What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Do?
Talented nurses can pursue a number of specialties. One specialty you can consider after becoming a registered nurse is psychiatry.
What is a Psychiatric Nurse?
Psychiatric nurses are dedicated to helping people overcome mental illness. They work closely with psychiatrists, social workers, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists and a variety of other professionals to create a treatment program for patients.
You will have a number of responsibilities as a psychiatric nurse, which may include:
- Taking patient’s personal histories
- Administering medications
- Creating a safe therapeutic environment for patients in an inpatient setting
- Enforcing elements of a patient’s treatment plan
- Organizing treatment groups and working with other professionals to help implement them
Psychiatric nurses provide the most direct care to the patients. Psychiatrists and the rest of the treatment team depend on them to administer medications and carry out other elements of the treatment plan. Psychiatric nurses also provide the essential role of observing the patients and providing feedback to the doctors.
What Kinds of Patients Will a Psychiatric Nurse Treat?
There are many different types of mental illnesses. Psychiatric nurses may help patients suffering from any of the following:
- Substance abuse. Many patients may be struggling to overcome addictions to alcohol, narcotics, prescription drugs or other substances.
- Mood disorders. Patients may be prone to feelings of depression or mania. Common mood disorders include bipolar, manic and major depressive disorder.
- Thought disorders. Some patients may be suffering from psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, which leads to bizarre delusions or hallucinations.
- Personality disorders. Some patients have extremely distressing personality traits that can make them a danger to themselves or others. Psychiatric nurses may work with patients suffering from histrionic, borderline and obsessive compulsive personality disorders.
- Anxiety disorders. Many patients have an exaggerated and irrational fear of certain situations or events that keeps them from being able to live a normal life. These may include post-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Psychiatric nurses must take the needs of each patient into consideration and help establish the most appropriate treatment regimen for them. Every patient’s needs will be different and they will have to keep them in mind.
What Types of Settings Will a Psychiatric Nurse Work in?
Psychiatric nurses can find work in a variety of settings. Many of them will work in a psychiatric institution. They also commonly work in substance abuse facilities or for home healthcare agencies. Other facilities may occasionally hire psychiatric nurses as well, such as schools or community programs.
Do You Have What it Takes to Work as a Psychiatric Nurse?
Psychiatric nursing is a very intense career. Nurses in this discipline must understand how to work in teams with people from a variety of other disciplines. They must also understand how to communicate with patients with mental illness and learn to interpret their statements. Patients in these settings often pose a danger to themselves or others. Nurses must be aware of these risks and be prepared to address them.
Kalen Smith is an educational and career advice writer who writes about nursing masters programs.