psychiatric nurse practitioners

What to Expect from A Career As A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Understanding what is expected of you before starting on a career path is essential. It helps you plan for the workload involved during studies and while working after school. Psychiatric nursing is one of the careers that require significant preparation.


Before heading down this career path, learn about the potential employers in your region. In some cases, you might have to study and sit for additional exams to be certified to practice in states that have different regulations.


According to various job statistic platforms, the demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners is expected to rise steadily over the next several years. The increasing population and changes in lifestyles across the world are expected to lead to an increased demand for mental health care providers. One of the critical players in the provision of psychiatric care is psychiatric nurse practitioners. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase in psychiatric nurse practitioners by an average of 5% every year up to 2028. Various organizations employ psychiatric nurse practitioners. These include government agencies and the military. In the military, psychiatric nurse practitioners take care of the mental health of military officers.


You get many benefits by pursuing a career in psychiatric nursing. Some of these apply to you as an individual and some to your career life. How much you benefit, though, is determined by the institutions you enroll in to study. Some institutions are well equipped and offer proper training. These institutions place you in a better position to compete for opportunities in the job market. Some of the personal benefits include:


  • Improved Financial Status

One of the main things you might consider when enrolling in a psychiatric nurse practitioner program is the financial returns and benefits. The growing demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners guarantees fast employment after school, implying that you won’t have to wait for long before you start earning. Early employment results in higher financial benefits since you practice for more years.

  • Respect Among Peers

Psychiatric nurse practitioners play an important role in the well-being of communities. Being in a position to influence decisions that might mentally affect people earns you respect. Additionally, you have an opportunity to directly serve community members. For example, being a military psychiatric nurse practitioner allows you to contribute to national security by keeping the mental health of military officers in check.

  • Personal Satisfaction

Pursuing careers in the medical field out of passion is one of the best decisions you can make. Being passionate about psychiatric nursing makes your work life enjoyable. If you are passionate about mental health and caring for patients with mental health issues, this career will give you even more satisfaction. You will get the skills you need to practice both as a professional and an individual. Health-related careers allow you to practice even after retirement. Therefore, you will be doing what you love for as long as you can.


As a profession, psychiatric nursing has many benefits to your career. Some career benefits you only get after a long period of working but others manifest as soon as you complete your studies. The benefits of pursuing psychiatric nursing depend on your employer. Most employers provide a friendly environment for you to grow, while others might present challenges. Here are some career benefits you get from being a psychiatric nurse practitioner:


  • Many Employment Opportunities

As mentioned, psychiatric nursing is one of the most in-demand professions in the medical field. If you are an active nursing professional, studying psychiatric nursing improves your skillset and broadens your chances of being employed or retained by your current employee. Additionally, psychiatric nurse practitioners can work in various organizations in the public and private sectors. For instance, you can work for the government to help determine the impact of certain policies on the mental health of citizens. Psychiatric nursing is an internationally recognized profession, implying that you can work in different countries after completing your studies.

  • Diverse Skills

Psychiatric nurse practitioners acquire many skills during training. As a psychiatric nursing practitioner, you learn how to handle patients and identify symptoms of mental disorders. The skills you get at school and during practice are beneficial, even after retirement. You can break from employment to start your own psychiatric clinic with the skills. Breaking from employment gives you a chance to work for yourself, increasing your earnings and giving your freedom.


There are many things to expect from a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Understanding what awaits you in the professional field prepares you psychologically and allows you to determine what field to major in as there are several career opportunities for psychiatric nursing practitioners. For instance, you can specialize in taking care of mentally ill people in a home or work in the military. Some of the things to expect include:


  • Long Working Hours

As a psychiatric nursing practitioner, your main role is dealing with people and their mental health status. It is common for professionals in the medical field to work long hours, especially when there are many patients to be attended to at the same time. As a psychiatric nurse, you have to handle patients according to the psychiatrist’s instructions. If you work in a home for mentally challenged individuals, you might experience days when your patients need more care than usual. If you work in the military, you might work for long hours at times when military officers report back from missions. Many military officers suffer traumatic disorders as a result of deployment and need psychiatric care.

  • Strict Training Programs

Psychiatric nursing is a technical field, and you must undergo adequate training to be a registered nurse. Psychiatric nursing programs involve subjects that cut across the entire medical field. You will have to learn how the human body responds when subjected to certain mental conditions. Professional organizations require you to meet a certain threshold in academics to be licensed. To improve the graduation rate and deliver skilled professionals, training institutions might require you to achieve certain grades before moving to the next level. Such conditions ensure those advancing to the final stages for certification as psychiatric nursing practitioners have the skills and knowledge to deliver excellent service.

  • Emotional Moments

Psychiatric nursing involves dealing with people’s emotions and state of mind. Part of the processes you might witness involve people opening up. These stories could trigger your own emotions as well as those of the patient, but your training program will prepare you for such occasions. As a psychiatric nursing practitioner, you train to prevent your emotions from influencing how you judge patients and their situations. You also learn how to tell whether a patient is giving truthful information or not.

