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Overview of Psychiatric Nurse Job Duties

Job Descriptions July 8, 2013

Psychiatric nurses are responsible for taking care of patients that have some type of disease or illness where they are hospitalized for either a temporary or extended amount of time. These individuals must help their patients through this experience by overseeing their recovery, which involves both traditional therapies and social interaction.

What Type of Background Do They Need?

In order to be a psychiatric nurse, an individual must be either a registered nurse or an advanced practice nurse who focuses solely on the institutional care of those with mental disorders. Psychiatric nurses perform their services typically in psychiatric care units at medical centers or large-scale hospitals. While they share much of the same duties and responsibilities that other registered nurses or advanced practice nurses have, their work is focused more on patients that have mental or behavioral conditions. Their main focus is on their interactions with the patients, befriending them along the way to make progress.

According to Johnson & Johnson, psychiatric nurses must know much about mental disorders from depression to schizophrenia. Besides this, these individuals have to be comfortable working in all sorts of settings. Some days, the nurses will tend to see patients in their homes, while other times they will strictly work out of a hospital unit. Of course, there are all different types of psychiatric nurses. Some specialize in handling young children or elderly patients, while others would rather centralize on one particular disorder.

Overall Duties

According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, psychiatric nurses must be in charge of taking care of the well-being of their patients. This includes physical needs like making sure that patients are eating properly and practicing good hygiene. Psychiatric nurses must ensure that patients are administered the medication they need.[2] These nurses even work closely with the families of patients. There have been numerous cases where psychiatric nurses take part in activities that pertain to the patient’s interests like arts and crafts or sports.

What Types of Therapy Are Employed?

There are many therapy methods that psychiatric nurses use on their patients. However, the most common ones employed here are cognitive behavior therapy and family therapy. Although lately, “Advances in Psychiatric Treatment” is reporting that spiritual interventions are being used on those with mental disorders. This therapy is known to help those who are dealing with some kind of spiritual dilemma. Spiritual interventions are meant to give patients hope, as nurses provide support and understanding while discussing their specific condition. However, through these therapies, nurses often notice that patients are experiencing violent breakouts. In these cases, psychiatric nurses must take a look at the risk factors pertaining to the illness and decide whether or not the patient is a risk to self or others.

What Type of Attitude Should They Have?

Since psychiatric nurses are helping patients get through their mental illness or at least cope with what they were handed, they must maintain a positive attitude daily. The nurse’s relationship with patients needs to be therapeutic, where the patients feel at ease around them. Similar to this, the nurses should encourage their patients to not be defined by their mental handicap. These nurses must promote self-confidence and perseverance in challenges along the way.

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