Lotus_73

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Dec 16, 2016
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Hey guys,
I've been interested in the Mental Health field for as long as I remember, as well as the sciences. I'm currently a junior in college and am working towards getting a bachelors in Biology. I recently discovered that you can specialize within nursing to be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. However, I know very little about this topic and was hoping someone could answer some general questions and help guide me.

1) What would be my next step after completing my bachelors degree? I've read that you need a BSN in order to get into a master's degree in nursing. Does that mean my current bachelors degree would of been for nothing? Would getting an ADN be less advantageous than a BSN? Is there any way I can go to nursing school straight after I graduate college?
2) Once I get into an MSN, how do I go towards being specifically a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner? Is it something you choose to specialize in after you graduate from your masters or do you have to enter a specific MSN program that allows you to specialize in this area?
3) How long does it take to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (with and without the BSN)?
4) What are the job prospects for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Any help is widely appreciated :)
 

AnnoyedByFreud

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I guess my first question is - why do you want to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner? Your questions make you come off as someone who knows little about the nursing field, so I am wondering what you think it is to actually be a psych np?
 
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Lotus_73

2+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2016
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I guess my first question is - why do you want to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner? Your questions make you come off as someone who knows little about the nursing field, so I am wondering what you think it is to actually be a psych np?
You're right that I know little about the nursing field. Originally I was interested in becoming a psychiatrist and I did a lot of research on it. However, due to recent personal struggles i've decided that it's unlikely i'll go down that route and was looking for other options in the health care field. I've volunteered in the psychiatric unit of hospitals before and have really enjoyed it. I'm passionate about learning about mental health and how it affects people and I feel like becoming a nurse, who still has patient contact, would be a more fulfilling job versus an office job. But i've got my options open :)
 
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AnnoyedByFreud

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You're right that I know little about the nursing field. Originally I was interested in becoming a psychiatrist and I did a lot of research on it. However, due to recent personal struggles i've decided that it's unlikely i'll go down that route and was looking for other options in the health care field. I've volunteered in the psychiatric unit of hospitals before and have really enjoyed it. I'm passionate about learning about mental health and how it affects people and I feel like becoming a nurse, who still has patient contact, would be a more fulfilling job versus an office job. But i've got my options open :)
It's great that you're passionate about mental health. Being a nurse (RN) on a psych unit and being a psych NP are very different. I think you need to read up more on nursing to understans what you want to get into... allnurses would likely give you more information, but be warned, that forum has a lot of idiots on it.
 

pamac

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Have you thought about becoming a PA, and trying to land a job in mental health? With your biology degree, you'll probably have most of the prereqs for PA school. It's two years and if you plan things out well, you can get in around the time you graduate.
 
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precisiongraphic

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PAMAC has a good suggestion about PA school although I think NPs have the Psych mid-level market pretty well tied up. Annoyed by Freud's recommendation of allnurses is ok, but it can be a swamp.

I think you have two options but would say you should volunteer again in a psych setting if possible and talk to doctors, RNs, PAs and Nurse Practitioners about the various pathways before you make up your mind. And no, your bachelors degree is not a waste in either of the routes discussed below, quite the opposite.

Option 1: Finish your bachelors in Biology and apply to accelerated BSN programs (ABSN) which will get you a BSN/RN degree in 12-18 months. These programs are only available to those who have already graduated with a bachelors and who have the required prerequisites. Be advised that they are pricey but get you out and working faster, so you minimize the opportunity costs of the BSN (e.g. you get out faster and earn a salary faster so the cost is a trade-off). Then apply to Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) programs, which are masters-level degree programs to prepare you to work in the psych field as a mid-level provider, basically substituting for a psychiatrist in a community, clinical or hospital setting. PMHNPs are independent in many states. PMHNP programs are less common than other nurse practitioner programs but there are still many from which to choose.

You could also get a regular BSN (2 years) or ADN (2 years) and then go to a masters program. This would take longer but likely be cheaper.

Option 2: Finish your biology degree while completing the coursework for entrance into Physician Assistant (PA) school. These are also expensive but are an investment like in PMHNP where you can earn a substantial salary.
 
