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Psychiatric Nurse Salary and Other Career Information

Career News July 28, 2013

If you think nurses are simply those that work in hospitals and emergency rooms, wearing scrubs and treating a variety of patients, you’re mistaken. While the aforementioned example is characteristic of a typical registered nurse (RN), there are various specialties of the nursing field (i.e., military, orthopedic, etc.) that also fall under the greater “nurse” classification. One such type is the psychiatric nurse. Generally speaking, psychiatric nurses treat and care for patients that suffer from psychiatric disorders and other mental health issues. Such diseases include the likes of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorders. While the public may view people suffering from such symptoms as “crazy,” it’s part of the psychiatric nurse’s responsibility to objectively treat and help such patients get healthy, so they can live as normal of a life as possible.

This article will cover the responsibilities, salary and other aspect of the psychiatric nurse profession:

Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses, or RNs, earn an average of about $64,700 per year. This is comparable to what psychiatric nurses make as well – according to Salary.com, data collected from various nursing human resources departments from various-sized employers found the average psychiatric nurse salary is about $67,000, which is slightly higher than the average RN salary. In addition to the regular schooling and bachelor’s degree that is required for employment, psychiatric nurses must possess certification in the respective field. For example, due to the delicate nature of some of the disorders and conditions they come into contact with every day, psychiatric nurses are extensively trained in how to best manage patients living with such mental health issues.

Duties

We already told you about some of the conditions that psychiatric nurses help treat and care for (i.e., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.), but there’s more to the job of a psychiatric nurse than just helping diagnose and treat symptoms. For instance, psychiatric nurses need to be experts on the aforementioned conditions, as it’s their responsibility to educate their patients and family members not only on the characteristics of their conditions, but on the best course of treatment moving forward. That’s why knowledge of all the conditions and disorders they’re likely to treat is so essential to the job. Advanced degrees may also be required by some employers.

Difficulty

A psychiatric nurse doesn’t have an easy job. While one’s role is different from that of the RN – and the busy schedule of caring for patients on the hospital floor or in the doctor’s office – psychiatric nurses face equally daunting challenges. For instance, there’s a great deal of patience involved with dealing with patients that are experiencing mental health issues, as they may not fully comprehend exactly what it is that’s wrong with them. Some patients may also not remember certain information, which may force nurses to repeat information or provide all information to a family representative. Also, patients have the potential to become violent and angry. However, on the flip side, working as a psychiatric nurse can also be extremely rewarding. Just imagine watching as your patients walk out of the doctor’s office or hospital completely symptom free from a condition that had an immense effect on their previous quality of life. Witnessing that is sometimes all it takes for a psychiatric nurse to see that the efforts weren’t for nothing, and the current medical system in place does indeed work.

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