PMHNP / Psych NP Jobs – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Career Guide 2023

What is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner / Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP)?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners also known as Psychiatric NPs/Psych NPs or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP), are registered nurses with advanced education and training in diagnosing and treating individuals with mental health conditions. They also help people dealing with difficult life circumstances, grief, and family issues. A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner will address physical and mental health concerns, and offer treatment options based on in-depth physical and mental assessments. Interventions can include individual or group counseling, psychotherapy, and the prescribing of medication.

Psychiatric NPs often work closely with other health professionals, creating an interdisciplinary treatment plan to ensure patients receive the many benefits of holistic treatment. Psychiatric NPs can meet with patients individually or in a group setting. Depending on their area of expertise, these practitioners may work in private practice, behavioral health clinics, residential treatment centers, or alongside general practitioners working with adults or children. Psychiatric NPs also work in public health and correctional facilities.

Depending on a Psychiatric NP’s chosen specialty, he or she may work with children, teens, geriatric patients, or other populations. Some specialize in specific psychiatric diagnoses or substance-abuse problems, while others offer family counseling services.

What is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner responsible for?

As mental health specialists, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are responsible for treating patients while spreading awareness about mental health issues and promoting overall wellness. They educate individuals, families, and communities in an effort to advocate for those affected by mental illness, and to destigmatize mental health conditions.

According to the AANP’s annual survey of nurse practitioners, the average NP sees 15 patients a day. Here is a video of a day in the life of a psychiatric nurse practitioner if you are interested in learning more about the day to day work on a PMHNP.

Where does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner work?

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can choose to work with adults, adolescents, or children in a variety of settings based on his/her specialty. Many Psychiatric Nurse work in private practice or behavioral health clinics. Other settings include residential treatment centers or general practitioners’ offices. Working alongside other health professionals often means creating an interdisciplinary treatment plan to address patients’ overall health and wellness.

What’s the difference between a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and a Psychiatrist?

Both are highly-respected, high-pressure and rewarding careers with high earning potential but there are some key differences:

  1. Education and Training: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed medical school and then pursued a residency in psychiatry. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, on the other hand, are registered nurses who have obtained a Master’s or Doctoral degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing.
  2. Prescriptive Authority: Both Psych NPs and Psychiatrists can prescribe medications to their patients, but the extent of their prescriptive authority varies. Psychiatrists have a wider range of prescribing authority, as they are medical doctors and can prescribe all medications. PNPs have a more limited prescribing authority and are typically only able to prescribe certain medications based on state laws and regulations.
  3. Scope of Practice: Psychiatrists and Psych NPs have different scopes of practice. Psychiatrists are able to diagnose and treat mental illnesses, as well as provide therapy and medication management. Psychiatric nurse practitioners can also diagnose and treat mental illnesses, but their focus is typically more on medication management and less on therapy.
  4. Billing: Psychiatrists are typically reimbursed at a higher rate by insurance companies than psychiatric nurse practitioners. This is due in part to their higher level of education and training.
  5. Collaboration with Other Healthcare Professionals: Both work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, such as social workers and psychologists, to provide comprehensive care to their patients. However, Psychiatrists may also work closely with medical doctors and other specialists to address the physical and mental health needs of their patients.

Can a PMHNP work remotely?

Yes, there are many opportunities for a PMHNP looking to work remotely. Here are some of our latest remote opportunities.

The pandemic accelerated remote working and in particular telehealth by a decade and this has brought about a lot of opportunities for healthcare workers looking to enjoy the flexibility of working remotely and mental health is no exception.

The lack of commute facilitates a better work-life balance and huge cost savings however the role of a PMHNP is a challenging and often stressful one; the loneliness of working remotely can add to this. Additionally there may be fewer support and developmental opportunities vs working in a setting but this may change as more providers get better with supporting and training their remote workforce.

How to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

For those interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner there are a number of steps you must complete before you can practice.

Education Requirements

Degree

In terms of formal education, you will need to complete an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college. Most psych NPs pursue a Bachelor of Science (BSN) in Nursing, though some pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. These two courses of study are incredibly different, but both offer a path to becoming a certified psych NP.

