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Demand for Nurses
Nurses may be the most in-demand health care position in the country.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?

Nurse practitioners typically perform the same duties that physicians and other specialists perform, except that they are much more affordable to employ. Psychiatric nurse practitioners are no exception. These nurses perform much of the same duties as psychiatrists. They talk to patients and assess their mental health, diagnose mental illnesses, provide counseling to those who need it, and can even prescribe medications. Most psychiatric nurse practitioners act like therapists, participating in talk therapies for those whose mental conditions can be remedied with counseling, such as depressed or suicidal individuals, or those with anxiety disorders. Some also act as educators, talking over a patient's condition with the patient's family members and loved ones so that these people can better understand the patient's condition and know how to react in certain scenarios. It should be noted that though psychiatric nurse practitioners typically cost less to employ and therefore are more affordable to see than psychiatrists, they are still highly educated and trained health care professionals.

How Can I Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Those interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner need to first become registered nurses with a master's degree in nursing. To become a registered nurse, prospective nurses need to either earn an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing. After completing an accredited and approved nursing program, they must successfully pass the NCLEX-RN examination to gain licensure from the State Board of Nursing. Though now licensed to work professionally, those pursuing the psychiatric nurse practitioner career path must go on to earn a master's degree in nursing with a focus on psychiatry. This means that nurses should enroll in classes that relate to psychiatric nursing whenever possible during the master's program so that they may gain ample knowledge of the field. After completing the master's program, nurses can increase their chances of employment by gaining certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. This proves that the nurse has met a standard of psychiatric knowledge and skills.

What Is the Career and Salary Outlook for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

The employment of registered nurses is projected to increase 22 percent during the 2008-18 decade, pouring approximately 581,500 jobs into the market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, registered nurses make up the largest occupational field in the health care industry, meaning that there are more nurses in the health care industry than any other job. This is because there will always be a demand for nurses due to the increasing population and necessity of professional health care. With mental health only recently gaining traction as a serious field of health care, and with health care professionals finally grasping the importance of mental health when it comes to how it relates to overall health, the job opportunities for psychiatric nurse practitioners will undoubtedly boom. In addition to the promise of good work opportunities, psychiatric nurse practitioners can also enjoy the promise of excellent pay. These nurses earn an average of $84,897 annually, according to PayScale. However, it should be noted that this figure can change depending on the nurse's work experience, employer, and geographic location.

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Kaplan University - Certification, Associate's & Bachelor's Degree.
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