In Summary - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurses typically work in the following Career Sectors:
Videos & Interviews
Liam Dowling, Clinical Nurse Manager 2
Liam is a qualified Nurse (CNM2) in the area of Intellectual Disability. He chose to change his career path from that of a qualified Butcher to Intellectual Disability Nursing in his early twenties, and completed a Degree programme. He now works in St Michael's house with people that have severe and profound intellectual disabilities.
The Work - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
Psychiatric nursing is a specialist nursing discipline. The primary objectives are to facilitate the maximum development of the mental health of the individual who has psychiatric problems and to promote mental health.
A major focus of psychiatric nursing is to rehabilitate patients so that as many as possible can live full lives in community settings and to support those already living in the community. At the heart of the role of the psychiatric nurse is the ability to establish therapeutic relationships with individuals and their families. The psychiatric nurse uses his or her own personality and communication skills to form and maintain these relationships.
The policy in Ireland is to achieve a shift in the care of mentally ill patients from institutions to community settings. Nurses work as part of a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and others.
When a patient arrives on the ward, the nurse responsible for them assesses their nursing requirements and draws up a care plan, which outlines their needs and treatment schedule. Nurses observe the effectiveness of treatment and modify the care plan accordingly.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Diagnose psychiatric disorders and mental health conditions.
- Distinguish between physiologically and psychologically based disorders and diagnose appropriately.
- Assess patients' mental and physical status based on the presenting symptoms and complaints.
- Conduct individual, group, or family psychotherapy for those with chronic or acute mental disorders.
- Monitor patients' medication usage and results.
- Evaluate patients' behavior to formulate diagnoses or assess treatments.
- Educate patients and family members about mental health and medical conditions, preventive health measures, medications, or treatment plans.
- Document patients' medical and psychological histories, physical assessment results, diagnoses, treatment plans, prescriptions, or outcomes.
- Collaborate with interdisciplinary team members, including psychiatrists, psychologists, or nursing staff, to develop, implement, or evaluate treatment plans.
- Write prescriptions for psychotropic medications as allowed by state regulations and collaborative practice agreements.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Interests - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.
Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
You need to have good communication skills - partly so that you can work effectively in a team and partly so you can reassure patients and involve them in care planning. Technological advances mean that an interest in science, and an understanding of how the body and mind work is useful.
Carrying out physical care requires practical ability and good observational skills. As a nurse you must be resourceful, mature and tolerant enough to cope with demanding patients and other difficult situations.
Most nursing posts require a certain level of physical fitness and emotional resistance.
Entry Requirements - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
To work as a qualified nursing professional, you must first successfully complete a programme of nursing education, and then apply to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI), the statutory body for regulation of the nursing profession in Ireland.
1. Pre-Registration Degree Programmes Leading to Registration with NMBI
There are 5 pre-registration level nursing training programmes available, all of which are at Level 8 Honours Bachelor Degree, including the BSc in Psychiatric Nursing programme:
- BSc in General Nursing (RGN) (4 Years Duration)
- BSc in Children's and General Nursing (integrated) (4.5 years Duration)
- BSc in Psychiatric Nursing (RPN) (4 Years Duration)
- BSc in Intellectual Disability Nursing (RNID) (4 Years Duration)
- BSc in Midwifery (4 Years Duration)
The programmes are offered through 13 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in association with the main Healthcare Agencies (Hospitals/Clinical Sites). Application is made through the CAO.
Psychiatric Nursing training is available at:
Athlone IT; DCU; Dundalk IT; GMIT; Letterkenny IT; NUIG; UCC; UCD; and Waterford IT.
Getting into Nursing Training
To get into a nursing training programme applicants must:
(a) have obtained a minimum grade of C3 in two higher level papers and a minimum grade of D3 in four ordinary or higher level papers in the Leaving Certificate, in the following subjects:
- Irish or English
- A Laboratory Science subject (Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Physics & Chemistry or Agricultural Science)
- Three other subjects
(b) have achieved the equivalent minimum educational attainments to the Leaving Certificate, as judged by the Higher Education Authority(HEA)
(c) meet the minimum educational requirements specified by the third level institution (HEI) concerned, for entry to the course, provided the requirements are not of a lower standard than those set out in (a) above.
(Note: Foundation Level Mathematics or Foundation Level Irish are not acceptable).
Alternative Entry Routes:
Certain Specific QQI Level 5 Certificate Programmes provide links to Nursing Degree Programmes. These currently are:
- Nursing Studies (5M4349 / DCHSN)
- Healthcare Support (5M4339 / DHSXXX)
- Community and Health Services (5M4468 / DCHSX)
In all cases, applicants must have achieved distinctions in five components including;
- Anatomy and Physiology (5N0749 / D20001)
- Introduction to Nursing (5N4325 / D200012)
- Human Growth and Development (5N1279 / D20032) or Biology (5N2746 / C20006)
For full detail see 'Nursing and Midwifery - A Career for You 2015'
Last Updated: October, 2014
Pay & Salary - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 45k - 57k
Last Updated: February, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
Despite a decline in employment, the demand for certain types of nursing skills has remained strong and has resulted in shortages. Work patterns and certain geographical locations are also impacting on recruitment and retention of nurses.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - Psychiatric / Mental Health Care Nurse
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland
Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO)
An Bord Altranais/Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI)