The Top 6 Tasks Performed by Psychiatric Nursing

Psychiatric nursing is a highly individualized calling. A nursing degree can provide many wonderful opportunities for those who obtain one. If you feel called to the field of nursing you know you will experience rewards that you won’t get in any other career. Nurturing and caring for those who are sick gives you purpose and adds meaning to your life. Being able to provide relief from pain-physical and emotional-is one of your many “superpowers”.

For today’s nurse there is no end to the direction in which your profession will lead you. You can choose any number of specialties, practice in a hospital setting, a private clinic, nursing facility, school, or a doctor’s office. You can choose to work with children, the elderly, or acute and traumatic care. You may have an interest in psychology and ultimately opt to become a psychiatric nurse.

Psychiatric Nursing is Unique in Many Ways

If you’re thinking about a rewarding career in psychiatric nursing, you know you’ll face many different challenges and encounter a unique set of circumstances surrounding your patients than that which many of your fellow nurses will ever deal with in their chosen specialty or arena. You will also be rewarded in unique ays as well. A career i psychiatric nursing has specific tasks and should you be contemplating this path, you may wonder what those tasks might be.

Those in psychiatric nursing work closely with patients experiencing mental health issues. This encompasses a wide range of patients and environments. You may work in in-patient facilities, state-run hospitals, VA facilities, Outpatient clinics, schools for mentally challenged, and even prisons. You shifts can vary according to the environment in which you work. Hospitals and nursing homes will offer the typical 12-hour shifts, while schools and the like may warrant a regular 40 hour week. Some in-patient facilities may ask you to stay on campus for your shifts.

6 Top Duties in Psychiatric Nursing

In addition to the unique type of environment offered those in psychiatric nursing, there are certain tasks you’ll perform on a regular basis. While many are much like those tasks required by all nurses, regardless of specialty, some of the duties you’ll be assigned are unique to psychiatric nursing.

  • Evaluate Mental Health Needs-In psychiatric nursing you will be required to perform an assessment of your patient in order to determine their needs. The assessment may take much longer than a standard medical-surgical assessment and will include lab tests, observation, psychological testing, and may even require you to make home visits in some instances.


  • Design a Care Plan-You’ll be required to come up with a care plan based on your assessment.
  • Coordinate Psychotherapy-Find the appropriate course of psychotherapy for your patient’s needs, based on your assessment and care plan.
  • Provide Personal Care-The type of personal care you provide your patient in a mental health setting is similar to that you would provide in any medical facility. You’ll help with matters of hygiene, nutrition, sleep, and any physical ailments the patient is experiencing. You will conform your care to the patients specific needs.


  • Coordinate with Physicians, Therapists, Counselors, Family Members-Psychiatric nursing requires you to coordinate with all care providers, professional, medical, and family members. You will need to ensure your patient is getting the best possible care available, and be the point of contact to make sure everyone is on the same page.


  • Administer Medications-Much like in a medical setting you will be required to administer meds. Of course, these medications are much different and the psycho-physical reactions and side effects warrant keen observation.

The Growing Field of Mental Health

Of course, as in any medical field, there are varying degrees of certification. While it is not necessary to obtain your BSN in order to work in the field of mental health, it does help ensure employment. And remember, you can always use your BSN to grow your degree and pursue becoming an NP or PA, both extremely needed and sought-after in the field of psychiatric medicine.

The mental health field is growing by leaps and bounds and newly graduated nurses can pretty much count on employment if this is their chosen specialty. You will be rewarded every day for the comfort and care you provide to a vulnerable set of patients. Consider a career in psychiatric nursing and you will make a significant difference in improving the life of your patients.

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