The Role of an LPN in Psychiatry


Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) play important roles in the fields of mental health and psychiatric care. As an LPN working in mental health and psychiatry, you may be employed in a psychiatric hospital, clinic or residential treatment program. Your duties might include dispensing medications, monitoring vital signs, preparing patients for exams and maintaining patient charts.


  • Individuals interested in becoming an LPN in psychiatry would first begin by enrolling in an accredited LPN training program. These programs are offered at community colleges, high schools, vocational schools and hospitals. It may take one to two years to complete, depending upon whether you are pursuing an associate degree or diploma. After graduating, you would then qualify to take the licensing exam in your state. Passing of this exam is required for all LPNs in any field and in any state.

Training in Psychiatry

  • Although there is no formal training for LPNs in the area of psychiatry (there is however for nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing), LPNs interested in the field of psychiatry should make themselves familiar with the various diseases and disorders associated with mental health. This includes an understanding of various addictions as well as skill in dealing with difficult behavior. A knowledge of medications, mental health treatments and procedures is also very helpful. Training and certification in the administration of intravenous (IV) medications may also be necessary and advantageous in mental health or psychiatric hospitals. This training is available to LPNs at various community colleges offering allied health and related programs.

Working Conditions

  • Licensed practical nurses interested in psychiatry may find employment in state facilities, prisons, hospitals and mental health clinics. Lots of standing, walking and lifting may be required on the job. Additionally, you should be able to work well in high pressure, crisis or volatile situations. Licensed practical nurses perform duties under the supervision and direction of registered nurses. They may also work side by side with other mental health and clinical professionals such as psychiatrists, social workers and therapists.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Licensed practical nurses working in the area of psychiatry may have a variety of duties. Some responsibilities might include administering injections and other medications, taking and recording vitals, phone triage and treatment assessments. Scheduling appointments, taking patient histories and supervising nursing assistants also may be a part of an LPN's duties. Along with nursing assistants, LPNs may also be asked to help in patient restraint and daily hygiene such as showering and dressing.

Future and Growth Opportunity

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for LPNs are expected to increase over the next decade. Additionally, the BLS projects an increase in the need for related occupations in the field of psychiatry, such as psychiatric aides. Consequently, LPNs may be in greater demand in mental health and psychiatric care. LPNs working in psychiatry may also have the potential for growth opportunity and promotion. Experienced LPNs may be promoted to charge nurses where they oversee the work of both nursing assistants and other licensed practical nurses. Some may even go on to pursue further education to become a psychiatric nurse or nurse practitioner.

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