If you pursue a BSN in Nursing, you will take anatomy, physiology, and psychology classes. You will learn how to assess patients and how to interpret lab results. You will also need to become an RN so that you are eligible to pursue the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.

If you decide to pursue psychology, you will take courses in abnormal psychology, psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and research methods. You will also need to gain clinical experience by volunteering or working in a mental health setting.

Following completion of your nursing degree you will be eligible to take the registered nurse examination – NCLEX-RN. The exam is standardized across all states but the process and paperwork can vary. Learn more with this helpful guide from Nursing Licensure.

Apply to a PMHNP program

There are two bodies that regulate PMHNP programs; the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Learn more about psychiatric nurse practitioner programs.

Complete clinical hours

You will need to complete a minimum of 540 precepted clinical hours supervised by a physician, counselor or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Certification and Licensing

Upon completion of your studies and your supervised clinical hours, you will need to take and pass the ANCC administered examination. The exam consists of 150 questions across 5 categories; psychotherapy and related theories, ethical and legal principles, scientific foundations, diagnosis and treatment and advanced practice skills. Here are some sample exam questions, a good test prep site and a library of useful resources.

Depending on your state, you may also need to pass other tests and examinations, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

These tests and examinations are designed to ensure you comprehensively understand how to diagnose, treat, and manage mental illnesses safely and effectively. The tests are incredibly challenging, and you must study for many hours to pass them.

Continuing Education Requirements

Once certified, you must maintain your certification by completing continuing education credits each year. You can earn credits by attending conferences, courses, and workshops on mental health. You should also find a mentor that can provide guidance and support.

These continuing education requirements help you stay up-to-date on the latest treatments, research, and practices in psych NP. It also allows you to develop your skills and stay on top of any changes or developments in the field. It also allows you to provide the best possible care for your patients.

Psych NP salary – How much money does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner earn?

Like with many healthcare professions, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners salaries vary greatly depending on geographical location and demand, as well as level of education, training, and experience. Income also differs based on the Psychiatric Nurse’s specialty and work setting.

Experienced psychiatric nurse practitioners get paid an average of $139,976 per year.

See our psychiatric nurse salary guide for more detailed insights

Is PMHNP a good career?

Being a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is a demanding but ultimately very rewarding career.

There is certainly strong demand so you can be assured of a “job for life”. The BLS is projecting a 17% increase between 2019 to 2029 in jobs for nurse practitioners specializing in psychiatric care.

The pay is excellent, as noted above, with an average salary of nearly $140,000. That being said it is a career which requires considerable initial training and experience and a significant commitment to ongoing education.

As you might expect, the role requires strong communication and interpersonal skills. You’ll be helping patients with often very challenging conditions which will require a great deal of compassion. Additionally you may be working alongside other care professionals to support a patient so the ability to work as a team is also important.

Finally, due to the variety of opportunities available and the high demand for qualified psychiatric nurse practitioners, you will often have the luxury of choice when it comes to selecting an employer which suits your lifestyle. For example, you may earn more in a hospital setting or as a traveling mental health nurse but the trade off will be often longer and irregular hours.

What other career options are available to a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

In addition to practicing in treatment centers and doctor’s offices, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners can work in public health or correctional facilities. Family counseling, substance abuse programs, and consulting for large corporations are also options. Some Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Jobs are researchers, always eager to learn about breakthroughs in mental health diagnoses and treatment, and share their knowledge with colleagues and the general public.

