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Why Should I Consider Pursuing the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track?

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Why Should I Consider Pursuing the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track?


If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’ve already gained a few years of experience and have started to think about your next steps in nursing. For many, the nurse practitioner (NP) route is an excellent way to expand one’s scope of practice within the profession. However, certain things are slightly different in NP school as compared to pre-licensure registered nurse (RN) nursing programs. One key difference is that the prospective student must choose among a variety of NP specialties. As a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), I noticed that the Psych NP route is the least popular NP track. Today, this track has become a more intriguing choice amongst prospectives and NPs seeking additional certifications. With many Americans struggling to gain access to quality mental health care services, PMHNPs are equipped for this role in today’s healthcare landscape. Here are five reasons why I think the Psych NP track is worth considering:

1. High Demand

As a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, you will experience great job security due to the lack of psychiatric practitioners in this country. While there is a fair amount of mental health professionals, there are only a handful of people that can prescribe psychotropic medications (MD, DO, NP, CNS, PA). 

2. Expanded Scope of Practice

As a psychiatric registered nurse, you are able to function as a key member of an interdisciplinary team and assist with the plan of care for each patient. However, as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, you become the leader of the interdisciplinary team and are in charge of the patient’s assessment, diagnosis, medication management, and ultimately their disposition. Having an expanded role within a patient’s plan of care helps to give you added job satisfaction and boosts your long term career prospects. 

3. Salary & Earning Potential

Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioners are some of the highest paid nurses within the profession. Due to the demand, salaries tend to be higher than other nursing specialties and this trend will more than likely continue. While a high salary means nothing if you are not truly satisfied with what you do for a living, it is nice to know that you can be adequately compensated for your efforts as a PMHNP.  

4. Work in Different Settings

As a PMHNP, you can work in many different settings. You can deploy your skills with patients of all ages and within setting such as the ER, outpatient, inpatient, urgent care, community health clinics, private practice, nursing homes, and more. Being able to work in different environments allows you to be exposed to different parts of psychiatry and gives you a greater chance to find your niche within the specialty. 

5. Ability to Advocate for Patients Outside the Hospital 

With our increased knowledge, expertise, and platform, it is our responsibility as PMHNPs to advocate for our patients – many of which don’t have a voice or the ability to speak up for themselves. Because of the mental health crisis, we have been thrusted to the forefront of the and have a moral obligation to advocate for our patients in and out of the hospital setting. With great responsibility comes great satisfaction, as we take pride in small victories made in regard to inducing a higher degree of mental health awareness. By pursuing the psychiatric nurse practitioner track, you put yourself in a prime position to make an impact within the mental health landscape, which leads to a truly gratifying feeling.

I understand that the Psych NP track may still make some nurses uneasy. If you are considering this rewarding path and have a few questions to help with your decision, email me I will be happy to assist.

Opinions expressed by NPSM contributors are their own.

Kojo Sarfo, DNP, PMHNP-BC

Dr. Kojo Sarfo, DNP, PMHNP-BC is a Ghanaian American Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, entrepreneur, and writer. He graduated from The University of West Alabama with his Associate’s Degree in Nursing and then obtained his Bachelor’s in Nursing from Western Governors University. He went on to obtain his Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree from Augusta University with a specialty in Psychiatry. He currently has three years of teaching experience as an adjunct faculty professor with the College of Nursing at Augusta University/East Central Regional Hospital. He has a passion for treating and caring for individuals with severe mental health conditions and developmental disabilities. He is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Abrantie & Signora, LLC, which is a clothing company dedicated to spreading positivity and mental health awareness for teenagers and college students. His first book, “You Already Won”: A Journey Through Education, Nursing, and Mental Health Awareness will be available on Amazon.com on September 29th, 2019. Originally from Accra, Ghana, he currently resides with his parents and siblings in Augusta, Georgia. He enjoys working out, traveling, and keeping up with his favorite NFL team, the Tennessee Titans.

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