PMHNP / Psych NP Jobs – Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Career Guide

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Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner CareersWhat 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


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

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Position Company Location Posted
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor LCMHC Social Worker LICSW $5,000 SIGN ON BONUS!! Elliot Health System Manchester, New Hampshire 05/01/2023
POSITION SUMMARY Provides outpatient psychiatric assessment and therapy to patients and their families in a co-occurring Partial Hospitalization level of care setting in order to maximize emotional, social and physical well-being of program participants. Working with a collaborative, multidisciplinary team, coordinates patient care through a continuum of care facilitating participant's recovery. Works closely with the Hillsborough County North Drug Court.Position ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) - Outpatient - *New office opens in August* LifeStance Health Rock Hill, South Carolina 05/01/2023
Is This You?Wanting to deliver high quality behavioral healthcare.Seeking work/life balance.Interested in growing professionally.What we offer Nurse Practitioners:Flexible work schedules. Telemedicine and in-person flexibility. Long-Term Incentive Program (Annual stock awarded).Generous 'above market' compensation with unlimited/uncapped earnings. Full benefits package: health, dental, vision, ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Opportunity Trinity Health Of New England - Trinity Health Of New England Medical Group - Saint Mary's Hospital Waterbury, Connecticut 04/28/2023
OPPORTUNITY HIGHLIGHTSTrinity Health Of New England Medical Group is seeking an experienced, certified, and licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner to join our established inpatient psychiatric care team at Saint Mary's Hospital located in Waterbury, Connecticut.This role consists of inpatient, consult services in the emergency department and on the medical ... More
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant with Psychiatry CAQ Winona Health Winona, Minnesota 04/27/2023
Winona Health is seeking a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant with Psychiatry CAQ to join our progressive team. Full-time (with a part-time option available) employed position joining an established team Psychiatrist, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, therapists and nurses Primarily adult patient base but will consider child/teen/adult certified Outpatient practice but a focus on an Intensive Outpatient Program ... More
Psychiatrist Winona Health Winona, Minnesota 04/27/2023
Winona Health is seeking a Psychiatrist to join our Psychiatry & Counseling team located in a Midwest college community along the banks of the Mississippi River. 8 a.m. 4:30 p.m. daily schedule, flexible schedule NO call expectations Competitive salary and sign-on bonus High level of collaboration with Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Mental Health Therapists, and primary care providers ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) OKC LifeStance Health Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 04/27/2023
Is this you?Wanting to deliver high quality behavioral healthcare.Seeking work life balance.Interested in growing professionally.What we offer Nurse Practitioners:100% Outpatient work in a Group Practice Setting. Generous 'above market' compensation with unlimited/uncapped earnings. Full benefits package: health, dental, vision, life, 401k (with match), paid parental leave, holidays, EAP and more. Collegial ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner LifeStance Health Hudson, Wisconsin 04/26/2023
We offer our Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners:Flexible work schedules: Full-time and part-time (20 hours week+) available - set your own schedule!70% on-site work & 30% telemedicine work 100% outpatient work. No nights, no hospital calls, no weekends. Compensation with unlimited/uncapped earningsFull benefits package: health, dental, vision, life, 401k (with match), LTIP (stocks), paid parental leave, holidays, EAP, CEU, and more. Collegial ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Opportunity St. Peter's Health Partners - Ellis Hospital Schenectady, New York 04/26/2023
OPPORTUNITY HIGHLIGHTSSt. Peter's Health Partners is seeking a full-time outpatient Consult-Liaison Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner on behalf of Ellis Hospital located in Schenectady, New York.Ellis Hospital is a 150-bed community hospital with inpatient Adult and Adolescent Psychiatric Units. The Ellis Psychiatry program has been helping adults overcome mental ... More
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