Psychiatric mental health nursing is a specialty within nursing. Psychiatric mental health registered nurses work with individuals, families, groups, and communities, assessing their mental health needs. The PMHN develops a nursing diagnosis and plan of care, implements the nursing process, and evaluates it for effectiveness. Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PMH-APRNs) offer primary care services to the psychiatric-mental health population. PMH-APRNs assess, diagnose, and treat individuals and families with psychiatric disorders or the potential for such disorders using their full scope of therapeutic skills, including the prescription of medication and administration of psychotherapy. PMH-APRNs often own private practices and corporations as well as consult with groups, communities, legislators, and corporations.
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) earn masters or doctoral degrees in psychiatric-mental health nursing. APRNs apply the nursing process to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals or families with psychiatric disorders and identify risk factors for such disorders. They also contribute to policy development, quality improvement, practice evaluation, and healthcare reform. The practice of the psychiatric-mental health nurse (PMHN) as a Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner is considered an advanced specialty in nursing. APRNs practice as Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) or Nurse Practitioners (NPs). The doctoral degree for the advanced clinical practice of psychiatric nursing is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). APRNs also earn additional degrees (PhD and EdD) which prepare them to work as professors, researchers, or administrators. PMH-APRN practice authority varies by state.