Psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs), also called psychiatric mental-health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs), provide a range of holistic treatments to those with mental, emotional, and behavioral medical problems.
Some PMHNPs work together with psychiatrists; others can work independently depending on their location in the country. While psychiatrists and psychiatric NPs both manage the care of similar patients, there are differences. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are more likely to work in private practice. On the other hand, psychiatric NPs often work in mental health clinics and additionally provide education and resources for patients and families.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners who are board-certified provide comprehensive care for their patients. They are licensed to diagnose, prescribe medications, and can refer to other practitioners. Depending on their interest, psychiatric nurse practitioners can focus on family health or a specialty area. For example, a psychiatric nurse practitioner can further specialize in pediatrics, addiction medicine, or geriatrics.
In approximately 27 states (including D.C.), NPs can practice independently from physicians. In 13 states, they can work with partial supervision, while in 11 states, NPs have more restricted practices.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs) have obtained their advanced practice nursing degrees by obtaining either a master’s or doctoral degree and completing additional clinical hours. Their practice area determines what further education, clinical training, and certifications they need.
The setting where the psychiatric nurse practitioner works determine much of their role, but general activities may include:·
- Perform initial assessment, diagnosis, ongoing management, and follow-up care of mental health patients
- Provide counseling and psychotherapy with patients and their families
- Collaborate with other health providers to integrate mental health needs with other medical issues
- Order psychopharmacologic medications after collaboration with a psychiatrist
- Create patient-specific care plans to manage mental health issues
- Document findings and maintain records
- Provide psychiatric-mental health education to patients and their families
- Advocate for psychiatric-mental health patients and their families
Psychiatric nurse practitioners must be compassionate to help those who likely cannot control their mental and emotional state. Psychiatric nurse practitioners are good listeners and are able to observe and analyze both the verbal and non-verbal behavior of the patients.
They must be able to integrate both medical and nursing knowledge. PMHNPs learn how to interpret assessment findings, arrive at a working diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners must increase their knowledge in order to prescribe and administer psychopharmacologic medications safely. Overall, NPs must learn to think independently, follow their instincts, and utilize strong critical thinking skills.