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pamac

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True. I know a psyche PA, and that person makes as much as a regular PA here would, which is the typical $90k ish per year with their several years of experience, while the PMHNP start around $140k. What a difference independent practice makes. But the nursing route can take quite a long time.

I'm personally very pro nursing, even with time factored in, but if someone has really good grades and can scate into PA school without delay at age 22, I think a case can be made for it. If someone can skate into an accelerated bachelors degree, and then quickly jump to NP, that's also a good route. The cheap route is what I did, and that's leapfrogging from ADN to BSN to NP. It's been very cost effective, but relatively long. I haven't minded it too much, but it feels like I'm a perpetual student.

Like the movie quote..."lots of people go to school for 12 years... They are called doctors". Or in my case, pretty much 16 years with my collection of degrees, and I'm not a doctor. But most of that 16 years was slow motion one or two online courses at a time after my first two degrees and nursing school, which were completed according to appropriate time frames. I really can't complain, though. I live life and work full time making decent money along with logging in to hammer out school work in time I would have otherwise spent watching TV. I can think of much worse ways to live.

All in all, a stepwise path through to NP can vary widely. There are even a few ADN to MSN NP programs out there. I think under most circumstances one would be looking at 2 years for the ADN, 2 for the BSN bridge, and at least 2 for the NP. Best option out there I think would be an accelerated 1 year BSN, then straight to a 2 year NP program to get the masters. I'd never do a DNP.
 

precisiongraphic

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There actually is a third option, one that some nurses frown upon which is a direct entry masters where you get the RN done in one year and go directly to the MSN which is done in year two, so very quick. This would only be two years and is good if you are certain that you'll like your specialty and only want to apply to one school, once, and get it over with. You go through without stopping. Some of these programs require O-chem, A&P, microbiology but others just require standard pre-nursing classes. All require a prior bachelors degree.

Lots of school choices - U South Alabama, Vanderbilt, MGH Boston, Seattle University, Emory, UNew Hampshire, St. Louis University - some in all regions of the country.

PAMAC's path of ADN to BSN to NP is way cheaper though, especially if you can find a hospital that will help pay for BSN and/or NP.
 
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Lotus_73

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Dec 16, 2016
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Hello guys! First of all thank you so much for your replies. I've had some unpleasant experiences in SDN before and am really thankful for all of your comments and suggestions. I apologize for my lack of knowledge in this field, the area where I live is very undeserved and I know few mental health practitioners in the health care field (both nurses, PA's, even doctors).

Sadly, my GPA is not very competitive. I'm hoping to do my best during these last two years, since i'm able to take a lighter course load and am done with most of my prereqs, as well as recently out of a dysfunctional relationship that impacted me during my first two years of college. I'm not sure what GPA one should have for a PA school, but i'm not very certain i'd get in. I did however have a couple of questions based on you guys' comments and if anyone could help me get a clearer understanding of the field i'd be most thankful.

Some of you guys mentioned that I could be a PA and get a job in mental health. What exactly would be the role of a PA in the mental health field (as in what tasks would they be "assisting" a regular doctor with)? Pamac mentioned a PMHNP makes 140k where they live, out of curiosity, where exactly do you live lol? There are various ADN and BSN programs near where I live that I think I could have a genuine shot getting into. I would however, like to minimize the cost of student loans obviously, so i'd prefer to do an ADN versus a full on BSN. Are there any significant disadvantages to going the ADN route, or does having a bachelors degree in science make up for it in the admission committees eyes for a masters program? If i'm understanding correctly (and feel free to correct me if i'm wrong), then I could finish my bachelors, do an ADN (2 years) and then go on to do a PMHNP for another 2 years, totaling 4 years after graduating from my college? Is that correct?

As always thanks for your help :)
 

precisiongraphic

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I'm not sure what PAs in mental health do (someone else more qualified should opine) but PMHNPs are working in clinics, hospitals and mental health organizations mainly doing medication management. PMHNPs are probably the highest earning NP specialty and pay would be $100,000/year or more in many markets. Most NPs make at least $80,000 so pay is pretty good. Rural areas may pay more for NPs because there just aren't enough providers. You should ask about NP demand in your area when you talk to people.

