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Why utilize a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Many times our patients don’t understand exactly how a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner can support them with their mental health issues and what services Nurse Practitioners provide.

One of the first questions we receive at SMHWI is, Are Nurse Practitioners qualified to treat me?

A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse specializing in Psychiatric Care across the life span. To become a Nurse Practitioner, an undergraduate degree in nursing is required and successful completion of the state board exam to become a Registered Nurse (RN). After becoming a RN, a Master’s Degree (MSN) or Doctoral Degree (DNP) is obtained to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). A PMHNP can work in inpatient, outpatient, emergency or community-based settings to provide Psychiatric Care. In Arizona, a PMHNP is able to assess, diagnose and prescribe medication to treat mental health conditions. PMHNP’s treat a wide variety of mental health conditions including anxiety, panic attacks, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, substance use disorders, PTSD, Schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. A PMHNP will work closely with you to help develop an individualized treatment plan that meets your specific needs.

Some of the typical, daily tasks of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner are:

• Diagnosing patients for mental disorders, as well as being able to differentiate if a patient is experiencing a psychological or physical-based disorder
• Documenting a patient’s past history and evaluating how that may have led to a mental disorder, such as family genetic history or past trauma
• Laying out a mental health treatment plan for recovery, including taking medication and attending counseling
• Prescribing medication and making sure a patient keeps up with their daily medication schedule
• Monitoring the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment plan
• Collaborating with a patient’s health team to potentially modify their care plan

Weekly or monthly tasks of a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner can include:

• Meeting with patients’ treatment team to discuss developments
• Providing ongoing medication management services
• Coordinating care with outside providers

What are the benefits of meeting with a MH Nurse Practitioner?

• Most Nurse Practitioners have already done rotations of multiple placements in MH facilities and have extensive experience in the MH field
• They are under the supervision of the practice Medical Director
• Usually, they have more availability for scheduling appointments
• They are required to provide a thorough psychiatric assessment and utilize a variety of assessment tools to complete this process
• They can get reimbursed from insurance companies just as a physician can.

SMHWI currently has four MH Nurse Practitioners on our team, all of which are very qualified to treat most mental health conditions. Some MH Nurse Practitioners have certain specialties which can help you select a specific provider and SMHWI lists those specialties within their Bio’s on the Our Staff page.

Blog Contributors:
Samantha Willen, DNP, PMHNP-BC
Samantha Willen, DNP, PMHNP-BC is a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Samantha graduated from Oregon State University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She then went on to receive a Master’s in Science, Entry to Nursing in 2013 and Doctor of Nursing Practice in Psychiatric/Mental Health in 2018 from the University of Arizona.

Jose A. Rodriguez, PMHNP-BC
Jose A. Rodriguez, PMHNP-BC is a board-certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Jose graduated from Oregon Health & Science University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He then received a Master of Science in Nursing with the specialty of Psychiatric Mental Health in 2021 from Frontier Nursing University. Jose specializes in treating patients throughout their lifespan and is passionate about aiding military veterans suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Jose’s work experience includes 9 years as a critical care nurse and crisis nurse in Boise, Idaho. Jose has a total of 18 years in the United States Army Infantry with six of those years in active duty.

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