Psychiatric nursing is a specialized area of professional nursing that involves the care for mentally impaired patients. The concerns of this specialty are treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation of mental health-related problems. Not only does this include short-term psychotherapy, but also advanced physical assessment. Psychiatric nursing can be found in a variety of settings including nursing care facilities, ambulatory care clinics, psychiatric inpatient and outpatient clinics, private group practices, and mental health settings.
Roles essential in psychiatric nursing include referring mentally ill patients needing more specialized care to the appropriate specialist or physician, routine physical health screening, short-term psychotherapy, psychoeducation, providing primary health care for common physical problems and immediate preventive health services. Patients are assisted with their self-care and taught about health and mental health either in groups or individually. Psychiatric nursing can also involve counseling and crisis intervention.
Psychiatric nursing is a flexible field requiring a broad range of knowledge, and there are many concerns that it is able to address. For one, not all mentally ill patients are receiving adequate medical care. Mental health workers in the outpatient setting rarely perform physical examinations. Also, not all such patients have a support network of family or friends to aide in properly conveying the illness to the medical caregivers. Lastly, psychiatric patients may have impaired abilities to process information that can prevent comprehension of their treatment regimes.
Demand for psychiatric nursing in residential facilities is expected to rise, not only in response to the growing older population, but also because care outside of hospitals allows patients to live a more normal life and is more cost effective. Today psychiatric inpatient admissions have fallen, while outpatient admissions are on the rise. Psychiatric nursing will continue to be in demand for the outpatient care of mentally impaired patients.
If you want to start a career in psychiatric nursing, you need a nursing degree. Consider an online LPN to BSN degree or an online RN to BSN degree if you’re already a nurse. Otherwise, compare these programs from the University of Phoenix:
» Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
» Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)