The problem with getting an ADN is that many hospitals won't hire ADNs instead preferring BSNs. This is not uniformly true all over the US but is something that you should talk to your RN, NP and MD contacts. In some markets ADNs are only able to get nursing home or non-hospital jobs until they earn their BSNs or get more experience. This is a significant disadvantage to an ADN. You stated: "I would however, like to minimize the cost of student loans obviously, so i'd prefer to do an ADN versus a full on BSN." Think of it this way - if you get your ADN in two years, then two years to get BSN then two years to get MSN/NP that is six years where you could be earning $100,000 that you are missing. Sure, you'll earn $50,000 or so with the ADN and say $70,000 with the BSN but you're delaying getting to that higher level. So only you can weigh that trade-off.

You stated "I could finish my bachelors, do an ADN (2 years) and then go on to do a PMHNP for another 2 years, totaling 4 years after graduating from my college? Is that correct?" Not entirely true. Nursing schools will require a BSN in between or an BSN/MSN combined program, which do exist but are less common. They won't use the Bachelors degree in biology as a substitute. But it's certainly do-able.
 

precisiongraphic

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For salaries, look on indeed.com and do a search for PMHNP for your location. In Seattle where I am, salaries range from $100,000 to $200,000 per year.
 
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Lotus_73

2+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2016
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I'm not sure what PAs in mental health do (someone else more qualified should opine) but PMHNPs are working in clinics, hospitals and mental health organizations mainly doing medication management. PMHNPs are probably the highest earning NP specialty and pay would be $100,000/year or more in many markets. Most NPs make at least $80,000 so pay is pretty good. Rural areas may pay more for NPs because there just aren't enough providers. You should ask about NP demand in your area when you talk to people.

The problem with getting an ADN is that many hospitals won't hire ADNs instead preferring BSNs. This is not uniformly true all over the US but is something that you should talk to your RN, NP and MD contacts. In some markets ADNs are only able to get nursing home or non-hospital jobs until they earn their BSNs or get more experience. This is a significant disadvantage to an ADN. You stated: "I would however, like to minimize the cost of student loans obviously, so i'd prefer to do an ADN versus a full on BSN." Think of it this way - if you get your ADN in two years, then two years to get BSN then two years to get MSN/NP that is six years where you could be earning $100,000 that you are missing. Sure, you'll earn $50,000 or so with the ADN and say $70,000 with the BSN but you're delaying getting to that higher level. So only you can weigh that trade-off.

You stated "I could finish my bachelors, do an ADN (2 years) and then go on to do a PMHNP for another 2 years, totaling 4 years after graduating from my college? Is that correct?" Not entirely true. Nursing schools will require a BSN in between or an BSN/MSN combined program, which do exist but are less common. They won't use the Bachelors degree in biology as a substitute. But it's certainly do-able.
Got it! I knew there had to be some difference between an ADN and a BSN but wasn't entirely sure. I know this is more of a case-by-case question, but would you happen to know if I was interested in doing a BSN, would some of my general credits from my biology bachelors be rolled over? So for example basic classes like English, Math, Gen. Bio, would I have to retake them or is there any way they would accept the ones from my degree?
 

precisiongraphic

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Yes, most universities I know will accept prior work for a new degree. I know several BSNs who had prior degrees and they just did the last two years of the BSN at the nursing school. That's pretty common as most degrees have general distribution requirements for the first two years of a bachelors. That's why I don't recommend an ADN degree if you already have a BS unless it's a location issue and there are no BSN programs where you live. In some areas, it's very hard to get into nursing programs as there aren't enough spaces so that would be the other reason to get an ADN.

And if you get an ADN and have a prior Bachelors, your ADN-to-BSN bridge will be shorter.

Got it! I knew there had to be some difference between an ADN and a BSN but wasn't entirely sure. I know this is more of a case-by-case question, but would you happen to know if I was interested in doing a BSN, would some of my general credits from my biology bachelors be rolled over? So for example basic classes like English, Math, Gen. Bio, would I have to retake them or is there any way they would accept the ones from my degree?
 
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pamac

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Mar 30, 2010
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I think you are getting pretty good information.

