MS PMHNP (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner) '07
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.
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.
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.
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.
Go for it! Ask questions, observe, and get your feet wet!
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.