Psychiatric mental health registered nurses (RN-PMHs) care for persons of all ages with mental illness, mental distress, and/or substance use disorders. They work directly with individuals, families, groups, and communities, to provide care for the whole person, assessing mental health and physical health needs. The RN-PMH develops a nursing diagnosis and plan of care, implements the nursing process, and evaluates it for effectiveness. RN-PMHs generally need good communication and relationship skills as well as a broad base of knowledge in the basic and behavioral sciences. More about what RN-PMH nurses do can be found in The Scope and Standards of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing (2014).
There are several educational paths for someone interested in becoming a registered nurse (RN): two year associates degree programs in nursing, three-year programs for a diploma in nursing (usually hospital-based), or four-year college or university bachelor's degree programs. These nursing programs provide a rotation in psychiatric-mental health nursing that introduces students to the specialty and assists them in determining if they would like to work in this area. Graduates from all of these programs are eligible to take the RN licensing examination after graduation (NCLEX-RN). Subsequently, RN certification is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Like most professions, the pay scale for an RN-PMH depends on many factors, such as level of education, years of experience, work setting and size, and geographic location. You can find up-to-date salary information for psychiatric mental health registered nurses here: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Psychiatric_Nurse_%28RN%29/Salary.
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