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Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing|College of Health Sciences

Nursing Careers:
Psych Nursing


Nancy McGee, APRN-BC

  • BSN '05

  • MS PMHNP (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner) '07

What drew you to this career?

Early on in my nursing career I was drawn to the psychiatric nursing specialty. Throughout my studies I frequently enrolled in psychology courses because I was fascinated by them. And when I learned that I could marry nursing and psychology, I was sold.

How did you prepare for it?

First and foremost, I prepared for my career as a nurse. Before I was certain of my specialty interest, I knew that I wanted a firm foundation in basic nursing skills. I knew this would be important regardless of the field of nursing I chose and would allow me the freedom of flexibility if I were to change my mind in what area of nursing I wanted to work. I worked as a CNA throughout nursing school and this experience was invaluable in building my confidence as a nurse. Immediately after graduating from nursing school I worked on a surgical unit at the local hospital -- even though by then I was fairly certain I wanted to settle in psychiatric nursing. Again, I felt this foundation was important. I prepared for my psychiatric nursing career by taking additional courses in psychology during my undergraduate studies. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, but was also able to complete a minor in Psychology with these extra classes. This certainly wasn’t a requirement for a psychiatric specialty, but I do believe it helped give me a better understanding of the psychiatric nursing specialty.

What do you like the most about this career?

My favorite part of my job is truly the patients I work with. Every day I feel privileged to share in the healing journey of the clients I care for.

What are the biggest challenges?

Psychiatric nursing has many unique challenges. Things are rarely black and white in psychiatric nursing. Unlike medicine, there are very few tests and diagnostic confirmations. The diagnosing of a psychiatric client is a true art. While this is one of my greatest challenges, it is also one of the things I love most about the specialty as it continually challenges me.

What advice would you have for a student interested in this field?

Go for it! Ask questions, observe, and get your feet wet!

Extra info about Nancy McGee:

Nancy is currently working part-time as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at the University of Wyoming's Student Health Service. She also has a part-time private practice in the community of Laramie.

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Nancy McGee

"The diagnosing of a psychiatric client is a true art. While this is one of my greatest challenges, it is also one of the things I love most about the specialty as it continually challenges me." McGee participated in the school's "Speed mentoring" session in 2012.

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