Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

psychiatric-nurse-practitionerA psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP) is a nurse who can act as a primary mental health care provider and who fills many–but not all–of the functions of a doctor. PNPs have strong medical backgrounds and experience in psychiatric settings.

Training and Requirements

At minimum, a psychiatric nurse practitioner must have a bachelor’s degree and become a registered nurse. They must then obtain a master’s or doctoral degree. PNPs must take board examinations in psychiatric nursing to become licensed, and typically must complete ongoing continuing education requirements established by their state’s board. There is an ongoing nursing shortage that extends to PNPs.

PNPs are governed by many of the same rules as psychiatrists. They must, for example, adhere to strict confidentiality standards and correctly diagnose illnesses prior to prescribing medication.

Role in Psychiatric Care

PNPs practice in a variety of settings, but are most commonly found in hospitals, nursing homes, and public health departments. They have significantly more autonomy in decision-making than either registered nurses or licensed practical nurses and can dispense medication to psychiatric patients. Some work in nurse practitioner offices or fill in for psychiatrists. Psychiatric nurse practitioners can and do provide psychotherapy, in addition to managing the medical side of psychiatric illnesses. They may also offer advice and support to people and their families just as a psychiatrist or other medical doctor might.

PNP care is typically less expensive than the care of a psychiatrist, and patients may have to wait shorter periods of time to obtain an appointment with PNPs.

References:

  1. About psychiatric-mental health nurses. (n.d.). American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Retrieved from http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3292
  2. Psychiatric nurse practitioner. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.discovernursing.com/specialty/psychiatric-nurse-practitioner#.WW0ge4jyuM9
  3. What is an NP? (n.d.). American College of Nurse Practitioners. Retrieved from http://www.acnpweb.org/what-np

Last Updated: 07-17-2017

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  • Kayla

    Kayla

    December 7th, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    I’m highly suicidal and everyday I’m surprised when I don’t do it. I’m 15. I self-harm. I don’t have a therapist or anything but if i want to get help, im not sure where to go. Do i go to the ER?

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    December 7th, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    Thank you for your comment, Kayla. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about what to do in a crisis at https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Vikki B

    Vikki B

    July 7th, 2016 at 11:03 AM

    I am searching for a counselor/therapist at a facility/clinic that also has a Psychiatric Nurse practioner & psychiatrist for help for my anxiety disorder /panic attacks I am in Dupage County, Illinois

  • Kathi

    Kathi

    September 18th, 2016 at 8:31 PM

    I have severe anxiety and depression. I am looking for someone who can help me with this and who takes my health insurance. I had a psych NP when I was pregnant w/my son, but we no longer live anywhere near her office.
    I know I need some help in coping & learning how to live…I can’t go on like this.
    Have been told by dr he thinks EMDR would be good for me as well.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    September 19th, 2016 at 10:18 AM

    Hi Kathi,
    Thank you so much for your inquiry and interest in working with a therapist. You can search for a mental health professional near you on the GoodTherapy.org Directory, here:https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html

    If you click “Advanced Search,” you may specify that you’re looking for a therapist to help with anxiety and depression.

    Please keep in mind that GoodTherapy.org is an exclusive directory. If you have trouble finding a professional in your area, don’t be discouraged–it may mean you’ll have better luck doing a Google search or asking for a referral from a trusted health professional, such as your doctor.

    Wishing you the very best in your healing journey, Kathi! ♥

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • George m

    George m

    October 2nd, 2016 at 11:57 PM

    He needs inpatient treatment care. Long t. he doesn’t want to take care. Of his self. sometimes he said he what to kill his self

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