Job Title: Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist
Type of Company: An outpatient psychiatric service at a hospital.
Education: BS, Psychology, Smith College MSN, Psychiatric Nursing, Yale University
Previous Experience: While I was in nursing school, I worked part-time as a patient care tech on an inpatient unit at a mental health center.
Job Tasks: I work as a psychotherapist in a hospital-based outpatient psychiatric service. The outpatient service provides individual and group therapy. We have an intensive outpatient program for clients needing intensive care, who come to groups three mornings a week. We also have a substance abuse program which offers intensive treatment (meeting three mornings or evenings a week), relapse prevention groups and substance abuse education groups that meet once a week for an hour. My job is to provide therapy to individuals and groups. My clients range from those with chronic mental illnesses, like depression, bipolar illness and anxiety disorders, and psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia, to people who generally function well in their lives, but periodically have crises or developmental issues that they seek counseling for -- relationship problems, like marital conflicts or parent-child conflicts, for example, or grief over the loss of a family member.
On a typical day I see 6-8 clients for individual therapy. Once a week I lead an older adult supportive therapy group. In this group older adults have an opportunity to connect with others, and to give and receive support with the issues of aging, for example, loss of loved ones, physical infirmity, isolation, decreased independence. Many of my clients are taking psychiatric medications that are typically prescribed by psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and primary care doctors. I work collaboratively with the client's prescriber to insure optimal care. I also meet with family members of clients when the client and I determine that this would be beneficial. Some clients I meet with weekly for only a few weeks. Others I see on an ongoing basis to help them maintain their stability.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the opportunity it provides me with to listen to the stories of others, to help others resolve problems and function at the highest level possible. It's very rewarding to witness clients making positive changes in their lives.
The worst part of the job is that it can be very stressful when clients are potentially suicidal. Often there's a fine line between a client's feeling that his or her life isn't worth living and their needing to be hospitalized to protect them from hurting themselves.
Job Tips: I would recommend for anyone thinking of pursuing a job in psychotherapy to work in a mental health setting or volunteer for a crisis hotline. Talk with someone who does the kind of work that you are interested in. Read books about mental health care and memoirs of those who lived with a major mental illness.
Additional Thoughts: Psychotherapy can be a roller coaster. It's extremely rewarding when clients are actively engaged in resolving problems. It can be very frustrating when clients are passive and expect the therapist to fix them. For me the satisfaction of the work far outweighs the stresses and frustrations. It helps to talk with colleagues in peer supervision to help keep the work in perspective.
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).
Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
Advance your career. 100% Focused on Health Sciences.
The goal of earning a master’s degree should be defined by you, not by your circumstances. No matter which path you’ve chosen, a graduate degree can help you advance with your current organization, explore opportunities with a new company, or even start fresh in a new industry. When you earn your master's degree, you’re opening new opportunities for career development that can make a difference for you and your family. Through flexible class scheduling, dedicated career advisors and quality programs, NAU strives to provide a caring and supportive learning environment to ensure your success as a student.
For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals.
Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a four-year, private university located in west St. Louis County.
Work toward your degree online with University of Cincinnati Online.
Wilkes University’s School of Nursing offers CCNE-accredited online degrees and certificate programs ideal for working health care professionals, instructed by experienced, respected faculty dedicated to mentoring and personalized support for every student.
Earn your Master's degree online from Norwich University.
Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.
Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.
Established in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent institution of higher learning in Peoria, Illinois. Inspired by our founder, notable philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley, we pursue excellence in teaching, research, scholarship and service; and we celebrate leadership, integrity, diversity and collaborative learning.
The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.
Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.
Most stories include:
Please also see our detailed information about Registered Nurses, including: