Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) perform a valuable role in healthcare, supporting people with a wide range of disorders. This role has evolved recently to include digital health initiatives, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic when face-to-face care was restricted.
These technological advances and their increased use have greatly enhanced the services mental healthcare professionals can offer. Technology works alongside their knowledge and skills to offer positive patient outcomes.
This article will explore the role of PMHNPs in these programs and discover how they add value to the patient experience. Furthermore, any healthcare professional looking to expand their skills should keep reading too, as they will find out how to qualify as a PMHNP and take their career in a new and exciting direction.
What is a PMHNP?
A PMHNP is a highly qualified healthcare professional that has undergone initial training in nursing and has experience in mental health or other areas. After this initial training, they undertake a program of study to specialize in mental health care, gaining a postgraduate qualification in this area as well as certification and a license to practice.
PMHNP responsibilities include diagnosing, treating, and managing mental health disorders, providing treatment via psychotherapy and/or medication, prescribing medication, communicating with patients and families, and coordinating care with other healthcare professionals. It is a highly skilled, wide-ranging and rewarding role that can make an incredible difference to people’s lives.
Digital health initiatives used by PMHNPs
While some of the care offered by PMHNPs is given in-person, there’s a growing movement towards using digital health initiatives to supplement it.
PMHNPs may offer consultations by telephone or videocall. This has many advantages for both patients and healthcare practitioners, offering a convenient way both to connect at a time and in a place that is tailored to the patient’s needs.
Telehealth consultations have a special place for patients affected by anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is because these particular conditions may make the patient feel uncomfortable at the prospect of traveling to an unfamiliar place. Offering a consultation by video or phone call means that the PMHNP can deliver care tailored to the patient’s unique needs, increasing the chances of patient satisfaction and a good outcome.
A virtual ward is a way to offer patients care without requiring time in hospital. This method of care delivery is more intensive than a simple telehealth consultation and often involves daily treatment via telephone calls or video conferences with one or more clinicians.
Just like in a ‘real’ ward, patients have 24-hour access to the support they need via technology with the option to see a mental health professional in person if their health status requires it. A patient’s experience in a virtual ward is often led by a PMHNP, who coordinates all the care the patient needs and liaises with colleagues to provide other aspects of their treatment.
Prescribing is an integral part of a PMHNP’s role, with e-prescribing the natural progression using digital technology. This is the practice of the healthcare professional, such as the PMHNP, sending a prescription straight to the patient’s pharmacy, cutting out the need for the patient to travel to collect it.
This is clearly a more efficient way for patients to access the medication they need. It also works well for patients living with a whole variety of mental health issues, simplifying the prescription process.
The benefits of digital health initiatives
Digital health initiatives and the role PMHNPs play in their delivery offer many benefits. For a start, these initiatives mean that mental healthcare is available to more people than ever before. This is especially true for patients living in rural communities who may find it difficult to travel to health centers or those who live in areas where there is a shortage of appropriate staff. In fact, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) reports that over 60% of Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas are in rural communities.
Using digital platforms also means that PMHNPs have easier access to other healthcare professionals involved with their patients’ care. As a result, services are more connected and collaborative. Furthermore, digital health initiatives also help to reduce the risk of transmitting infectious illnesses as there is no personal contact.
One of the greatest benefits for PMHNPs is that digital initiatives allow students in this field to continue their training, wherever they are based and at times that suit them. Indeed, online courses that allow Registered Nurses (RNs) to qualify as PMHNPs are opening this exciting career path to many promising candidates, offering an accessible way to get qualified and start working in this rewarding role.
Want to know more about becoming a PMHNP?
So, perhaps an individual or nurse who has read this far may feel excited about the many innovative ways that PMHNPs deliver care — so much so that they feel inspired to pursue this role as a career.
Those wondering how to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), an online program is often the best option. The Online Master of Science in Nursing-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN-PMHNP) program by Rockhurst University offers students the flexibility to study at a time and from a location of their choice. The course can be completed over six semester full-time or eight semesters part-time. This course will also prepare nurses for the ANCC PMHNP-BC Certification, which is essential for practicing nurses looking forward to their new career.
Students should know that they need to have achieved their initial nurse training and have some experience of practicing as a licensed nurse. They can then go on to study an accredited program, such as the course offered by Rockhurst, that explores the skills needed to follow a career in psychiatric mental health nursing, in addition to other relevant areas such as quality improvement, leadership, and healthcare policy.
Step into a rewarding career
A PMHNP role is a great choice for anyone with a mission to help others in their time of need with the help of innovative technology to help make this a reality. Any individual inspired by digital health initiatives in mental health and who wants to progress their career in nursing can check out online MSN-PMHNP programs, such as the one by Rockhurst University. This flexible, accredited program could be the answer aspiring nurses are looking for if they want to step into a rewarding and inspiring career in mental health.