The mental health nursing field is one of the most vibrant and thriving industries in the country. With an increased focus on self-care and treatment, society has turned to mental health professionals for guidance on the psychological challenges faced by so many. Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, or PMHNPs, are often on the front line in this battle for a healthier way of life. If you're hoping to pursue a career in this field, consider these five benefits of becoming a PMHNP:
Mental health NPs are in higher demand than ever before. As stigmas surrounding mental health slowly disappear, more and more people are looking to health professionals for help. The Affordable Care Act has increased the number of people with insurance, and in turn, the demand for mental healthcare has risen. While it may take some time to become certified, PMHNPs will have their pick of positions once they finish their education.
To become a PMHNP, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. Then, students must pass the NCLEX-RN test, also known as the National Council Licensure Examination. Using tools like Exam Edge's practice tests can help ensure you receive the best score possible on your NCLEX. Completion of a master's program in nursing or a doctoral degree program is also necessary. 500 supervised hours of clinical experience cap off the requirements for PMHNPs.
With such demand for qualified PMHNPs, it's no surprise that professionals are paid well for their services. According to Indeed, the average salary tops $120,000 per year for PMHNPs in the United States. Like with any job, you may start at a lower than average annual salary, but it's easy to see how lucrative the field can be after a few years of experience.
Many psychiatric nurses begin their careers in small, rural health clinics. In those settings, salaries may be lower than average, but the cost of living may mirror the pay rate. Move into a larger hospital system, though, and you'll see your income increase. While salary data is sometimes elusive, it's worth doing your research to understand your worth so you can negotiate the highest possible offer.
No matter which patient population you're most interested in serving, chances are good that you'll find a position that fits your goals. Opt to work at a mental health unit of a hospital and you're likely to serve adult patients suffering from acute mental health episodes. Choose a position at a mental health-specific treatment facility and you'll work to manage chronic health challenges. You can even specialize in the pediatric or geriatric mental health field, allowing you to work with specific groups struggling with mental illness.
Because demand for adult psychiatric nurses is so high, you'll have your pick of what kind of job you'd like, and where. With such a wide variety of career paths available, PMHNPs have the freedom to pursue the kinds of jobs in which they're most interested.
One of the most frustrating parts of being a nurse is handling the strange hours and unpredictable schedule that are so often required of the job. Fortunately, PMHNPs have the option to work community-based clinics where business hours are the norm. By pursuing a job in such a setting, you'll have your nights and weekends free. The health benefits of sticking to a traditional 8-5 job are significant, too.
Of course, for those who prefer a little variety in their work schedule, hospital PMHNP positions are also available. Though the hours there may be less predictable, weekend and overnight shifts in such settings can allow you to accrue more hours over fewer days. This leaves you with more free time, even if your days off aren't reserved solely for the weekend.
By no means an easy field to enter, mental health nursing can be as rewarding as it is challenging. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five people will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime. By working hand in hand with people struggling with their mental health, you offer a lifeline in what can be a bleak situation. Seeing patients learn, grow and thrive because of your advice and treatment is as rewarding as it gets.
Mental health nursing isn't for everyone. It requires a great deal of empathy, patience and a willingness to help people through the darkest times of their lives. Strong communication skills are needed for this field. PMHNPs must also be comfortable collaborating with other healthcare professionals to ensure holistic treatment for their patients. Extensive knowledge about medications, side effects and interactions is also necessary for psychiatric nurses.
If you're eager to pursue a career helping those with mental health challenges, Exam Edge has the resources you need to succeed. Whether you're studying for college entrance exams or in need of a boost before your PMHNP test, our online practice tests are a great way to prepare. Get started today with a free sample practice exam!