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Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


Psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs) are certified advanced practice nurses who administer to the mental health needs of individuals, families, groups or communities. To become certified as a psychiatric NP, nursing professionals must hold a Master of Science in Nursing degree specializing in psychiatric healthcare, current Registered Nurse licensure and certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Nursing professionals who wish to further specialize may choose from programs in child, adolescent, gerontological, substance abuse or forensic psychiatry. Some psychiatric NPs go on to earn a doctoral degree within their specialty, though this is not a requirement.

What Does a Psychiatric NP Do?

Psychiatric NPs assess and diagnose patients, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication. They treat patients with diagnosed disorders, as well as those with family histories or other factors that increase the likelihood of potential mental illness. In keeping with nurse practitioners’ holistic approach to health care, psychiatric nurse practitioners educate and inform patients and their families about mental health issues and steps they can take to boost their care.

Typical duties for a psychiatric NP include assessing and diagnosing mental health problems like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or dementia; other patients may struggle with grief, anger, adjustment issues or other conditions. Diagnostic steps for these problems include recording a patient’s verbal history, performing a physical exam and ordering diagnostic tests. When a diagnosis is made, the nurse practitioner develops and manages a treatment plan, prescribing medication and administering psychotherapy as necessary. Nurses treat patients one-on-one or in group settings with family members or other patients.

Potential Work Settings

  • Private practice
  • Psychiatric and behavioral treatment clinics
  • Corporations
  • Consulting with businesses or communities
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Public health agencies
  • Family practice or pediatric clinics
  • Correctional Facilities

What Does It Take to Become a Psychiatric NP?


  • Self-Confidence
  • Interpersonal Ability
  • Listening Skills
  • Communication
  • Desire to Educate
  • Emotional Stability
  • Composure
  • Problem-solving

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Information and Job Outlook

Annual salary range: $82,780 - $107,520

Job Outlook: 2010 - 2.74 million jobs; 2020 - 3.45 million jobs

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