As a psychiatric mental health nurse, your job will entail working with patients who are dealing with medical conditions such as depressing, schizophrenia, paranoia, psychosis, panic disorder, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, mental retardation, and other types of mental illness. As a nurse working with these patients, you could perform tasks such as counseling patients, tracking patient progress, working with doctors to develop a treatment plan, assisting patients with hygiene tasks, and administering medications. Your specific tasks will depend on the facility where you work. You could work with the same patients on a daily basis in a long-term care facility, for example, or you could treat patients in an outpatient care facility or even provide mental health screening services or education.
Salary and Career Options
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association reports that psychiatric mental health nurses make around $40,000 annually as registered nurses. You can make more money by becoming an advanced practice nurse in the field of mental health, and location is also a major factor when it comes to salary expectations. Additionally, you can chose to specialize in one area of mental health, such as geriatrics or a specific kind of mental disease.
You can start working as a psychiatric mental health nurse as an LPN, but as this education doesn’t allow for much specialization, many nurses interested in this field opt to become RNs through an LPN-to-RN or regular RN degree program, which allows you to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. You can also consider earning a master’s degree in this field, and after you’ve gained experience as mental health nurse, you can apply for certifications in this field.
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