The psychiatric nurse practitioner or mental health nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has complete master’s work or sometimes PhD work in this field. This prepares these specialists to work specifically with people with psychiatric illness and to, in most cases, be able to diagnose illness and prescribe medication. Those interested in the field of advanced mental health nursing should know there are many kinds of psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs. Most of these deal with direct patient care, but a few may be oriented toward public education or teaching.
Some psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs are as private practice professionals. In most states, these nurses can diagnose and prescribe, and work independently and without supervision. They may run their own practice and work with patients who have mental illness and require diagnosis of that illness plus medication management. The individual nurse can determine whether or not to offer counseling as part of his/her services too, and might conduct regular sessions that include medication management as is needed. In states or countries when mental health nurse practitioners require supervision, these nurses could still work in private practice assisting psychiatrists or other physicians, and seeing some patients.
Occasionally large or small primary care clinics employ a psychiatric nurse practitioner to see those patients with mental health needs. This can be useful because it provides a more direct way for patients to get care and diagnosis. It can also easily coordinate with any other care a patient regularly receives from a primary care doctor.
Additional psychiatric nurse practitioners jobs include those in mental health institutions, where with or without supervision of a psychiatrist, nurse practitioners could work with the patient population and make decisions about patient treatment and care. The goal in most mental health facilities is to stabilize patients. Once stable, patients can return home and receive continued management with a psychiatric nurse or psychiatrist on an outpatient basis.
There are other large facilities that may have one or more psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs. Mental health nurse practitioners could work in correctional facilities assisting mentally ill people who are incarcerated. They might also work in drug rehabilitation centers with people with dual diagnosis, physical rehabilitation hospitals, or in long term care facilities. Standard hospitals may have psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs available too.
In some circumstances, psychiatric nurse practitioner jobs are aimed at public health and education. Jobs could include participating in writing educational materials about mental health issues, or working with specific groups to teach about mental illness for which that group might be particularly vulnerable. When these nurse practitioners earn PhD degrees, they may decide to teach others about their profession by becoming faculty members at a college that offers a psychiatric nurse practitioner training program.