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WHAT IS A PSYCHIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONER?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are specialized advanced practice nurses that provide mental health assessment and treatment. They often work in a range of settings including hospitals, their own private practices, community health centers, and primary care units.

What do psychiatric nurse practitioners do?

Psychiatric nurse practitioners assess, diagnose, and treat individual with psychiatric disorders. Nurse practitioner (NP) roles are rather broad. They complete psychiatric evaluations, diagnose mental health disorders, prescribe medication and perform psychotherapy in order to treat mental health disorders. They also take into account the biological, psychological, and social aspects when assessing and treating patients.

What’s the difference between a psychiatric nurse practitioner and a psychiatrist?

Both psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists are trained in providing therapy and prescribing medications. However, psychiatrists undergo more rigorous and specific training in medicine during their residency programs. Psychiatric nurses are only able to prescribe medicine related to mental health, while psychiatrists are able to prescribe any medication any other doctor might. Additionally, psychiatric nurses are trained in a patient-focused model that more heavily emphasizes the needs and desires of patients. Especially during their hospital training, nurses are often tasked with working more directly with patients and families to ensure the best care possible. This experience often carries through to their private practice when providing therapy or medication management.

How are psychiatric nurse practitioners trained?

Before becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner, individuals first obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing to become a registered nurse (RN). After working as an RN in their field of focus, nurse practitioners must complete a master’s degree in their desired nursing specialty, for instance, psychiatric nursing. Much like residency training for doctors, nurse practitioners are required to complete clinical hours with patients in various settings related to their specialty, often providing treatment and care to patients under supervision. After graduating from a master’s program, psychiatric nurse practitioners must take continuing education credits and be retested on their clinical skills throughout their career.

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