Here are some tips on how to become a psychiatric nurse. This isn’t a career path for just anyone. It takes a particular temperament and a certain set of qualifications. It can, however, be a very rewarding profession.
There are different academic paths that a psychiatric nurse can take. You can take a two year program leading to an associate degree in nursing. Or you can take a three year program for a diploma in nursing. You can also take a four year program for a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
If you would like to study part-time, there are options for this as well. It will take longer but at least you can continue to work during the process. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, you can check if your nursing program can be shortened. This way your path to registration as a nurse will be quicker.
Take the test
Once you complete your academic requirements, you can take the licensure exam. Be sure to prepare well for this. Some people take review classes. Other people choose to study on their own.
Once you have taken and passed the test, you’re considered a registered nurse. Remember though that you’re still only part of the way there. Psychiatric nurses benefit from additional certifications. The higher your certifications, the more options you have in terms of employment.
Build up your experience
When you’re applying to be a psychiatric nurse, relevant work experience will be helpful. It might be difficult to accumulate this experience at first. But there are many options for doing so. You need to think of work which involves tasks similar to psychiatric nursing.
So you can volunteer to work in a local clinic. Demonstrate that you have what it takes to work with a variety of patients. You can also do part-time work at a local substance abuse center. Show that you can work with people in stressful situations.
Get an advanced degree
If you want to move further up the career ladder, it could help to get an advanced degree. This could be a master’s degree or a doctoral degree. Make sure that it is focused on psychiatric nursing. This additional credential will allow you to apply for higher positions.
It will also allow you to branch out further. For example, if you would like to also work as an educator, these degrees will help. This way, you can share what you know about psychiatric nursing. You will be passing on your knowledge and experience to future nurses.
The path of a psychiatric nurse can be a difficult one. Expect to have a lot of stressful days and nights. But if you keep this advice in mind, you’ll be in a good position. Beef up your credentials and experience, and go after those jobs.