psychiatric nurse     

According to the American Nursing Association, the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing is defined as follows:

A specialized area of nursing practice employing theories of human behavior as its science and purposeful use of self as its art. It is directed toward both preventative and corrective impacts upon mental disorders and their sequelae and is concerned with the promotion of optimal mental health for society, the community, and those individuals who live within it. (Stewart and Sundeen, 1991, p.3).

This area of nursing requires effective communication skills, as well as listening skills. Individuals in this specialty work with a wide variety of mental-health patients: depression, violent behavior, substance abuse, schizophrenic, anxiety, and many more disorders. The functions of a Psychiatric Nurse are patient care (i.e. administer medications, fulfill patient self care needs, etc.), consultation with patient and family, supervision, and patient education about specific mental illnesses. The nurse will also be involved in psychotherapy sessions (group counseling). Providing available resources for patients preparing for discharge is of utmost importance (Beck, Rawlins and Williams, 1984). The option of teaching in the community is also available. The community mental health nurse will intervene in communities in order to decrease the incidence of certain mental illnesses. The nurse in this role is highly autonomous; however, more experience is necessary in order to be knowledgeable about the mental disorders and the community, itself.

Requirements LEVEL 1
Associate Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Education Current state licensure Baccalaureate degree in nursing Master's degree in psychiatric nursing
Experience Minimum of 1year experience in acute psychiatric nursing care Minimum of 2 years experience in acute psychiatric care settings Advanced knowledge and expertise in psychiatric care and principles of supervision and consultation
Nature of Practice Supportive treatment Supportive treatment Insight treatment
Functions Communicating with other professionals and agencies relative to patient care, assisting in assessment, familiarize patient with environmental resources, assisting in community primary prevention programs. Primary responsibility for supportive therapy, assessment of patient functioning, initiation and attendance at all conferences regarding patients, assignment to interdisciplinary teams responsible for delivery of primary mental health care in ambulatory units Responsibility for insight-oriented psychotherapy, responsibility for patient cared for by nurses in levels 1 and 2 of practice, assessment of patient pathology, supervision of other team members, participation in primary community prevention programs, responsibility for obtaining supervision consultation, responsible for assumption of nursing leadership
(Stewart and Sundeen, 1991, p. 6, 7)

The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Manager

The manager in this area is responsible for overseeing the nurse supervisor and floor nurses. The manager ensures the flow of care of the patients through conducting staff meetings and supervision on the unit. The nurse manager also provides intervention sessions to the patient and family to better the outcome of their mental illness. Serving on committees of the hospital is another responsibility of the nurse manager; the committees are geared toward meeting patient needs and to ensure the patient has a positive hospital experience (C. Bowling, personal communication, 9/25/01). 

Helpful websites:
Human Nature