Where I live isn't as important as much as the fact that NPs that live in states where they are allowed to operate independent of physician oversight tend to do better financially than those in states where they are tied to physician supervision. Mental health is an area that can be really lucrative because there is so much need. My state is no different than many others in that there is tremendous demand, and not enough folks that can meet that demand. For physicians, psyche isn't one of the automatically high money makers like some of the other physician specialties unless you have the kind of acumen to turn it in to one for yourself. Because if that NPs have been able to step in and carve out a lucrative niche for themselves. It may not pay really well for physicians, but what physicians would consider to be low pay is what NPs and PAs would consider to be near the top of their pay scales.

I wouldn't chase PA school unless you had really good grades. No reason to spin your wheels chasing it. What I've always loved about nursing is that it offered checkpoints to reach that made it like you were succeeding in phases. After the first phase, which is getting your nursing degree, you can start working and from there you'll feel like you are always headed in the right direction.
 
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Lotus_73

2+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2016
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I think you are getting pretty good information.

Where I live isn't as important as much as the fact that NPs that live in states where they are allowed to operate independent of physician oversight tend to do better financially than those in states where they are tied to physician supervision. Mental health is an area that can be really lucrative because there is so much need. My state is no different than many others in that there is tremendous demand, and not enough folks that can meet that demand. For physicians, psyche isn't one of the automatically high money makers like some of the other physician specialties unless you have the kind of acumen to turn it in to one for yourself. Because if that NPs have been able to step in and carve out a lucrative niche for themselves. It may not pay really well for physicians, but what physicians would consider to be low pay is what NPs and PAs would consider to be near the top of their pay scales.

I wouldn't chase PA school unless you had really good grades. No reason to spin your wheels chasing it. What I've always loved about nursing is that it offered checkpoints to reach that made it like you were succeeding in phases. After the first phase, which is getting your nursing degree, you can start working and from there you'll feel like you are always headed in the right direction.
Thank you so much for your comments and advice. Yeah, I agree, I feel a much stronger pull towards nursing versus PA. One of the reasons I thought about nursing instead of med school is because I found that although I loved the clinical aspect of medicine and strive in those environments, I hated the more academic science aspect of it. I looked up the curriculum for nursing school's near me and it seems that although a lot of the classes are (obviously) science based, they also seem to be much more practical, which I got to admit sounds appealing.

A quick google search told me that there are about 18 states where NP's can practice independently. Sadly, Pennsylvania isn't one of them. I was hoping to move there once I graduated since i've got family there, but seems like the financial turnout is much better in say, Maryland where NP's can operate independently and is only a few hours from PA.

On a side-note, I was wondering if anyone knew some of the general tasks a PMHNP would often be in charge of? Google mostly mentioned overseeing consultations, prescribing pills, that sort of thing. If one had their own private practice, could they just conduct regular psych-evaluations like their doctor counterparts (Psychiatrists/Psychologists) or is their work more limited to caring for people in Mental Health institutions?

As always, i'm most appreciative of all the feedback i've been getting and it's helped me a lot :)
 

pamac

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I believe 24 states are independent practice states for NPs, and they add one or two on top of that every year, roughly. Some states might never become independent under current circumstances, but I could see that changing. One thing I would like to see is more rigorous sciences creep in to NP education, but having a biology degree will help you quite a bit down the line. I find it handy to have had a significant understanding of the sciences from my biology degrees. But what you am said about practical knowledge is one of the draws that appealed to me when I was deciding between NP and other paths. I do appreciate that the nursing degrees quickly had application value, whereas med school really required investment well before hand to finally get to the application. I do see it as a weakness in a way that I looked at things that way, though. It betrays a bit of impatientience on my part at the time that it weighed on me, but I'm happy with how things have turned out for me. Nursing certainly does feel more hands on very quickly, and it certainly feels easier to stay motivated because of that. In return for that the dividends are lower than medicine.
 
