For existing and aspiring practitioners within the nursing profession, this field presents several specialties and roles that can suit several interests, skills, goals, personalities and living conditions. One of the most demanding yet exciting roles you can follow as a nurse is the path of a mental health or psychiatric nurse.
However, just like any career path today, you must go the extra mile to thrive. If you’re already practicing as a mental health nurse and are wondering if an advanced qualification will move your career forward, then read on to understand the benefits that you can gain by pursuing one.
Requirements of a mental health nursing career
To become a mental health nurse, there are a number of specific educational and certification requirements that you must meet to practice. In the United States, these requirements include:
To meet the educational requirements to become a mental health nurse, you can first earn an Associate Degree or a Bachelor’s. For the former, you’ll typically have to accompany it with sufficient training or certification to put you on the right path to suitable roles. However, with a Bachelor’s, you’ll meet the minimum requirement to find a job as a registered nurse.
A Master’s degree in mental health can be instrumental in upgrading your career and giving you the opportunity to practice on a more independent level. Pursuing a doctorate degree will provide you with even more opportunities.
While you’re earning your degree, particularly at the first level, you will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through internships, job shadowing and other forms of practical training. As a mental health nurse in particular, your training will be in the area of psychiatric care. You’ll learn the basics of psychological therapy, administering psychiatric medicines and handling patients, all of which you’ll gain academic knowledge on during your program.
There are several professional skills that mental health nurses need to develop to help them through their careers. While you can gain hard skills through education and training, soft skills are the personality traits and qualities you pick up from your experience and working with others. Some essential skills required for a thriving career are effective communication, problem-solving, empathy, time management, attention to detail, teamwork, flexibility and resourcefulness.
Benefits of a master’s degree to a mental health nurse
Working as a mental health nurse for many years is possible without earning a Master’s degree. However, for those who decide to take the extra step, there are several benefits that you can gain from investing your time in pursuing a Master’s qualification. If you’re wondering what the benefits of a Master’s degree are for you, some of these include:
Higher paying roles
This is one of the most essential benefits of pursuing higher qualifications in your career. For instance, when you earn an online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from an accredited university such as the American International College, you can gain the necessary theory, research and clinical skills required for higher-paying roles that may be limited to those with at least a Master’s degree.
It’s important to note that earning a higher degree does not automatically provide a way to these high-paying jobs. However, it gives you a better chance when compared to those without one. You’ll still have to show you’re competent through your skills and experience.
To build expertise
When you earn a Master’s degree in mental health nursing, your learning is more streamlined to the path you have chosen, and you can build a stronger foundation of expertise. This expertise will make fulfilling your duties much easier.
You’ll attain a higher level of confidence, a better understanding of what is required of you, provide a high standard of care and gain the opportunity to pursue more advanced roles that will automatically build upon your expertise. Attaining this academic foundation can ensure you find it much easier if you decide to further your study or pursue another form of professional education.
Looking at the realities of the employment world that we live in, it’s crucial to find different ways to secure the job you have for the long run. Earning a Master’s degree in mental health nursing can enhance your job security. Advanced degrees typically give you an advantage in the employment market over those without those credentials. An advanced degree shows an employer that you’re valuable and will go the extra mile to invest in yourself to be more effective on the job and in the organization generally.
As a final point, every professional hopes to reach a point where they can access better opportunities. Better job opportunities will increase your chances of improving your quality of life and achieving the other goals you aim for. Earning a Master’s will often give you opportunities to progress through your career, exposing you to different aspects within the field that may turn out to be interests or specializations for you.
These advanced degrees also often give you a better shot at leadership and management positions when the opportunities arise.
One of the fascinations of mental health and psychiatric nursing is the number of roles and work settings that you can work in. Whatever role you’re presented with, you’ll have a variety of situations and challenges to handle on a daily basis. To ensure you’re adequately equipped to handle these situations and reap the benefits of an advanced degree, you can take up the challenge and earn a Master’s degree. The opportunities that lie ahead are truly enormous.