Pursuing a career as a psychiatric nurse will give you the training and expertise required to care for and support individuals suffering from mental health problems. This career encompasses areas such as neurobiological, psychosocial and nursing expertise. A psychiatric nurse specialises in areas such as mental health assessment, crisis intervention, patient assistance and medication and therapy within a psychiatric setting. They play a significant role within the mental health sector and provide various mental health services to individuals and communities as a whole. As a result, this career is highly valued in the healthcare sector.

Pursuing a career as a psychiatric nurse will give you a fulfilling and rewarding career. Additionally, you will have a high earning potential. As a psychiatric nurse, you can work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, clinics, and community mental health centres.

This piece will guide you through the steps to follow to pursue a career as a psychiatric nurse.

Steps to Start a Career as a Psychiatric Nurse

  1. Complete High School

    Firstly, you must complete your secondary education before you can start a career as a psychiatric nurse. Additionally, you must have good grades in science-related subjects. These subjects will give you a good foundation to study in tertiary institutions. You must have subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, etc.

  2. Obtain a Nursing degree

    Firstly, you need to obtain a degree in nursing. You can obtain degrees such as an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree or a diploma in nursing. These degrees will give you the basic foundation in nursing. However, the most recommended degree is the bachelor’s degree. This degree takes about four to five years to complete. This degree will give you the basic foundations of nursing and midwifery. Additionally, you will gain the license to practice as a nurse.

  3. Obtain a License as a Registered Nurse

    After obtaining your degree, you need to obtain a license. Therefore, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your registered nurse (RN) license.

  4. Gain Nursing Experience

    After obtaining your bachelor’s degree and license, you need to work as a registered nurse to gain clinical experience. Therefore, you must gain a minimum of one to two years of full-time nursing experience. You should gain experience in a psychiatric or mental health setting. You can work in places such as hospitals, clinics or any healthcare facility that offers psychiatric care.

  5. Obtain a Certification in Psychiatric Mental Health

    After gaining some nursing experience, you can obtain a certificate in psychiatric mental health nursing. This certificate will give you more credibility and knowledge to work as a psychiatric mental health nurse. Therefore, you must complete hours of psychiatric nursing practice and pass an exam to earn this certificate.

  6. Obtain Professional Certification

    You can gain professional certifications in this field. Acquiring professional certificates can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge. Additionally, it demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning and professional development.

  7. Join a Professional Association

    In this field, you must become a member of a professional association. This will give you the chance to network and connect with colleagues, and experts. Furthermore, you can have access to growth opportunities as well as career opportunities.

Types of Psychiatric Nurses

  1. Forensic Psychiatric Nurses

    These psychiatric nurses work in forensic settings such as jails, or detention facilities, tending to patients who need specific treatment because of their legal situation.

  2. Psychiatric Nurses (RNs)

    They offer a broad spectrum of treatment to patients suffering from mental health issues. Additionally, they also consult and educate patients with their families.

  3. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurses

    These nurses are experts in treating young patients with mental health issues. They offer a variety of services such as counselling, medication administration and teaching.

  4. Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs)

    These nurses are qualified to identify and treat mental health conditions. Additionally, They could offer psychotherapy, write prescriptions for drugs, and collaborate with other medical professionals to create treatment programmes.

  5. Forensic Psychiatric Nurses

    These psychiatric nurses work in forensic settings such as jails, or detention facilities, tending to patients who need specific treatment because of their legal situation.

  6. Psychiatric Nurse Educators

    These nurses are in charge of instructing and preparing other nurses. Additionally, they could provide instructional materials and programmes, as well as offer assistance and direction to other nurses in their treatment of patients suffering from mental health issues.

Skills for Psychiatric Nurses

  1. Interpersonal skills
  2. Critical Thinking skills
  3. Teaching skills
  4. Communication skills
  5. Ability to work under pressure

Universities to Study Nursing in Africa

  1. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  2. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  3. Makerere University, Uganda
  4. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  5. University of Ghana, Ghana
  6. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  7. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  8. University of Gondar, Ethiopia
  9. Cairo University Egypt
  10. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  11. University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
  12. North-West University, South Africa
  13. Alexandria University, Egypt
  14. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  15. Jimma University, Ethiopia
  16. University of Malawi Malawi
  17. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  18. Mansoura University, Egypt
  19. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  20. University of Zambia, Zambia
  21. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  22. Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania
  23. Assiut University, Egypt
  24. Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda
  25. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  26. Moi University, Kenya
  27. Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  28. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  29. University of Cape Coast Ghana
  30. University of Calabar, Nigeria
  31. University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  32. Beni-Suef University, Egypt
  33. Hawassa University, Ethiopia
  34. University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana
  35. Kenyatta University, Kenya

In Conclusion, pursuing a career as a psychiatric nurse can be a challenging venture. This is because this career path takes several years and requires a lot of hard work and effort. Therefore, psychiatric nurses must go through extensive training and complete certain education requirements before being able to practice in their field. However, this career path can give you a rewarding profession. Most importantly, this career will allow you to make an impact in the lives of people, both young and old.

Good luck!

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