Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: Education, Jobs, Expectations & More
The use of telemedicine is skyrocketing across the United States. In 2021, 37% of adults accessed healthcare via telemedicine.
Telemedicine has made it possible for healthcare professionals to provide care to patients in a remote environment. Through telehealth, medical providers can reach underserved populations, help overcome healthcare provider shortages nationwide, decrease patient wait time and enjoy a better working environment.
The benefits of telemedicine are clear—and both patients and clinics are starting to take notice.
If you are a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) who is interested in the intersection of technology and behavioral and mental healthcare, you may want to consider a career as a telepsychiatry nurse practitioner.
What Is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?
A psychiatric nurse practitioner is a PMHNP or a nurse practitioner who provides mental health services through telemedicine such as videoconferencing.
Through remote means, psychiatric nurse practitioners serve patients and can provide specialty care virtually.
What Does a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Do?
Psychiatric nurse practitioners provide the same behavioral and mental health services that other PMHNPs do, just through an online communication system.
In a telemedicine role, PMHNPs evaluate and diagnose patients, conduct therapy sessions, prescribe medication and formulate treatment plans, all with a focus on patient care. Psychiatric nurse practitioners may also serve as consultants or educators.
Additionally, with constant advances in technology, PMHNPs can expect to learn and start using new telemedicine systems; for example, some clinics have started to offer virtual reality systems to patients.
Overall, psychiatric nurse practitioners in a telemedicine role can expect to telecommute with patients, maintain electronic medical records and provide psychiatric care—all while meeting established clinical guidelines.
What Education Is Needed to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?
To become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must have a valid nursing license and a nurse practitioner’s license, earn a master’s degree or a doctorate in nursing from an accredited program and sit for the PMHNP certification exam.
These licenses are state-specific. Nurses and nurse practitioners in telemedicine roles can see patients in any state for which they hold a license, which means you don’t have to live in the same state as a patient to see them. As long as your license is valid in a state, you can work with patients in that state. Additionally, you can be licensed in multiple states to further expand the areas in which you can practice.
Clinical experience in providing psychiatric nursing services is also recommended before applying to a telepsychiatry nurse practitioner position.
Telepsychiatry to Support Nurse Practitioners
When clinics use telemedicine to partner with psychiatric nurse practitioners or PMHNPs, it leads to better patient outcomes as well as better work opportunities for providers. Nurse practitioners with technological skills and experience in psychiatric services should consider the variety of benefits provided by a career in telepsychiatry.
Addresses Language and Cultural Barriers
Language and cultural differences between providers and patients are a significant barrier to care. Patients who speak another language or come from a different cultural background than the providers they have access to feel hesitant about seeking the mental and behavioral health services they need. However, having access to a provider who understands their language and culture makes patients more comfortable.
Clinics that partner with telepsychiatry nurse practitioners bridge this gap. They can draw from a large pool of providers and find PMHNPs who speak the same language as or have experience in the culture of their patients.
Telemedicine is an opportunity for clinics and hospitals to remove language and cultural barriers between patients and providers.
Extends Services to Underserved Populations
Rural areas across the United States have long suffered from a lack of mental and behavioral healthcare providers. Patients in these regions face several barriers, including the time, expense and resources it takes to leave work, find childcare and travel to find the closest specialist in their region. If they don’t have transportation, can’t take time away from employment or childcare responsibilities and if they need a specialist, it can be even more difficult to receive care.
Telepsychiatry makes it possible for underserved populations to access the healthcare they deserve. Clinics and hospitals in rural areas can bring in PMHNPs virtually to provide mental health services to patients in their geographic region. Then, patients can access high-quality, specialty care through remote technology.
These rural clinics and hospitals can also create opportunities for hybrid models of care, which means that patients can visit the clinic in-person or access virtual care through the clinic.
Overcomes Access Issues Due to Provider Shortages
Patients deserve to get the care they need when they need it, but with provider shortages in several areas of psychiatry, long waits and a lack of local specialists, patients can spend a significant amount of time waiting for treatment.
More than 150 million Americans live in federally designated mental health provider shortage areas. According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 43% of adults in the United States who needed mental healthcare or substance use healthcare could not access care.
Wait times for patients also continue to increase. On average, the national wait time between a patient’s referral or first outreach with a provider and their first appointment is 48 days. These long wait times are further prolonged due to the high turnover rate in the behavioral health industry—an average of 40%.
Similarly, clinics struggle to find qualified providers nearby who are available and interested in serving their patients. In areas where Medicaid and Medicare enrollment is higher, for example, it is especially difficult to find qualified mental health practitioners; these insurance plans have billing restrictions that can lead to low reimbursement rates for behavioral health services.
Telepsychiatry solutions help overcome these access issues and address the gap in providers. Clinics and hospitals can find the right specialists without being limited by geography, and patients can then connect with an experienced PMHNP in a reasonable timeframe.
Provides a Better Work-Life Balance
As a telepsychiatry nurse practitioner, you can work remotely—that means no long commutes, no traffic jams, more time for family and friends and better work-life balance. You can also serve patients virtually in any state for which you hold a valid license, all from the comfort of your own home.
At the same time, you provide essential care to underserved populations, build relationships with patients from a variety of cultural and geographical backgrounds and focus on delivering care to the patients who need it most.
Start Your Career as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Today
At innovaTel, our goal is to connect healthcare organizations around the country with highly qualified psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and licensed clinical social workers. Our matchmaking process ensures a seamless integration, and we provide customized workflows and ongoing support to providers who are looking for long-term solutions.
As a telepsychiatry nurse practitioner with innovaTel, you can expect a variety of benefits, including paid time off; mental, dental and vision coverage; a 401 (k) savings plan with match; licensing reimbursement; malpractice coverage and the work-life balance that comes with a 100% remote-work environment.
We look for exceptional providers who are committed to offering exceptional care.