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Lotus_73

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Dec 16, 2016
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I believe 24 states are independent practice states for NPs, and they add one or two on top of that every year, roughly. Some states might never become independent under current circumstances, but I could see that changing. One thing I would like to see is more rigorous sciences creep in to NP education, but having a biology degree will help you quite a bit down the line. I find it handy to have had a significant understanding of the sciences from my biology degrees. But what you am said about practical knowledge is one of the draws that appealed to me when I was deciding between NP and other paths. I do appreciate that the nursing degrees quickly had application value, whereas med school really required investment well before hand to finally get to the application. I do see it as a weakness in a way that I looked at things that way, though. It betrays a bit of impatientience on my part at the time that it weighed on me, but I'm happy with how things have turned out for me. Nursing certainly does feel more hands on very quickly, and it certainly feels easier to stay motivated because of that. In return for that the dividends are lower than medicine.
I will definitely keep looking into the list of states where NP's can have independent practices. I'm not sure if you're a PMHNP, but on the off chance that you were or have heard from some of your colleagues, would you say it'd be difficult to get clients if I where to open up a private practice, since i'm not exactly a psychiatrist or psychologist which most people associate with private practices. You mentioned your process into choosing NP versus other career paths. Feel free to ignore this following question if you find it inappropriate or too private, but i'd love to hear how exactly you wound up deciding NP was the path for you and whether you ever regretted not going to medical school.
 

precisiongraphic

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I will definitely keep looking into the list of states where NP's can have independent practices. I'm not sure if you're a PMHNP, but on the off chance that you were or have heard from some of your colleagues, would you say it'd be difficult to get clients if I where to open up a private practice, since i'm not exactly a psychiatrist or psychologist which most people associate with private practices.
Search for posts from @Psych NP Guy who I believe is/was in private practice.
 
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future psych NP

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Oct 23, 2016
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I am a third year student in a combined BSN/MSN program (on the psych track) for people who already have a bachelors degree. If you want to do psych I would recommend you go for the NP rather than the PA. In my program the last two years (out of three) are entirely psych which is not something you will be able to do in a PA program. Also, as has been pointed out many states allow independent practice. I'm also not sure about the job market for psych PAs but there are a ton of NP jobs in my city. If you have any questions feel free to message me. Best of luck to you.
 
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Mad Jack

Critically Caring
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Hey guys,
I've been interested in the Mental Health field for as long as I remember, as well as the sciences. I'm currently a junior in college and am working towards getting a bachelors in Biology. I recently discovered that you can specialize within nursing to be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. However, I know very little about this topic and was hoping someone could answer some general questions and help guide me.

1) What would be my next step after completing my bachelors degree? I've read that you need a BSN in order to get into a master's degree in nursing. Does that mean my current bachelors degree would of been for nothing? Would getting an ADN be less advantageous than a BSN? Is there any way I can go to nursing school straight after I graduate college?
2) Once I get into an MSN, how do I go towards being specifically a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner? Is it something you choose to specialize in after you graduate from your masters or do you have to enter a specific MSN program that allows you to specialize in this area?
3) How long does it take to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (with and without the BSN)?
4) What are the job prospects for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Any help is widely appreciated :)
Go BS>accelerated BSN>psych NP, or consider a direct entry nurse practitioner program like those at Yale or Columbia which start off with an accelerated BSN then move you right into an APRN program.
 
Jan 7, 2018
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Hey guys,
I've been interested in the Mental Health field for as long as I remember, as well as the sciences. I'm currently a junior in college and am working towards getting a bachelors in Biology. I recently discovered that you can specialize within nursing to be a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. However, I know very little about this topic and was hoping someone could answer some general questions and help guide me.

1) What would be my next step after completing my bachelors degree? I've read that you need a BSN in order to get into a master's degree in nursing. Does that mean my current bachelors degree would of been for nothing? Would getting an ADN be less advantageous than a BSN? Is there any way I can go to nursing school straight after I graduate college?
2) Once I get into an MSN, how do I go towards being specifically a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner? Is it something you choose to specialize in after you graduate from your masters or do you have to enter a specific MSN program that allows you to specialize in this area?
3) How long does it take to become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (with and without the BSN)?
4) What are the job prospects for a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Any help is widely appreciated :)
DO you still have any questions regarding this?? I graduated as an RN, and worked as a psychiatric nurse. I am now a psychiatric nurse practitioner and can probably help answer questions.
 
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Lotus_73

2+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2016
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DO you still have any questions regarding this?? I graduated as an RN, and worked as a psychiatric nurse. I am now a psychiatric nurse practitioner and can probably help answer questions.
Hello! Thank you for reaching out to me :) I'd love to know what motivated you to choose a psychiatric NP versus other routes in the mental health field, like psychology or psychiatry.
 
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