Being a nurse is a satisfying career. There are many areas that you can choose to specialize in as a nurse. A psychiatric nurse will allow you to work in the field of psychiatry by assisting doctors and helping patients. Mental illness knows no bias to race, age, or gender. These specialized nurses help patients live full lives.
As a psychiatric nurse, you will be responsible for assisting in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychiatric disorders. To start a career as a mental health nurse, one must first get an education in the field of nursing. You must have a Registered Nurse (RN) degree or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification before moving in to the field of psychiatry.
To obtain an LPN certification, you must first complete training at either a community college or technical school. This training takes approximately one year to complete. Each school and state is different on the number of credit hours and classes a student must take to complete their certification. Once the certification is complete, the student must then sit for the licensing test. Once the license is issued, as long as the required number of continuing education hours are completed and paperwork remains current, testing is not required again.
For a RN, the student must complete either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing at an accredited college or university. As with the LPN certification, the number of credit hours and college course that must be completed vary from state to state and college to college. To complete a RN degree can take from two to five years depending on the program and level of education that is completed. Once the degree is obtained, the RN student must sit for the licensing test. As with the LPN license, once it is granted unless revoked, continuing education credits, or paperwork is not maintained the test is not required again.
Classes for a nursing degree include: anatomy, physiology, developing family and child, microbiology, immunology, health and wellness, technology of nursing, nurse management, and restorative health related to multi-system failures. Each program also offers classes on mental health care. Students interested in mental health can take electives that will help them pursue their field prior to graduation.
In addition to having a nursing degree and active nursing license, a psychiatric nurse must have additional training. However, psychiatric nurses must complete a one-year residency to focus their skills. If they want to specialize further in children or adolescents, adults, or even become a nurse practitioner additional clinical experience is required.
If you choose to become a nurse practitioner, you must be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This requires a second round of tests and additional licensing as a board certified psychiatric nurse.
All psychiatric nurses are required to take continuing education classes throughout the year. Each state varies on how many credit hours you must complete with in the calendar year. You can obtain these hours by going to seminars or taking approved online classes. These classes must be in some field of psychology or psychiatric nursing for them to count towards your overall credit hours for the year. Failure to obtain all your continuing education hours can result in loss of license.
Psychiatric nursing is just one of many fields in nursing you could go into. The overall classes required to become a psychiatric nurse vary from state to state but additional classes and training is required. Psychiatry is a vast field that needs workers to help asses and care for mental health patients. Nurse practitioners can also prescribe medications, under the supervision of a doctor, as well as offer some counseling and care.