Skills and Qualifications Required for A Career as A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Being a psychiatric nurse practitioner is more than just academic excellence. When getting into this career, there are certain skills you must have to qualify and survive in the job market. Meeting the academic qualifications of your degree program indicates that you understand certain concepts that are useful for practice. 


To pursue psychiatric nursing straight after high school, there are certain academic thresholds you must reach. To enter this profession, you must become a registered nurse and attend a nursing program at some point, but there are degrees that you can consider, including:


    • Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology– Psychology is the foundation of psychiatric nursing. To be a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must understand the factors that affect patients with mental health issues. These concepts are covered extensively in psychology degree programs. Having a degree in psychology makes it easier for you to transition to being a registered psychiatric nurse, but you do also need to attend nursing school to get a license and be certified to practice.
    • Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing–  Nursing is one of the primary disciplines in the medical field. Nurses take care of patients and administer medication according to doctors’ instructions. All nurses receive the same bachelor’s degree, but once they begin to practice, some specialize in pediatric care while others specialize in taking care of critical patients. Before you can become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing.


  • Master’s Degree in Nursing– A master’s degree is the next step to becoming an advanced practice nurse. There are many nursing specialties to choose from, including nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, and nurse midwife. Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you can apply for a master’s degree program, which is where you can choose a program to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. This degree prepares you for independent practice working with various patient populations. As an advanced practice registered nurse, you can prescribe medication and provide primary care.



Having the above degrees and undergoing the required training is not all you need to be a psychiatric nursing practitioner. You must also pass the examination developed by the professional body to get a license that legally allows you to practice. Where you live and the extent of your practice depend on the nature of the certificate you apply for. Regulations for operation as a psychiatric nurse practitioner vary from one state to another, so a certificate issued in one state might not be valid in another one. If you wish to practice beyond your state, look into the requirements. In some cases, your license may be more than enough to meet the qualifications. Other times, you might have to sit for an additional licensing exam.


Advancing your studies after being licensed as a psychiatric nurse practitioner is very important for your career. It keeps you updated with modern skills and technology in the changing field of mental health. Being up-to-date keeps you relevant, hence your employers are likely to value you and want to keep you as a part of the team. The skills you get at advanced educational levels, such as a master’s degree and Ph.D., are essential for your career growth. In most cases, you get management skills that make it easy for you to be promoted to higher positions. You become a resource person in the psychiatric nursing profession by advancing your education to the Ph.D. level. You can work in the administrative space to help in the policymaking for the government and private companies. Psychology skills and work experience allow you to create policies that positively affect practitioners and patients.


Several factors guarantee your success in the psychiatric nursing profession. One of these is the skill set you have after training. Most companies look for specific skills in employees before bringing them on board. You need such skills to secure employment and sustain yourself in the job market. They include:


  • Analytical and Cognitive Skills

The main role of a psychiatric nurse practitioner is to take care of psychiatric patients. This includes monitoring their progress and reporting to the psychiatrist for treatment. To execute these roles, you must have proper cognitive skills that allow you to identify symptoms of psychological complications in patients under your care. Analytical skills allow you to make the right decisions from observed scenarios. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must know what to do in situations where patients need urgent care.

  • Problem-Solving Skills

Part of the duties of a psychiatric nurse practitioner is to find solutions to problems that might affect the mental health of patients. Most psychological problems require tangible solutions to restore the mental health of a patient. Therefore, you must be able to provide accurate solutions to problems that a patient is facing. Problem-solving skills require you to be up to date with trends in the modern world. Currently, many psychological problems affecting people are related to the internet. You must be conversant with how your patients use the internet to provide viable solutions. Other areas where you need problem-solving skills is when offering advice to patients having trouble in social life areas such as relationships.

  • Patience

Patience is more of a quality than a skill, but you must have it to survive in mental health nursing. Dealing with patients with psychiatric disorders is challenging. Mental conditions take longer to fade away. You might have to deal with a patient for months or even weeks, which is usually the case with patients suffering from post-traumatic disorders. You have to be patient to understand that they need therapy. Most of these patients don’t exactly know what they suffer from, despite being aware that they need psychiatric assistance. Therefore, you have to listen and observe their behavior to come up with a conclusive diagnosis.


Some several other skills and qualities are essential for mental health nursing. Most of these skills are perfected over time as you gain work experience. It is normal to find varying prowess in certain skills among psychiatric nurse practitioners.  Associate degree programs can form the foundation for nursing, but to gain the proper skills to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner, advanced degrees are needed to instill these skills.


Having proper knowledge of the population you serve is also important as a mental health nurse practitioner. It helps you understand the psychological challenges that people are likely to face in such an environment. For instance, working in an environment interacting with couples prepares you to handle psychological problems related to marriage and family relationships. Understanding your targeted demographic as a psychological nurse practitioner helps you predict the likelihood of certain mental complications. With this information, you can conduct research and develop better treatments.

