Psychiatric nurses and psychiatric nurse practitioners have one of the most demanding and ultimately fulfilling jobs in the healthcare industry. Their work can be challenging, rewarding, and above all else, deeply important. Every day, these specialized nurses support people during the most difficult times of their lives, offering guidance, warmth, and understanding. They are patient, compassionate, and empathetic, always putting their clients first and constantly striving to provide the best possible care.
At times, the job can be intense or emotionally draining, but it’s a vital aspect of healthcare that ensures that everyone who needs mental health support receives it. Without these dedicated professionals, many individuals would be left without the resources they need for their health, safety, and well-being.
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What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners and mental health nurses are responsible for providing care to those battling emotional distress and mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse issues. These professionals work together with doctors, social workers, therapists, etc. in order to properly diagnose, track symptoms of progress or regression, and provide treatment plans tailored to the individual patient. This wide range of psychiatric care enables patients to receive the best possible care suited to their unique situation.
Some of their day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Assessing a patient’s mental and physical health
- Providing counseling services
- Testing for vital signs
- Creating treatment plans and therapeutic interventions,
- Monitoring medication use
- Completing assessments of individual progress over time
- Communicating with family members
- And other healthcare professionals involved in the patient’s care.
The role of a psych nurse practitioner is becoming increasingly important as the demand for mental health services continues to rise. In 2023, mental health nurses will be faced with numerous opportunities and challenges as they strive to provide care for their clients.
Challenges of a Mental Health Nursing Program
Med-Surg nursing, Peds, and OB may be easier to understand for some students compared to Mental Health nursing as it requires starting from the basics. This is why many students find this course difficult. To make studying more manageable, a great way to do so is by dividing chapters among 10-12 friends. Everyone can take charge of a chapter and create an all-encompassing outline. This way, you spend less time reading the assigned chapters and can focus on learning them better. It’s a win-win situation!
Here are Common Challenges for Mental Health Nursing:
1. Different Perspectives
Mental health nursing is a complex subject that covers many different perspectives and theories such as psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, systems theory, and so forth. It’s important to understand the various frameworks of mental health in order to be able to effectively diagnose and treat patients with mental illness.
2. Managing Stress
Dealing with mental illness can be challenging for nurses because it can be emotionally taxing. Nurses must learn how to manage their own stress levels in order to provide the best care possible for their patients.
3. Treatment Planning
Developing an appropriate treatment plan is essential for successful patient outcomes in mental health nursing. Knowing which treatments are most effective for different mental illnesses can be a difficult task.
Psychopharmacology is an intriguing field that explores the relationship between the mind and medicine. It focuses on the use of drugs to treat mental health disorders, aiming to alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being.
As the use of psychotropic medications for mental illnesses increases, psychiatric nurse practitioners must be able to properly monitor and assess the effectiveness of these drugs on their patients.
Unfortunately, psychopharmacology can be a challenging subject to learn. There are numerous medications available for each disorder, and it can be difficult to keep all of the potential side effects straight. Furthermore, since most psychotropic drugs take weeks or even months to become fully effective, accurate patient assessment is essential.
5. Building Rapport
One of the most important skills for psychiatric nurses is building rapport with their patients. This is especially true in mental health nursing, as many people who are dealing with mental illnesses may be hesitant to open up about their experiences and symptoms.
Psychiatric nurses must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to effectively build a relationship of trust and understanding between themselves and their patients. While this skill can take time to develop, it’s essential for providing quality care to individuals struggling with mental illness.
6. De-Escalating Crisis Situations
In any nursing specialty, but particularly in psychiatry, crises can arise quickly and without warning. Psychiatric nurse practitioners must be prepared for these situations physically, mentally, and emotionally. They must possess the skills to de-escalate a crisis in an appropriate and effective manner.
This can be a daunting task, as psychiatric nurses must remain calm while also ensuring their own safety and that of their patients. It requires experience, training, and practice to become comfortable with these situations.
7. Stigma Around Mental Health Issues
Unfortunately, mental illness is still taboo in many circles. This stigma can make it difficult for psychiatric nursing students to effectively communicate with their clients or advocate for them professionally. This challenge becomes even more prominent when working with certain populations such as veterans or the elderly who may have had negative experiences with healthcare professionals in the past due to prejudice or ignorance about mental health issues.
8. Working Within Interdisciplinary Teams
Psychiatric nurses must also become adept at working in an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. This includes psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, therapists, and other medical providers. It is the psychiatric nurse’s role to ensure that all members of the team are communicating effectively to provide the best care for their patients.
Why is Mental Health Nursing Unpopular?
Mental health nursing is a field that is often overlooked and underappreciated. Despite the vital role that psych nurses play in the healthcare system, it is not a popular career choice among nursing students. One of the reasons for this could be the stigma attached to mental health issues, which has resulted in a lack of understanding and appreciation for those who work in the field.
It can be a challenging and emotionally demanding profession, requiring immense patience and empathy. But mental health nursing can also be incredibly rewarding, offering the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of those dealing with mental health difficulties. Perhaps it is time for us to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of mental health nurses and break down the stereotypes that continue to hold back the field.
Psych Nursing Jobs Near Me
The demand for qualified mental health nurses is increasing all over the country. To find psych nursing jobs in your area, you can search online job boards such as Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor & LinkedIn.
You can also use specialized sites such as PsychiatricNursingJobs.com to find jobs that match your skills, qualifications and experience. Additionally, you can contact local hospitals and clinics to inquire about open positions or job opportunities. Utilizing these resources can help you find a rewarding career in mental health nursing.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.