A Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice Registered Nurse (RN).
Many of the registered nurses that we are most familiar with work in the inpatient hospital setting; however RNs can work in a variety of settings. Registered nurses most often have undergone formal nursing training, graduated from an accredited nursing program, and have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX). Passing the NCLEX examination allows the Board of Registered Nursing to grant the nurse the title of “RN.”
Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, are also referred to as Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP), Nurse Practitioners (NP), or Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). All of the terms to describe these nurses vary by user.
PMHNP’s have undergone additional education and training after becoming RN’s. Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners typically undergo 2-3 additional years of school after attaining their Bachelors Degrees. Most PMHNPs have attained Masters Degrees; however some have also attained Doctorate degrees. This means after attaining their Masters degrees they have continued on 3-4 additional years to attain either a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) or attain a Doctorate of Philosophy in the Science of Nursing degree (PhD). In California, a Masters degree is the minimum requirement for all nurse practitioners who wish to practice (legally).
PMHNP’s are unique of other APRNs, in that they are required to complete all of the training required for other general Family Nurse Practitioners, as well as complete specialized mental health training. This assures that by graduation, PMHNPs are adequately qualified to care for the healthcare needs of the family. The "family" refers to the newborn, child, adult, as well as our family elders.
After graduation nurse practitioners must sit for another examination to be eligible to use the title of “PMHNP,” “NP,” or “APRN.” Passing this examination allows the nursing practitioner to become Board Certified (BC). Attaining board certification, grants the Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner furnishing privileges. Holding furnishing privileges, then grants the nurse practitioner eligibility to attain Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) certification. Once a Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner has attained DEA certification, they are ready to serve our communities as middle level providers or mid level practitioners. This means they are able to perform Registered Nursing care as well as offer most of the services offered by your primary care Physician.
In primary care offices, Nurse Practitioners are similar to Physicians Assistants in the methods that they deliver care. Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are able to care for primary care, behavioral, and/or mental care needs. This allows a bit more of individualized care than offered in primary practice for those who may have both primary and mental health conditions.
Often Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work in the outpatient setting; however as nurse practitioners there really is very little limitation on available work settings due to the wide degree of knowledge base that these individuals hold. Some Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work in acute hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care offices, operating rooms, nursing homes, and even rehabilitation facilities.
You may find that PMHNPs are able to help with health maintenance, health screening, diagnostic evaluation, lab interpretation, provide medication education, offer psychotherapy, prescribe medications, give referrals to other practitioners, and offer a more holistic approach than the care that is offered by a generalized practitioner or internal medicine physician.
Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are regulated by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and must follow practice compliance regulations of any physician when it comes to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Verifying licenses of a nurse practitioner in California is fairly easy and is a service made available to the public from the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs in collaboration with the BRN. Here's their website: www.rn.ca.gov/online/verify.shtml
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