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Nursing Careers: Psychiatric Nursing

Do You Have What it Takes to go Into Psychiatric Nursing?

by Greg Cryns

Psychiatric nursing can be a challenging, but rewarding profession for those that love helping people with mental health issues. Psychiatric nursing can be one of the most challenging aspects of the nursing profession. Read on to learn more about psychiatric nursing.

Any nurse can go into psychiatric nursing on a basic level. This basic level may take you into a hospital setting that has a psychiatric unit for those in crisis. It may be an adolescent psychiatric unit where you will be working with young people that have mental issues or it may be an adult psychiatric unit where you will be working with all age groups.

You can also work in the community by doing home visits with mental health patients that are trying to live a normal life on their 

own. You may visit them once a week for an assessment and progress check to make sure that they are safe to continue living on their own.

There are also mental health units that are devoted to taking care of the geriatric patient with dementia or Alzheimerís disease. Some of these units are incorporated into long term care facilities.

If you want to advance your career as a psychiatric nurse you can get a masterís degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. You will then be a clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner that specializes in mental health. You can even sub-specialize in adolescent mental health or geriatric mental health. Maybe you want to specialize in substance abuse or forensics. The opportunities for psychiatric nurses are wide open and you can be sure to find a specialty that fits you well.

The salary for a psychiatric nurse is about $35,000-$40,000 as entry level. Advanced practice psychiatric nurses can earn $60,000 or more. Nurse executives or nurses in administrative positions can earn $100,000 or more. The pay scale depends on several factors including, level of education, years of experience, size of the facility and geographic location.

A psychiatric nurse is expected to take care of the mental and physical needs of the patient with the focus on the mental needs. They are responsible for administering medication, conducting therapy sessions and recognizing signs of impending crises or worsening mental issues. These must be reported to the psychiatrist or nurse practitioner for immediate intervention.

Psychiatric nursing is not for everyone. It is emotionally draining and sometimes it can be very dangerous. Only those with a true love of psychiatric nursing should apply for these types of jobs. All basic nursing programs will put you through a psychiatric rotation where you can get a feel for what it is all about. Choose your nursing specialty wisely.


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