How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

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Psychiatric nurse practitioners specialize in mental health care. As nurse practitioners, these specialists have at least a master's degree in nursing. Nurse practitioners specializing in psychiatric conditions have a nursing degree, have passed the nursing boards and have graduated from a Masters of Nursing (nurse practitioner) program.

  • Go to a 4-year college and get a bachelor's degree in nursing. If you have already gone to college, you may be eligible for an accelerated program that can grant you a nursing degree in 1 year.

  • Study for, and pass, the nursing licensure examination, also called the NCLEX-RN. This is a national examination that you must pass before becoming a nurse.

  • Apply for a master's in nursing at an accredited school in the state you would like to practice in. Choose one with classes targeted towards psychiatry and mental health care.

  • Take the certification exam for psychiatric and mental health nurses after you are done with your program. There are several certifications; the largest is the American Nurses' Credentialing Center's (see Resources).

  • Apply for jobs in the area and type of practice you would like to work. After obtaining your job, make sure to keep your certification and license up to date with the continuing education required by your state.

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