How to Make a Career in Psychiatric Nursing?

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Career in Psychiatric Nursing

Mental illnesses are experienced by a majority of our population but at the same time have become a taboo that is unspoken of. With the worldwide lockdown, awareness about mental health has increased with famous personalities like Deepika Padukone, Jim Carrey, and Demi Lovato sharing their own stories of depression. In such a scenario, education in mental health and psychiatry has increased. This is because more professional help like nurses, experts, researchers, doctors, etc must be prepared to handle severe mental illnesses. One such important job is that of a Psychiatric Nurse who specializes in Psychiatric Nursing to care for patients who suffer from psychological disorders and mental illnesses. 

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What is Psychiatric Nursing?

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Psychiatric nursing is a profession in which a nurse specializes in taking care of mentally-ill patients. The illnesses can be of any severity- neurodevelopmental disorders, schizophrenia, mood disorders, addiction, anxiety disorders, psychological disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, suicidal tendencies, paranoia, self-harm, etc.  

In 1913, John Hopkins University in the US started the very first psychiatric training specialisation course in the nursing syllabus. These were the times of World War which saw millions of POWs (Prisoners of War) being displaced, tortured, and mentally exhausted.  

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What does a Psychiatric Nurse do?

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What a psychiatric nurse does is very different from what a regular nurse. Since the illnesses are curable through environmental and mental peace and medication, a psychiatric nurse is responsible for creating a therapeutic relationship with the patient. The job role in psychiatric nursing is given below:-

  • Medication: A psychiatric nurse takes care that whatever medication the patient is allotted is being consumed on time.
  • Reliable: It is very important that a psychiatric nurse is present at all times when the patient might need him/her. Mental illnesses can be received very different responses from the patient. 
  • Communication: What a doctor can’t do is give their entire time to one patient to communicate casually to know more of a patient’s mind. Since a psychiatric nurse is taking care of only a few patients, she can offer more time to mingle and know more about a patient. 
  • Confidentiality: You are expected to maintain complete secrecy about the patient’s details and mental illnesses to avoid any discomfort for the patient and their family. 

A career in psychiatric nursing can be very mentally challenging, therefore it is required that you don’t overstep your boundaries with the patient for your own and the medical institute’s sake. 

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Top Universities Offering Psychiatric Nursing Abroad

Qs World University Ranking 2022 released the list of top universities offering nursing courses:

Top Nursing Schools  QS World University Ranking 2022 (Overall)
University of Pennsylvania  13
King’s College London  35
John Hopkins University  25
University of Washington 85
Manchester University  27
University of California, San Francisco
Yale University  14
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 100
University of Southampton 77
Duke University  52

Top Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Colleges in India

  • AIHS Bangalore
  • AIIMS Delhi
  • AIN Guwahati
  • AINE Guwahati
  • Amity University
  • CUK Karnataka

Eligibility Requirements 

If you want to be a psychiatric mental health nurse, at training level, you need a BSc in Nursing. With a BSc in Nursing, you won’t be able to prescribe medication or practise on your own. You will need to work under a physician. 

To start a career in psychiatric nursing as an APRN, you need a master’s degree in Nursing. Post graduation, you will also need a board certificate for a license to practise as an APRN. 

Career Opportunities in Psychiatric Nursing 

After you have specialised in psychiatric nursing, there are a lot of career opportunities for you in this space. You can work in a physician’s office, medical institute, government postings or they work individually with their patients. As an individual wanting a career in psychiatric nursing, you can go for any of the below positions:

  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse: If you have an undergraduate degree in Nursing with a specialisation in psychiatric nursing, you can go for this position. It involves treating people with mental health problems.
  • Advanced Practice Resident Nurse (Mental Health Psychiatric): The only difference between the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse and APRN (MH) is that APRN (MH) is a more common title given to trainee psychiatric nurses. 
  • Advanced Practice Resident Nurse: To apply for an APRN, you are required to have a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing. What an APRN (MH) cannot do, an APRN is allotted the work. They specialise in certain fields- resident midwives, clinical nurse specialists, registered certified nurse anesthetists, etc.

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Average Salary 

The salary of a psychiatric nurse depends upon how aware are the citizens of a particular country. More awareness will lead to more diagnosis and therefore larger demand for a psychiatric nurse. These are the average salaries of a psychiatric nurse in the popular countries:

Country  Average Salary of a Psychiatric Nurse (INR)
UK  2.07 lakhs per month
USA  5.61 lakhs per month
India  27,120 per month 
Australia  3.67 lakhs per month
Canada 4 lakhs per month 

Tips to Increase Your Psychiatric Nursing Salary

Here are some of the tips to increase your psychiatric nursing salary:

  • Special skills– You can always pursue further specialisation post an undergraduate degree in anxiety, mental abuse, depression, schizophrenia, etc.  
  • Telehealth services– Another substitute for a psychiatric nurse if not working in hospitals is to take up a job in the telehealth services. For India, the mental health helpline provided by the Health Ministry is 080- 46110007. 
  • Training– Your training period after graduation is very important. This is when you know what is needed for you to become a good psychiatric nurse. You will be taught the do’s and don’ts, made to attend to less severe mentally ill patients and given a chance to communicate and work under all kinds of specialities.  

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How long does it take to become a psychiatric nurse?

It takes 3 to 4 years of education and 1-2 years of training to become a psychiatric nurse. 

What undergraduate degree do you need to be a psychiatric nurse?

You need a BSc in Nursing with a specialization in Psychiatry to start a career in psychiatric nursing. 

What is the average salary of a psychiatric nurse in the UK?

The average salary of a psychiatric nurse is INR 2.07 lakhs per month in the UK.

Do I need a license to start my psychiatric nursing practice?

Yes, you need to pass an exam to gain the license to be an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse).

A career in a psychiatric university is very lucrative if you study abroad. Universities in UK and USA offer advanced nursing specialties to medical students. Wish to study in the top universities abroad and earn 10 times more than what you would earn in India? Call Leverage Edu at 1800-572-000 and take your first counselling session from our experts for absolutely free!

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