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.

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.

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.

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

Latest Psychiatric Nurse Job Listings

PositionCompanyLocationPosted
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner – Outpatient Mental Health Medication Manager – Twin CitiesUnitedHealth Group Plymouth, Minnesota US07/15/2024
For those who want to invent the future of health care, here’s your opportunity. We’re going beyond basic care to health programs integrated across the entire continuum of care. Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. This position provides medication management services using evidence-based practices that support client treatment, and facilitate safe, secure and therapeutic interventions.If you are able to work out of one of the 10 offices throughout … More
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI – Galveston, TXUnitedHealth Group Galveston, Texas US07/13/2024
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
Medical Director of Behavioral HealthNeighborHealth East Boston, Massachusetts US07/12/2024
The Medical Director of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) Department is responsible for the clinical operations and the clinical development of medical staff in both Psychiatry and the BHUC Department. The Psychiatry Department is a subsection of our BH department. This department is staffed with psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who support the health center patients with psychiatric care, consultants for primary care providers, and support the psychiatric … More
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI – Fort Worth, TXUnitedHealth Group Fort Worth, Texas US07/11/2024
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
Veterinarian | Renovation = an new opportunity for YOU, in Cincy!Kings Veterinary Hospital Loveland, Ohio US07/10/2024
More
Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner | Reliant Medical GroupUnitedHealth Group Worcester, Massachusetts US07/08/2024
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
Behavioral/Psychiatric Health Nurse Practitioner in Beautiful Northern CaliforniaSutter Health Sacramento, California US07/06/2024
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
Behavioral Health Care Coordinator/SPMI-Dallas, TXUnitedHealth Group Dallas, Texas US06/29/2024
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
Position
For those who want to invent the future of health care, here’s your opportunity. We’re going beyond basic care to health programs integrated across the entire continuum of care. Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. This position provides medication management services using evidence-based practices that support client treatment, and facilitate safe, secure and therapeutic interventions.If you are able to work out of one of the 10 offices throughout … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
Plymouth, Minnesota US
Posted
07/15/2024
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
Galveston, Texas US
Posted
07/13/2024
Position
The Medical Director of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) Department is responsible for the clinical operations and the clinical development of medical staff in both Psychiatry and the BHUC Department. The Psychiatry Department is a subsection of our BH department. This department is staffed with psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who support the health center patients with psychiatric care, consultants for primary care providers, and support the psychiatric … More
Company
NeighborHealth
Location
East Boston, Massachusetts US
Posted
07/12/2024
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
Fort Worth, Texas US
Posted
07/11/2024
Company
Kings Veterinary Hospital
Location
Loveland, Ohio US
Posted
07/10/2024
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
07/08/2024
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
07/06/2024
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
Dallas, Texas US
Posted
06/29/2024