What Does a Mental Health Nurse Do?
April 14, 2014
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A mental health nurse is a registered nurse who works with patients afflicted with a psychiatric illness such as depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. If you enter this profession, you will play a multidimensional role in caring for individuals, groups or communities by addressing their mental and physical needs. As a valued member of the interdisciplinary team, your role will focus on helping patients make positive changes in their lives that will enable them to enjoy greater mental wellness.
What Will Your Duties Be?
As a psychiatric nurse, you will perform a range of duties that vary depending on your work setting and education level. According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, your job will involve assessing the mental health of your patients, formulating a treatment plan and periodically evaluating the effectiveness of your interventions. You will be responsible for administrating psychotherapy, coordinating care with physicians and helping family members respond to different scenarios. Other duties include completing tasks performed by nurses in non-psychiatric fields such as dispensing medications, taking vital signs and providing personal care.
What Are Your Work Setting Choices?
Nurses in this field have an array of settings from which to choose. Your options include general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and home health agencies in addition to substance abuse treatment centers, community mental health agencies and private practices. If you work in an inpatient facility, your work schedule will involve rotating shifts. If you work in a community health or private practice setting, you will have regular business hours.
Is Mental Health Nursing Right for You?
If you are compassionate, patient and have good communication skills, you may want to consider a career in this nursing field. These characteristics will give you the interpersonal skills you need to work with patients, families and members of a health care team. Critical thinking, strong problem-solving skills and being detail oriented are also assets for this work.
To determine if this mental health specialty in nursing is right for you, spend some time volunteering in health care settings in which you will encounter patients with psychiatric illness. It is also a good idea to shadow a mental health nurse to get a better sense of what the job entails.
The psychiatric field is in need of nurses who will play a vital part in fostering better mental wellness. Your work in this profession will play an important part in enabling those in your care to function at their best.
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