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Career Story: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Job Title: Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Type of Company: I work for a private, for-profit psychiatric hospital.

Education: diploma, Nursing, Beth Israel Hospital School of Nursing •• BS, Nursing, BA, Psychology, Rhode Island College •• MS, Nursing, University of Rhode Island •• Ph.D., Nursing Practice, Case Western Reserve University

Previous Experience: I worked as a staff nurse in various hospitals and then got my Masters degree, allowing me to prescribe medications and provide therapy to people who were having problems with their mental health. I also taught nursing students in universities.

Job Tasks: I admit people in mental health crisis to the psychiatric hospital. I assess their level of functioning, assess the medications they may be receiving, and suggest alternatives. I also take care of people who are addicted to street drugs and provide a safe, supervised detoxification experience. I provide therapy every day. I check to see how my patients are responding to medication changes. I work with their families, explaining the illnesses and treatment options to the patients and their loved ones. I write all the orders for medications that the staff nurses have to follow. I basically do everything a psychiatrist does for these very emotionally fragile people.

I also supervise the other nurse practitioners, providing suggestions for patient treatment.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is observing and contributing to a person's recovery so that he or she can go back to a healthy way of living. With the proper use of medications, I can help to reduce anxiety, stop people from hearing voices that no one else can hear, and stop depression.

The worst part of my job is having to try to help people who don't want help, who've been hospitalized, basically, because someone else could force them to be.

Job Tips:
1. Take as many psychology courses as electives, along with your nursing courses, as you can.

2. Listen to and apply the information given to you by the psychiatric nursing instructors. Psychiatric nursing care occurs everywhere in nursing, not just in psychiatric hospitals.

3. Learn and understand more about yourself. In psychiatric nursing, you must establish healthy, emotional boundaries. Know your strengths and weaknesses.

Additional Thoughts: Many people think I 'shrink' my patient's brain. People also think I psychoanalyze them when I am with them. I don't. I leave my work at work and am a 'normal' person at home and at play.

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