Psychiatric-mental health nurses (PMHNs) deliver nursing care to people with mental disorders. They undertake assessment of those with potential drug and mental health problems and are also responsible for the implementation and reviewing of treatment plans. They also work with the families of people with mental disorders and sometimes assist with community mental health programs.
There are two types of PMHN in the United States – basic (as described above) and advanced. PMHNs of both types work in a number of settings including hospitals, agencies, communities and people’s own homes Sub-specialties within drug and psychiatric-mental health nursing include:
- Child and adolescent
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
How to Become a PMHN
To become a basic PMHN, the following is required:
- A high school education, with the appropriate subjects and grades required to apply to a nursing program.
- A college/university education in nursing.
- A license to practice nursing as a registered nurse (RN).
How to Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) cover the same duties as PMHNs and also have extra responsibilities. APRNs must complete a master’s degree or a doctorate in addition to the RN training and licensure, and undertake roles such as:
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Nurse practitioner
- University professor
PMHN High School Requirements
To gain entry to a nursing program, students must have a high school education. The specific requirements vary from program to program, so it is advisable to contact colleges or universities as early as possible. A school careers adviser can also advise students on their choices. Generally math, English and science subjects are required.
PMHN Diploma/Degree Requirements
There are three main types of nursing qualification:
- Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) – these 2-3 year courses are offered by community colleges.
- Hospital Diplomas – these courses are hospital-based, usually lasting 3 years.
- Bachelor’s degree in nursing (BN/BSN) – these are 4 year programs. Those wishing to become APRNs require a bachelor’s degree in order to undertake master’s or doctorate.
Getting a Job as a PMHN
Following completion of a nursing program, potential nurses are required to pass an RN licensing exam in order to practice. They will then be able to apply for entry-level PMHN positions. Job titles and their abbreviations vary depending on the state in which the nurse practises.
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