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

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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 2023 Listings

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Position Company Location Posted
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Opportunity St. Joseph's Health Greater Syracuse area, New York US 12/04/2023
OPPORTUNITY HIGHLIGHTSSt. Joseph's Health has an excellent full-time employment opportunity for a licensed and certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner to join our Behavioral Health team located in Syracuse, New York.The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner provides direct care functions including, but not limited to history and physical exams, daily ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner – Children's Outpatient Opportunity St. Joseph's Health Greater Syracuse area, New York US 12/04/2023
OPPORTUNITY HIGHLIGHTSSt. Joseph's Health has an excellent full-time employment opportunity for a licensed and certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner to join our Children's Outpatient team located in Syracuse, New York.The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner provides direct care functions including, but not limited to history and physical exams, daily ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Providence Portland, Oregon 12/02/2023
Seeking a Per Diem, on-call Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner to join the dedicated and compassionate group of providers at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Enjoy the benefits of working with a multi-disciplinary group in a supportive environment, and experience all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer from the beautiful and welcoming city of Portland. Candidate must be a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) Inpatient, ... More
Nurse Practitioner Swedish Seattle, Washington US 12/02/2023
Join Swedish Medical Group's Behavioral Health team as a full-time Ambulatory (outpatient) Psychiatric nurse practitioner in Seattle, Washington. This is a great opportunity to join one of the top medical organizations in the Pacific Northwest while working alongside a well-established and multidisciplinary team of behavioral health professionals in a team-based environment. Enjoy being part of a strong, mission-driven group while providing highly impactful services to patients through a ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Providence Anchorage, Alaska US 12/02/2023
Providence Alaska Medical Center is seeking a compassionate and board-certified Psychiatric nurse practitioner to join its team full-time. This role provides vital psychiatric services in an interdisciplinary setting as part of a substance use and co-occurring disorder treatment program. As such, you will be providing medication management services as well as mental health and substance use/misuse treatment to both adolescent and adult patients. This is an opportunity to join a dynamic behavioral ... More
Psychotherapist LICSW, LMHC, or LMFT Pacific Medical Centers Seattle, Washington 12/02/2023
Pacific Medical Centers' is seeking a full-time Psychotherapist (LICSW, LMHC, or LMFT) join its established outpatient team in a role that offers incredible flexibility in the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington. You will be part of a robust behavioral health team that provides both short-term and long-term therapy services to individuals, families and groups. Candidates will have the flexibility to either work completely in the clinic itself or take on a hybrid role with a mix of on-site ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Providence Anchorage, Alaska US 12/02/2023
Seeking a dynamic and dedicated nurse practitioner with Psychiatric training and experience. This part-time role provides Psychiatric services in an in-patient setting. Providence Alaska Medical Center and a well-respected Psychiatric practice invite you to join a dynamic Behavioral Health team that is dedicated to serving the community of Anchorage. Take advantage of this great opportunity to provide meaningful work and enjoy outstanding quality of life in the beautiful and welcoming city ... More
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner The Queen's Health Systems Honolulu, Hawaii US 12/02/2023
The Queen's Health System is seeking a full-time Nurse Practitioner to join an outpatient-based Psychiatry and Mental Health practice in the beautiful community of Honolulu. This is purely an outpatient role where you will largely focus on medication management. Ideal candidates will be eager to join a highly compassionate and driven team that's focused on serving an underserved patient population. Join The Queen's Health System and help improve the health and wellbeing of patients from ... More
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