Mental health nurses or psychiatric nurses are medical experts who work as part of a multi-disciplinary team made up of occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and other healthcare professionals. They assess a variety of patients and talk to them about their problems and establish the best way to care for them by delivering clinical treatment. They achieve this by combining strong interpersonal skills with medical expertise.

Psychiatric mental health nurses work with groups, communities, families, and individuals, assessing their mental health needs. Having pursued PMHNP programs, which is an area of focus within nursing, the PMH nurse is qualified to offer primary care services to mental health patients. They execute this by developing a plan of care and nursing diagnosis, implementing the nursing process, and evaluating it for effectiveness.

Education Requirements to become a psychiatric nurse

There are several paths to becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner that depend on your current level of education and nursing experience. Based on whether you’re in part-time or full-time school, the time it will take to complete these programs will vary. An MSN – DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) takes one to two years, BSN – MSN 18 months to two years, and BSN – DNP three to four years.

You can become a mental health nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).

To pursue psychiatric nurse practitioner programs, you’ll need at least a BSN along with one year of clinical experience. You’ll also need to become a registered nurse, pass an additional credentialing exam, and earn an advanced degree. With an MSN, you can become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. However, many nurses choose to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to expand their research opportunities, job prospects, and earning potential.

Prerequisite and admission requirements for nursing degree

You will need a high school GPA of at least 2.5 for associate programs, a 3.0 GPA for a bachelor’s degree program (or equivalent score on the GED), or have good grades from any postsecondary education you’ve already completed. CNA (Certified nursing assistant certificate) and LPN (Licensed practical nurse) programs might not have a minimum GPA.

Lower-level nursing degrees will need general education courses such as math, English, and a few science subjects like chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Advanced degrees will have more specific requirements.

You may also take entrance exams — SAT or ACT  — to assess your ability in areas such as math and reading.

Attributes of an ideal Psychiatry nurse candidate

  1. A good communicator

Your communication skills need to be excellent as a successful mental health nurse. You’ll need to make patients and their families understand their needs, and plan the right treatment and care needed.

  1. You need to be a problem-solver

In general, nurses play a very important role in assessing patients and making decisions about the best course of action. While some decisions can be simple, others could be very complex.

  1. You’ll need to be adaptable

A mental health nurse must adapt the care and treatment for people; from the young to the old affected differently by a range of conditions. You’ll also be prepared to react quickly and use good judgment to manage any situation.

  1. You should be resilient

Be ready to deal with different emotions every day. Remain professional as you maintain positive physical and mental health so you can offer the best care.

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