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Masters in Nursing Mental Health

Psychiatric and mental health specialization is one of the most common options offered by graduate programs in nursing for nurse practitioners. Advanced practice nurses are needed in this field to fill the gap between psychiatrists and psychologists, the doctors that work in mental health facilities, and the mental health aides, LPNs and RNs that provide the daily staffing. A Masters in Nursing for Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree is an option for nurses who are interested in both the medical and counseling side of mental health. While a MSN in this field does not lead to a counseling license, many nurses who work in the field become adept at working with patients and family members.

This area of concentration has some academic requirements unique to the field that aren't found in most nurse practitioner programs. Psychopharmacology classes are mandatory in most programs, indicating the importance of drug use - and abuse - in mental health diagnosis and treatment. There are usually courses in intervention, both with patients who are struggling with addiction and with families where denial and codependence are an obstacle to treatment. Assessment, diagnosis and treatment are part of the academic regimen, because nurse practitioners working in a psychiatric or mental health treatment facility will be called upon to make those decisions in consultation with or in the absence of a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.

There may also be training in the mental health problems that seniors commonly confront. Depression can cripple an elderly person, and often it is difficult to differentiate between dementia and short term memory loss. Some Masters in Nursing for Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner graduates find work that allows them to focus on children or more likely, adolescents who are having emotional or psychological difficulties. In some instances a graduate with this degree may find an employment opportunity with a school or school district that wants to reinforce the counseling staff or administrative staff who must manage behavioral problems within the student population. In some graduate programs for nurse practitioner this specialization requires additional training in the form of a certificate.

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