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Psychiatric Nurse Job Description

Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Psychiatric nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in providing care to patients with mental disabilities. Keep reading to get useful details about the career of a psychiatric nurse.
Patients suffering from mental disorders need to be cared for in a different way than those suffering from physical ailments. Apart from usual drugs and medications, they need a strong emotional support. Often, family members of such patients are inept in understanding the emotional needs of these patients.

Job Description

Every patient with a need for psychiatric help is different. Thus, the treatment options also have to vary according to the specific needs of the patient. As a result, the psychiatric nurse practitioner cannot adhere to the traditional practices of caregiving, but has to conform to the patient's needs. Given below are some important duties and responsibilities of a psychiatric nurse.

Diagnosing the Problem

The psychiatric nurse simply cannot start administering medications depending only upon the external behavior of a patient. The nurse has to first understand what is the problem of the patient. Evaluation of the problem can be done by talking to the patient, his family and observing the patient's behavioral pattern.

Analyzing the Situation

A psychiatric nurse may have to deal with abused children, rape victims or similarly traumatized patients. In such cases, she has to be extremely sensitive to a patient's needs. Her experience may come in handy while dealing with such emotionally volatile patients.

Collaborating with Others

After understanding the situation of the patient, a psychiatric nurse may have to liaison with other medical staff. She may have to notify the psychiatrist, general practitioners and other medical staff regarding the patient's condition, based on her findings.
She may have to collaborate with social workers regarding the future of the patient. Helping a recovered mental patient to get back with his/her life is as important as treating the mentally ill patient.

Devising a Treatment Plan

As mentioned above, every mentally ill patient is different, hence every patient needs a unique treatment plan. A psychiatric nurse has to come up with an appropriate plan after evaluating the condition of a patient. The nurse may discuss her options with other medical staff, in order to come up with the best treatment plan for the patient.

Administering Drugs

Administering drugs and medications is one of the most essential duties of any nurse and a psychiatric nurse is no exception to it. She may also perform some basic therapeutic procedures on the patient.

Monitoring Patient Condition

Although, mentally ill patients rarely invoke a medical emergency, they may create a critical situation by their behavior. Violent patients are often perceived as a threat to others and themselves. Hence, it is a must to keep a watchful eye on such patients. Similarly, patients on a suicide watch must be monitored at all times.

Handling Critical Situations

A psychiatric nurse must be well versed with the behavior of mental patients. She should sweet talk them into doing what is right for them. She must also be able to control the patients without threatening them.

Education and Salary

One can become a psychiatric nurse after completing a four-year degree course in Bachelor of Nursing with a specialization in psychiatric nursing. One may also opt for a Masters program in psychiatric nursing for better career prospects.
Taking up an NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) exam is a must to be able to work as a registered nurse with hospitals. Entry-level nurses may yearly earn anywhere between $40,000 - $50,000. As you go on garnering experience and expertise, you may earn around $70,000 on an average.
Psychiatric nurses with a Master's degree and over 5 years of experience can draw a yearly salary as high as $90,000 or more. Salary is greatly influenced by the setting in which she works as well as the state of practice.
As you can see from the above job description, the career of a psychiatric nurse is physically and emotionally demanding. Hence, if you wish to enter this field, make sure you possess the requisite skills and qualifications for the same. If you excel in your career, you can be assured of great returns, both in terms of money as well as job satisfaction.