What are the Different Types of Psychiatric Nursing Jobs?

Florence J. Tipton

When a patient suffers from mental health issues, a team of mental health professionals may work together to oversee wellness care. For those with psychiatric nursing jobs, this may involve diagnosing needs to help define the best course of action to administer care. Most tasks associated with psychiatric nursing jobs may help to lay the foundation for implementing care. The complex duties of psychiatric nursing jobs typically require skills and knowledge for providing advanced levels of care.

Psychiatric nurses need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.
Psychiatric nurses need specialized empathy and listening skills when interacting with elderly patients and their caregivers.

Within most mental health facilities, there are generally two types of psychiatric nursing jobs. A person may obtain a degree as a registered nurse with a specialty in psychiatry. This may qualify the person for jobs as a psychiatric nurse. Going on to receive an advanced degree in nursing with a concentration in psychiatry may qualify a person for jobs as a nurse practitioner. This person usually has responsibilities similar to a psychiatrist.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners are often employed at mental-health facilities that provide inpatient and partial hospitalization services.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners are often employed at mental-health facilities that provide inpatient and partial hospitalization services.

A psychiatric nurse may have several duties related to providing mental health care. The psychiatric nurse is often responsible for determining the patient’s mental health status based on the diagnosis. Generally, the psychiatric nurse will use the mental health diagnosis to develop plans for ongoing treatment. These plans may entail providing assistance with leading a productive life. Additionally, the plan may outline the course of action for monitoring the progress of treatment.

A psychiatric nurse might work in a psych ward.
A psychiatric nurse might work in a psych ward.

Psychiatric nursing jobs that require advanced degrees and training may require skills to fulfill complex responsibilities for mental health care. Working as a nurse practitioner, most nursing jobs at a higher level perform many of the basic duties of mental health nursing care. In addition, the nurse practitioner is also trained to work without supervision. The nurse practitioner may have many primary care responsibilities, including writing prescriptions to treat mental health disorders.

A psychiatric nurse if often responsible for determining the patient's mental health status.
A psychiatric nurse if often responsible for determining the patient's mental health status.

The different types of mental health nursing jobs generally work with individuals or groups within various settings. Most psychiatric nurses might work in the psychiatric ward of a hospital or long-term care facility where patients stay for an extended period. Others might work in facilities that provide outpatient care to mental health patients who come for periodic visits.

There are also some psychiatric nursing jobs that target sub-specialties. These may include geriatric, substance abuse, or eating disorders associated with mental health issues. Each sub-specialty typically requires specialized training in addition to nursing degrees.

Geriatric psychiatric nurses usually work with older adults who may have mental health conditions stemming from a physical illness. A person may suffer from mental health issues from substance abuse and the psychiatric nurse might develop care plans to diminish dependency. Eating disorders are another subspecialty that requires expert knowledge and skill applicable to the disorder. The psychiatric nurse or nurse practitioner may work closely with the patient through counseling to overcome the disorder.

Nurse practitioners provide both counseling services and medical care for people who struggle with mental illnesses.
Nurse practitioners provide both counseling services and medical care for people who struggle with mental illnesses.

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