See also; Psychiatrist Career Guide

Latest Psychiatric Nurse Job Listings

PositionCompanyLocationPosted
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI- Central Austin, TXUnitedHealth Group Austin, Texas US05/19/2024
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about ensuring … More
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI-Weatherford, TXUnitedHealth Group Weatherford, Texas US05/19/2024
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about ensuring … More
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI – Smith County, TXUnitedHealth Group Tyler, Texas US05/18/2024
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about ensuring … More
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI – Gregg County, TXUnitedHealth Group Longview, Texas US05/17/2024
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about … More
Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner | Reliant Medical GroupUnitedHealth Group Worcester, Massachusetts US05/16/2024
As a part of Optum, the largest network of medical groups in the nation, Reliant Medical Group is seeking a Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner to join our Behavioral Health Division as an Integrated Provider. At Optum, we are transforming healthcare nationally while providing Physician-led care locally. Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. At Reliant Medical Group, Nurse Practitioners work alongside Primary Care Providers in a fast … More
Full-Time Ranked Faculty, Practice-Education Track (non-tenure), Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse PractitionerJohns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland US05/15/2024
Status: Full TimeJoin the Johns Hopkins community as a full-time faculty member and an academic leader at the School of Nursing. Our faculty members are committed to excellence in research, teaching, practice, and service, and they are recognized nationally and internationally as experts in their disciplines. Scholarship is embedded in all elements of the role of full-time faculty members: research, practice, and … More
Behavioral/Psychiatric Health Nurse Practitioner in Beautiful Northern CaliforniaSutter Health Sacramento, California US05/06/2024
Sutter Medical Group (SMG) seeks to hire a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) to join our Outpatient Behavioral Healthcare team in Sacramento, CA. 2-3 years of experience in Behavioral Health. Experience in medication management and psychotherapy. Sutter Medical Group is expanding its Behavioral Health services to include an outpatient department, we are recruiting for a PMHNP with a minimum of 2-3 years of experience … More
Interventional Radiologist IR – No State Income Tax – Nashville, TNRadiology Alliance Nashville, Tennessee US05/01/2024
POSITION SUMMARY Radiology Alliance is seeking afull-time Interventional Radiologist who is well rounded and comfortable with IR procedures such as drains, venous work, and biopsies in addition to Diagnostic Radiology interpretations.The ideal candidate willbe the face of the practice in the reading room of the hospital, performing a mix of the procedures listed below and diagnostic imaging (DI) interpretation … More
Position
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about ensuring … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
Austin, Texas US
Posted
05/19/2024
Position
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about ensuring … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
Weatherford, Texas US
Posted
05/19/2024
Position
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about ensuring … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
Tyler, Texas US
Posted
05/18/2024
Position
At UnitedHealthcare, we’re simplifying the health care experience, creating healthier communities, and removing barriers to quality care. The work you do here impacts the lives of millions of people for the better. Come build the health care system of tomorrow, making it more responsive, affordable, and equitable. Ready to make a difference? Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. You push yourself to reach higher and go further. Because for you, it’s all about … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
Longview, Texas US
Posted
05/17/2024
Position
As a part of Optum, the largest network of medical groups in the nation, Reliant Medical Group is seeking a Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner to join our Behavioral Health Division as an Integrated Provider. At Optum, we are transforming healthcare nationally while providing Physician-led care locally. Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. At Reliant Medical Group, Nurse Practitioners work alongside Primary Care Providers in a fast … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
Worcester, Massachusetts US
Posted
05/16/2024
Position
Status: Full TimeJoin the Johns Hopkins community as a full-time faculty member and an academic leader at the School of Nursing. Our faculty members are committed to excellence in research, teaching, practice, and service, and they are recognized nationally and internationally as experts in their disciplines. Scholarship is embedded in all elements of the role of full-time faculty members: research, practice, and … More
Company
Johns Hopkins University
Location
Baltimore, Maryland US
Posted
05/15/2024
Position
Sutter Medical Group (SMG) seeks to hire a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) to join our Outpatient Behavioral Healthcare team in Sacramento, CA. 2-3 years of experience in Behavioral Health. Experience in medication management and psychotherapy. Sutter Medical Group is expanding its Behavioral Health services to include an outpatient department, we are recruiting for a PMHNP with a minimum of 2-3 years of experience … More
Company
Sutter Health
Location
Sacramento, California US
Posted
05/06/2024
Position
POSITION SUMMARY Radiology Alliance is seeking afull-time Interventional Radiologist who is well rounded and comfortable with IR procedures such as drains, venous work, and biopsies in addition to Diagnostic Radiology interpretations.The ideal candidate willbe the face of the practice in the reading room of the hospital, performing a mix of the procedures listed below and diagnostic imaging (DI) interpretation … More
Company
Radiology Alliance
Location
Nashville, Tennessee US
Posted
05/01/2024