A psychiatric nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who specializes in mental health. Psychiatric nurses can assess and diagnose mental health issues, as well as treat patients.

Such skills make them invaluable to mental health facilities and hospitals, yet many are independent practitioners. That means they can treat people with mental health issues, in their homes, too.

Do you have a family member who is struggling with their mental health? Here are 5 tips for choosing a psychiatric nurse for your loved one.

Check Their Credentials

This almost goes without saying, but always check their credentials before agreeing to anything. They may be willing to come to your home and treat your loved one there, and that is certainly helpful. But it does not guarantee their qualification to render the services and care your loved one needs.

If they have a pmhnp degree, you can rest assured they met the basic requirements for admission. That includes an undergraduate degree and an RN license. Don’t hesitate to ask for proof of their academic qualifications, as this will instill trust from the start.

Also, check that their RN license is still active, as these need to be renewed every few years. If their license is no longer active and they are not in the process of renewing it, this could be a red flag. Insist on an active license before appointing them to care for your loved one.

Enquire About Their Experience

What sort of experience do they have in the field of psychiatric nursing and mental healthcare? If you interview several psychiatric nurses, you will soon find that they have a wide range of experience and expertise. Some may be newly qualified, while others will have many years of experience.

It must be said that a newly qualified psychiatric nurse is not necessarily a bad choice for your loved one. However, your loved one’s particular mental health issues will determine how experienced a nurse they need. But the type of experience is important, too.

Perhaps they have always worked independently. If this is true, taking on your loved one’s care will not be stressful or unfamiliar to them. If they have always worked in institutions, they may still be transitioning into their new independent role. This could affect their confidence in reimagining mental health strategies.

What Type of Therapy Do They Favor?

Psychiatric nurses working in public or even private institutions, often have little say over the treatments and therapies used. As independent practitioners, they can make their own decisions about how to treat their patients. They will inevitably favor the therapies they have found most productive.

There is nothing wrong with that. It means that they will be relying on proven methods of treatment. But does their preference align with the therapy or treatment your loved one needs? Are you confident about the nurse’s recommended regimen?

If not, discuss your misgivings with them. And allow them to give you their reason for favoring the therapies that they do. Between you, a compromise may be found. However, if after discussing alternatives you don’t reach an accord, you may need to find a better fit for your loved one’s needs.

Ask What Their Area of Specialization/Interest is

Psychiatric nurse practitioners can subspecialize in a variety of fields, and many choose to do so. Before selecting a psychiatric nurse for your loved one, ask what their area of specialization is. If they don’t have one, ask if they have any preferences, for example, treating substance abuse disorders.

Although a psychiatric nurse might not have obtained further qualifications allowing them to officially specialize in a given area, this can give clues as to their suitability.

For example, if they like working with seniors, and your loved one is at an advanced age, they might be the right choice. If they work well with children, and your loved one is a child, they may be the one to choose.

Respect the Initial Connection

When you are deciding on a psychiatric nurse for your loved one, ask to meet for a brief interview. Introduce them to your loved one and look at how they interact with each other. Respect that initial connection.

If your loved one has a negative reaction to the nurse at the start, it may make subsequent therapy sessions problematic. If your loved one is a senior with dementia, the need for a good connection between the therapist/caregiver and the patient is essential.

At the end of the day, your loved one must feel comfortable with your choice, more so than you. If you sense any discomfort in either of them at the initial meeting, you probably have not found the right candidate.