Do nurse practitioners have a role in psychiatry?
Teresa Kay Jones, A.P.R.N., Steven Lippmann, M.D.
There is a shortage of providers for psychiatric services in America (1). Nurse practitioners (NPs) can deliver mental health services to help overcome the inadequate number of psychiatrists (1); yet, there are too few educators to train nurses at filling this gap (2). Most psychiatrists trust that NPs are effective in providing psychiatric services to patients (2). NPs often aspire to clinical and leadership roles in healthcare (3). The increasing cost of medical care, with the desire for inexpensive therapies may be in conflict with current training models (4).
Providing mental health interventions by NPs in emergency departments is effective at increasing patient comfort and decreasing emergency staff workload (5). This indicates a resounding ‘Yes’, psychiatric NPs do have a role in helping people during emergencies. However, the systems established for effectively utilizing NPs in this role currently are inadequate (5). There are too few NPs to meet the current needs of our psychiatric population (4).
The nursing profession is adaptable; nursing education can expand to better cover personalized healthcare delivery gaps. Hopefully, psychiatric training of NPs in greater numbers can fill this need in American medical practice (4). More acceptance of NPs by the public and physicians would be helpful.
Psychiatric NPs can deliver a positive role in mental healthcare delivery. Training more psychiatric NPs can be met by expanding their education to fill these expanded roles (3).
1) Hogan BK (2012). Expanding the scope of psychiatric nursing practice: Devaluing the essence of psychiatric nursing. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33(9); 635-638.
2) Schwartz RH, O’Laughlen MC, Kim J (2017). Survey to child/adolescent psychiatry and developmental/behavioral pediatric training directors to expand psychiatric-mental health training to nurse practitioner. J of Amer Assn of Nurse Practitioners, 29(6); 348-355.
3) Gray A (2016). Advanced or advancing nursing practice: what is the future direction for nursing? British Journal of Nursing,25(1), 8-13.
4) Delaney KR (2016). Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Workforce Agenda, Optimizing Capabilities and Capacity to Address Workforce Demands. J of American Psychiatric Nurses, 22(2); 122-131.
5) Wand T, D’Abrew N, Barnett C, Acret L, White K (2015). Evaluation of a nurse practitioner-led extended hours mental health liaison nurse service based in the emergency department. Australian Health Review, 39(1);1-8.