Jobs for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners

There are many places where you can work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner after nursing school. Where you work depends on your specialization in the field as certain concepts vary from one another, including treatment procedures. Some of the common workplaces for psychiatric nurse practitioners are:


  • Assisted-Living Facilities- Assisted living facilities are places that look after individuals with mental or physical disorders. These include homes for older adults. Some of the main requirements to work in an assisted-living facility are tolerance and the ability to socialize. Most of the individuals in these homes require being told something repeatedly to understand. To work in these facilities, you might have to specialize in geriatric psychiatry. This specialization focuses on mental conditions in older adults, including depression and dementia, among others.
  • Correctional Facilities- Correctional facilities such as prisons and rehabilitation centers are some of the institutions that require mental health services Individuals in these facilities are usually traumatized or battle mental conditions such as depression. A significant number of inmates suffer from substance abuse, which triggers withdrawal effects that affect their mental state. To work in correctional facilities, you might have to specialize in psychosomatic medicine. This specialization focuses on the relationship between physical and mental illness. It allows you to evaluate patients that might suffer physically due to withdrawal effects.
  • Schools- The mental health of students and teachers affects their overall performance. The government and private schools employ psychiatric nurse practitioners to help keep the mental health of students and teachers in check. This implies that students with behavioral health issues can attend school programs and become productive individuals in the future. Most psychiatric nurse practitioners that work in schools major in school psychology. School psychology prepares you to deal with psychiatric challenges associated with learning institutions.


Both psychiatrists and psychiatric nursing practitioners play a big role in a psychiatric facility. However, psychiatrists require more qualifications to practice. Psychiatric nurse practitioners usually operate under instructions from the psychiatric.

Salary and Benefits for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners

There are many benefits associated with a nursing career. Psychiatric nursing practitioners are not exempt from these benefits. Some of these benefits are standardized by the government, while others depend on the institution you practice in. For instance, psychiatric nurse practitioners enjoy retirement benefits after their years of service. However, how much they earn in salaries depends on the institution they work for and the level at which they practice. Practitioners in managerial positions earn more than those in other areas of the same field.


Working for a psychiatric facility is good for your career. It exposes you to new job opportunities and allows you to easily climb up the ranks. However, starting your own business has more benefits. To be a successful independent psychiatric nursing practitioner, you must have several years of work experience. Experienced professionals more easily win the trust and confidence of patients. Start by taking care of patients as an individual, and later on, employ more psychiatric nurses if you get more clients than you can handle on your own. The demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners grows every year, implying that you can easily grow your business as an independent family nurse practitioner.


Job descriptions for psychiatric nurse practitioners vary from one institution to another. Some institutions can employ you to work in conjunction with a nurse midwife. In such cases, your role will involve taking care of the patient’s mental health status before, during, and after childbirth. Many people suffer from postnatal stress disorders and need help for the safety of the child and themselves. Another interesting job for a psychiatric nurse practitioner is in the military. A psych NP in the military ensures the mental state of military officers is in check. To work in the military, you might have to undergo military training. The training conditions you to endure harsh conditions if sent to work with officers on deployment. However, military training might not be necessary if you work in assisted-living facilities for veterans.


To secure jobs as a psychiatric NP, you must be a registered nurse. All health care providers are registered by professional bodies, and this is a condition of licensure in most states. Licensing bodies control the quality of services offered to patients across the country and define the scope of practice. 


Psychiatric nursing is a rewarding profession, but it can be difficult to cope with at times. You might need psychiatric services yourself in your years of practice. Handling psychiatric patients can be mentally overwhelming, and taking care of yourself is the only way to continue working and helping your patients.

In Summary

Pursuing a career as a psychiatric mental health nurse is one of the greatest career decisions you can make. However, you should pay close attention to factors that could affect your future career life. Financial considerations are essential when selecting the training program to enroll in. Your financial status determines how comfortable your time in school will be, both in paying your tuition and covering your costs of living. Being financially strained affects your productivity in school and at the workplace. Financial discipline plays an essential in your career development as well. Managing your finances well allows you to plan for the future if you venture into private psychiatric nursing.


Branching into psychiatric nursing is easy when you have a related degree. Degrees in fields such as psychology or nursing allow you to master psychiatric nursing concepts faster. If you intend to practice at higher levels within the field, you have to advance your studies to either a master’s or doctorate.

Degrees in psychiatric nursing are not the only requirement you need to meet to practice. There are several requirements by professional bodies that you must fulfill to be a licensed psychiatric NP. These requirements include obtaining minimum scores in the professional exams you sit for. These exams are an indication of how well you have mastered concepts related to psychiatric nursing.


Networking is very important in securing employment. Interacting with fellow students allows you to learn and understand certain concepts better. Additionally, it helps you identify and explore various opportunities in your area of practice. Interacting with experienced psychiatric nursing practitioners helps you understand the dynamics of the profession. Through such interactions, you create meaningful connections with potential employers and future partners.

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