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Mental Health Nurse
Mental health nurses work in a variety of fields, however; the main aspect of the job is working in various mental health facilities. There are two types of mental health nurses, those who are considered basic, and those who are advanced. The way to determine the type of mental health nurse is the degree earned. An Associates or Bachelors degree is considered acceptable qualifications for the basic level while a Masters degree is generally required for an advanced position since the mental health field is considered a specialty in the nursing field.
Basic Mental Health Nurse
The main role of the basic level mental health or psychiatry nurse is assessing various mental health needs of not only individuals but also communities as a whole as well as the family of those who have mental health disorders. In order to become qualified for this position, you must earn either an Associates degree in nursing (ASN) or Bachelors in nursing (BSN). The Associates degree generally takes about two years to complete, although a Bachelors will last about four years unless you utilize the various distance learning programs from one of the top online universities where you can earn your BSN in 3 ½ years. If you already hold an ASN, you can always go back to college to earn your BSN, although if you already have your ASN, your BSN should only take an additional two years to complete. Once you begin working as a mental health or psychiatry nurse at the basic level, you can expect to earn a salary similar to that of an RN in any other department which is about $35,000 to $60,000 per year, depending on your experience as well as the facility you work in. In addition to your college education, you may also be required to partake in various continuing education courses depending on both your state and the facility you work in to remain on the cutting edge of what is going on in the mental health field.
Advanced Level Mental Health Nurse
The advanced level mental health or psychiatry nurse is considered a specialty field in nursing; therefore, you must earn a Masters degree in nursing with a concentration in psychiatry to become qualified for this position. Once you have earned a BSN, then you can go back to college for 1 ½ to two years to earn an online Masters degree. This degree will give you more opportunities for various advanced positions and boost your salary to the $70,000 to $120,000 per year. In the advanced position, you will be qualified to do the same tasks of the basic nurse plus assessments, diagnosis and treatment of mental health patients.
In this position, you are considered a nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist which gives you more experience and training in the mental health field. Similar to the basic mental health nurse, you will be required to take various continuing education courses while you are working to ensure you have the latest knowledge in technology and various conditions and treatments in the mental health field. These courses are generally paid for by your employer and many can be taken through distance learning as well, allowing you to complete the courses on your own schedule.