Psychiatric Nurse Training

Trained psychiatric nurses do not deal with sick people per se, but a class of patients who require special attention due to their distorted judgmental capacity and lack of sound mind. This is a branch of nursing where you will be taught to take care for one who cannot make sound individual judgments for most things in their lives.

Trying to restore sanity to sane persons is not a walk in the park and therefore, psychiatric nurses need to be well versed with patience, sympathy, tolerance and support for their patients. This forms part of the core values before embarking on psychiatric training.

Psychiatric Nurse Training

For you to be eligible for psychiatric nurse training, you must have come from the level of a registered nurse.  Most psychiatric nurses are RNs who have taken mental health nursing as an advanced education option.  They are in the health professional cluster known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and have superior knowledge on mental health issues.

The Training Path of Mental Health Nurses

To become a Psychiatric Nurse (PN), it is a prerequisite to be a RN. It is also possible to start your psychiatry nursing training from the level of an Associate of Science in nursing degree holder. Starting off with a BSN is also recommended but not required.

You must take the usual training path of being a registered nurse at nursing school and the advancement to a PN comes later as a specialty. After completion of nursing school and graduating with your BSN or ASN, you will be required to take additional skills on mental health-related courses. The nursing training courses for those interested in mental health nursing involve intensive study of:

  • General psychiatry
  • Psychological therapies
  • How to build therapeutic alliances
  • Psychiatric pharmacology
  • Child and old age psychiatry and
  • Mastering of Behavioral patterns

In addition to the coursework, aspiring psychiatric nurse trainees will need to undergo a period of supervised mental clinical study. Upon successful completion of this section, the trainee psychiatric is expected to take and pass an exam that will give them membership to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  After this comes the certification as a psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Future Outlook and Career Advancement of Psychiatric Nursing

If you wish to advance and have an area of specialty in the field of psychiatric nursing, you may enroll for an additional 2-year Master of Nursing to become a specialized psychiatrist nurse. A specialized psychiatric nurse will be particularly trained in either of the following:

i)        Adolescents’ psychiatry

ii)      Adult and old age psychiatry or

iii)    Child psychiatry

This gives the nurse a Certificate of Completion in Specialist Training, one of the highest levels a psychiatric nurse can attain.

Roles of a Psychiatric Nurse

Naturally, it is quite challenging to deal with mentally ill persons and as such, psychiatric nurses need to be specially trained to handle this group of patients. Many mentally challenged patients are extremely violent and unruly and it is the work of the psychiatric nurse to ensure they are calm and orderly. As a psychiatric nurse, your training will reflect your ability to:

  • Administer psychiatric treatments and medications to psychiatric patients
  • Administer psychological therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapies
  • Perform Electroconvulsive therapy
  • Help patients cope with spiritual and psychosocial distress
  • Manage community centers for the mentally ill
  • Conduct counseling sessions; especially to depression patients
  • In rare and concerted cases, a psychiatric practitioner, in conjunction with a senior doctor or other psychiatric nurses have the role of administering forceful detention to mental patients. But is this observed only in the case where other forms of management therapies have failed.  According to the Mental Health Act, this is only allowed if the patient is not in a capacity to make the decision of voluntary detention.

Work Setting of Mental Health Nurses

Most psychiatric nurse graduates work in mental health agencies: home based and long-term care facilities, community centers for the mentally challenged and major psychiatric hospitals. Those nurses who work as community psychiatrists are referred to as Community Psychiatric Nurses (CPNs), while those who work in hospital settings are referred to as Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Salary Range for Nurses in Psychiatry

As given under the bureau of labor and statistics, a fully qualified and certified psychiatrist nurse practitioner should expect a salary of anywhere between $70000 and $85000. As with any career, these figures are subject to change depending on the highest level of education attained, location and other relevant certifications.


★ Featured Online Nursing Programs

You might also be interested in one of the following featured nursing programs that are currently accepting students and have online or hybrid nursing programs. You can get in touch with these featured programs directly to get your questions answered. Be sure to check with each program on specific prerequisites for their program!

Online BSN Programs

Online MSN Programs