Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

What Is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are certified advanced practice nurses whose primary function is to take care of the mental health needs of patients. These nurse practitioners take on a wide variety of interdisciplinary responsibilities which include medical and psychiatric diagnosis, performing both physical and mental health assessments, offering psychotherapy and counseling, prescribing psychiatric pharmaceuticals and other kinds of medication, and designing treatment plans for holistic therapy. Today, psychiatric nurse practitioners (PMNHPs) are often able to practice independently and autonomously without oversight. In 27 states, they are able to diagnose and treat patients without any physician involvement, and in 19 states PMNHPs can prescribe medication independently.

What Are Some Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Duties?

  • Assess the mental health of patients
  • Administer psychological tests
  • Diagnose and treat patients with common acute and chronic psychiatric illnesses
  • Prescribe medication (usually in collaboration with a psychiatrist)
  • Monitor patients' progress and response to prescription medication
  • Provide both group and individual psychotherapy
  • Help to promote self-care and healthy lifestyles in patients
  • Care for and provide counsel to patients with psychiatric illnesses
  • Provide psychosocial support and mental health education to patients and their families

Where Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Work?

Psychiatric nurse practitioners care for patients with mental health issues wherever these types of services are rendered. Common workplaces include:

  • Private practice
  • State psychiatric hospitals
  • County health clinics
  • Hospitals

How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

A career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner requires individuals to undergo a blend of RN and APNP education, training, and licensure. After these have been completed, individuals can then go on unimpeded to begin a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Before one begins a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, they must first earn their ADN or BSN degree. After students have earned either of these degrees, they can then apply for RN licensure. Upon gaining full licensure as an RN and then gaining some real-world experience (preferably in a mental health environment), students can enroll in a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) advanced nursing education program. After they have completed one of these degree types, they will need to apply for a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) license.

Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Need an RN Degree?

Psychiatric nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who have earned their master's degree in nursing (MSN) or a doctorate degree in nursing (DNP). In order to reach these post-graduate degree levels, students must first complete their ADN or BSN degrees and become fully certified registered nurses (RNs).

Step 2: Required Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certifications/Credentials

There are several ways one can become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. No matter which pathway a student decides to take, psychiatric nurse practitioners must earn a post-graduate degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Prior to being admitted into either of these degree programs, students should have already gained their ADN or BSNs. Credentialing for the psychiatric mental health nursing field is done via the American Nurse Credentialing Center. There are two certifications that psychiatric nurse practitioners can earn: the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) and the adult psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs, Salary & Employment

Because of the high level of education and extensive training that's required to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, it's a very niche specialty of nursing. It's for this reason that psychiatric nurse practitioners are always in demand.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Problem-solving abilities, empathy and sensitivity, compassion, social awareness and perceptiveness, ability to assess patients, exceptional reasoning and critical thinking skills, ability to maintain a strict set of personal boundaries.
  • Job Outlook - For the foreseeable future, the job outlook for all advanced practice nurses (APRNs) is quite good. It's particularly bright for nurse practitioners. As surveyed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for all nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 31% between 2014 and 2024.

What Is the Average Salary of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

According to PayScale, psychiatric nurse practitioners make an average annual salary of approximately $101,135. The vast majority of individuals employed in the field will receive benefit packages which include comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and prescription, as well as malpractice insurance. Most nurse practitioners also receive paid vacation time each year. This, however, will depend on the employer. Some employers may also contribute to retirement plans.

How Much Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Make per Year?

  • $81,000 – $135,000 annually

How Much Do Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Make per Hour?

  • $59.75 average hourly wage

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Resources