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Psychiatric Nurse Responsibilities and Job Duties

Job Descriptions April 12, 2013

Psychiatric nursing is a specialized field. Entering in this field requires a nursing degree, either an associate’s or a Bachelor of Science and becoming licensed as a registered nurse. With these credentials, a prospective psychiatric nurse is eligible to receive on the job training in a mental health facility or psychiatric hospital. However, a master’s degree is required to become a psychiatric nurse specialist or practitioner.

Educational Prerequisites

Psychiatric nurses are knowledgeable in a wide range of mental disorders, from depression to psychosis. They also have the flexibility to work in a variety of settings. A psychiatric nurse may work with patients in their private homes, a community health care center, in hospital outpatient service or a secure residential unit. A psychiatric nurse may choose to specialize in working with young children, the elderly, or with a specific disorder.

The role of a psychiatric nurse is to assist the patient in recovering from a mental illness or in finding ways for the patient to cope with it. The most important duty of the psychiatric nurse is to maintain a positive attitude and provide a therapeutic relationship with the patient, building the patient’s self-confidence and desire to overcome the mental handicap. Commonly used psychotherapy interventions include cognitive behavior therapy and family therapy.

Another therapy that may be used is spiritual interventions when a patient has reached a spiritual crisis. The purpose of the intervention is to give the patient a sense of hope, meaning and fulfillment. Spiritual interventions involve more of being there for a person, providing empathy, understanding and support, than it does in trying to solve a particular problem. It is a process of helping the patient work through self-doubts, pain and despair.

Some psychiatric patients have violent episodes. Psychiatric nurses are trained to identify the risk factors in a patient’s illness and assess when the patient may be at risk to self or to others. They learn to respond to distressed patients calmly, without showing distress, themselves.

Job Description of a Psych Nurse

The nurse is responsible for the well-being of the patient’s physical needs, such as hygiene and proper diet, as well as mental duress. Other duties include ensuring the correct administration of medications, monitoring the results of medicated and non-medicated treatments, preparing care plans, and working with the families of the patients. As part of behavior treatment, the psychiatric nurse may encourage patient activities that reflect the patient’s interests. This could include sports, drama, hobbies or the arts and crafts.

The psychiatric nurse works with staff members to organize social events that will help build the patient’s social skills. Other socialization processes include participation in group therapy, either individually or with other health professionals, and in outpatient care.

It takes sensitivity and understanding to become an effective psychiatric nurse. Patients in need of psychiatric therapy may be suffering from a debilitating disease, as well as a mental disorder. Whenever possible, the psychiatric nurse draws the family in, educating the family on the patient’s mental illness, and ways of helping them cope and add to a successful therapy. The psychiatric nurse seeks to empower the patient in a collaborative away, through positive reinforcement and by encouraging the patient to draw upon his or her own internal resources. The psychiatric nurse does not view the patient’s condition as permanent, but one where recovery is the ultimate goal.

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2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked among the Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months and a master’s degree in 14-24 months.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
4 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
  • Gives students the option to enroll at any time and begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
  • Has an average freshman retention rate of 77.3 percent.
  • Ranked #39 in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Reports
  • Has more than 50,000 alumni including several astronauts, CEOs, and 32 generals.
  • Offers a special tuition rate for active duty, selected reserves, National Guard service members and their spouses.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 94% of students in the 2014-2015 academic year received some form of financial aid.
  • Student to faculty ratio is 13:1, with an average class size of 15.
  • 104 full-time faculty members, and more than 71% of them hold the highest degree in their field.
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses

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