Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

If you are a registered nurse who has a passion in interacting with people and exploring how the mind works, a work as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner might be the right job for you. With the rapid changes in the healthcare industry, more and more knowledge are also embarked. The only way to know more about such topics such as Psychiatric Nursing is through extra education. It is not just a mere requirement but as a way of enhancing yourself professionally.

Before a registered nurse can get certified, he or she must undergo certifications or even proceed to post-graduate studies. In this manner, he or she will learn more about Psychiatric Nursing through lectures and discussions as well as more exposures in the clinical area. The educational program is designed to equip the nurse practitioner to deliver quality primary mental health care services. This means that as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you can work independently as a consultant rather than being employed as a regular nurse.

The focal point of mental nursing care is psychiatric disorders. The psychiatric nurse practitioner therefore must equip himself or herself with a good foundation about these mental disorders as well as diagnoses based on the updated taxonomies such as DSM-IV-TR and ICD-9. Some instances, psychiatric cases does not meet the criteria dedicated on the above taxonomies, the signs and symptoms are still noted and intervened by nurse practitioners.

psychiatric nurse practitioner executing her job as a counselor

Psychiatric nurse practitioners do not only work with mentally ill but as well as in promoting a health mental state. As a counselor, psychiatric nurse practitioners can exercise their expertise in terms of career guidance or relationship mentor. They also use the nursing process approach in meeting the needs of patients across the life span. Here are the following activities that they do in each step of nursing process:

  1. Assessment Phase– In this phase, the psychiatric nurse practitioner is initially a stranger to the patient. In this step, there is an interaction between the nurse and the patient. Trust must be established so that the whole process will be effective. Important facts about the patient are taken through proper consent such as past medical and mental history as well as age-appropriate growth.The nurse employs theories as well as evidenced-based results about how to screen out patients and classify them according to the prescribed taxonomies. After this classification, the nurse also compares the current mental status of the patient on the normal range of mental thinking and processes as well as behaviours.Factors that may affect the current state of mind of the patient are also explored such as family environment, heredity, past experience that may cause trauma, coping skills, gender as well as culture of the patient.
  2. Diagnosis Phase– After gathering important data about the patient, the psychiatric nurse practitioner is now ready to analyze and correlate the data to produce a favourable interpretation of the current mental state of the patient.The psychiatric nurse particularly organizes the data such as personal data of the patient as well as prescribed tests done in the laboratory. The signs and symptoms observed from the patient as also being noted and grouped whether it belongs to the typical or atypical symptoms. In this way, the nurse will now know what symptoms can be treated from not. After grouping the symptoms, some of them is then verified if it is related to other medical conditions. Some medical conditions may precipitate psychiatric signs. The nurse will then refer it to the medical practitioner for further follow-up. At the diagnosis phase, the nurse also applies the standard taxonomies as a good guide in approaching such cases in the later part of the process. The nurse also laid the facts that may show the future impact of the present psychiatric symptoms to the overall activities and lifestyle of the patient.
  3. Planning and Implementation Phase– This is where the actual action of the nurse takes place. He or she may take the roles: counselor, mentor, coach, teacher and listener. The treatment plan is utilized to organize and document the response of the patient on the prescribed plan. The psychiatric nurse practitioner also works with other medical professionals in implementing the plan such as giving the right psychiatric medications as well as rehabilitative activities.As psychiatric nurse practitioners, there are psychiatric medications that can prescribe as mandated by the laws on the state. Further tests are also requested to evaluate the patient’s response to the treatment.

Upon the management of the patient’s illness, evaluation must be done. It is actually an ongoing process that affects the implementation of plan of care. Timely evaluation and accurate measurement of patient’s response may serve as a good reference for a concrete plan of care that is unique to each patient.


Photo Credits:


Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

What Do You Think?