How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

The world of mental health care is buzzing with professionals who take on various tasks in the field. Some provide treatment plans for patients, and others prepare patients for consultations. A psychiatric nurse practitioner will do a bit both, making him or her an incredibly versatile employee in the nursing profession. If you have been looking for a way to get involved with psychiatrics on an in-depth level, this could be the perfect career for you. You just have to go through a few steps to get into it. Here is a guide showing how to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

Step 1 – Determine If Psychiatric Nursing Is Right for You

The specific job duties of a psychiatric nurse practitioner will depend on the employer he or she works for. Some employers need NPs to take on a nursing role, and others need them to act as secondary doctors. You will have to see what your employer wants you to do in the future, but chances are it will involve some of the following tasks:

  • File medical reports
  • Prescribe medications for treatment
  • Administer medications
  • Develop patient treatment plans
  • Assist psychiatrists
  • Counsel with mental health patients
  • Diagnose patients with mental illnesses

Consider the responsibilities above carefully and determine if they are in line with your plans in life. If they are, you can follow the steps below to start your career.

Step 2 – Get an Education in Nursing and Psychiatry

You will need to have a master’s degree or higher to work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. This will give you a basic education in nursing from the undergraduate training and a focused knowledge of psychiatrics at the graduate level. There are several degree programs you could go through to become a psychiatric nurse. You just have to find one that works for you. Possibilities may include:

  • Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner specialty
  • Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing specialty
  • Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatry specialty
  • Master of Science in Nursing, Nurse Practitioner specialty
  • Doctorate in Nursing

Step 3 – Get Certified

With your education complete, you will need to take a certification exam to verify your knowledge in the field of psychiatrics. You could potentially find a job without a certification, but you will have a better chance of getting a job if you have the credentials to back up your skills. Possible certification programs include:

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • Critical Care
  • Family Practice
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse-Board Certified:
  • Pediatrics

Step 4 – Find a Job as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

When you finally have all of the basic training and authorization you need to become a psychiatric nurse, all you have to do is start looking for work there are tons of employers that will potentially hire you as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, including:

  • Psychiatric Service Facilities
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • General Hospitals
  • Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Health Clinics
  • Healthcare Facilities

You will simply need to look for employers in your area that need the services you provide. Once you find them, you should be able to make a substantial amount of money working as a nurse practitioner. Annual earnings improve as you gain experience, so it is important to stay committed to your work. Here are some salary statistics from across the country:

  • California: $70,710 – $123,668 per year
  • Illinois: $60,820 – $118,359 per year
  • Massachusetts: $58,958 – $101,682 per year
  • New York: $60,000 – $130,000 per year
  • North Carolina: $26,174 – $89,396 per year
  • Ohio: $60,200 – $96,384 per year
  • Texas: $65,000 – $101,497 per year

Review the guide above and decide if this is something you really want to commit to. If so, you now know what you need to do to become a nurse practitioner in the future.