Behavioral Health RN
Despite a long-standing social stigma against mental health treatment, society now better acknowledges that mental health care is healthcare! Few know the importance of this better than behavioral health RNs, who are often alternately referred to as psychiatric nurses or mental health nurses. Now, more than ever, there’s high demand for behavioral health nurses and other healthcare professionals to work in the behavioral health or psych unit. This demand means plenty of well-paying travel nursing and allied health jobs in various locations nationwide! If you’re a behavioral health RN, tech, CNA, or social worker, read on to learn more and explore nationwide job opportunities that could be your perfect fit. You can also apply here or search behavioral health RN jobs and other behavioral health unit jobs here.
Is Behavioral Health a good career?
When you start a career as a travel behavioral health RN, it can help you avoid nurse burnout while still sharing your much-appreciated skills, talent, and experience with facilities nationwide that need your help the most. Of course, by nature your work will remain very demanding, but with the various locations and facilities you can visit, travel nursing can help you stay fresh, motivated, and centered on providing incredible care to every one of your patients. Additionally, working as a behavioral health travel nurse is a wonderful way to continue to sharpen your skills, amass experience, and pad your resume — all while you explore the country and the many personal and professional opportunities available to you!
Behavioral health nurses may work in various facilities and settings, including acute care hospitals, long-term acute care facilities, post-acute, rehab centers, clinics, small practices, mental health facilities, and home health.
What does a Behavioral Health Nurse do?
To succeed working as a behavioral health RN, you must possess incredible communication skills that allow you to create and maintain great relationships with your patients. You must also be very adaptable to change and remain flexible at all times, be very aware of and accepting of various lifestyles and traditions, be organized, and have a good memory. Your patients will have complicated emotional and mental needs, which are often accompanied by physical conditions and needs. You must be caring, knowledgeable, and able to help each of your patients manage their unique situation.
The ultimate goal for a behavioral health RN is to help treat each patient’s short-term mental health issues, and, if they’re facing chronic concerns, help manage and plan for further treatment. While many mental health conditions/issues may be long-term, a behavioral health RN provides short-term treatment, with a plan for long-term management.
Who Works in Behavioral Health?
This differs depending on the setting, but behavioral health units and/or facilities usually include a multidisciplinary team of healthcare and administrative professionals collaborating to treat patients in need of behavioral healthcare/mental healthcare. This team can include behavioral health nurses, advanced practice behavioral health RNs, techs, CNAs, social workers, case managers, charge/clinical coordinators, dieticians, clinical pharmacists, occupational therapists, administrative staff. In an acute care setting, other team members working with a behavioral health RN may also include doctors and specialists related to any other ailments, injuries, or conditions the patient is facing.
How is a Behavioral Health RN different from a Psych RN?
These two terms/titles are basically interchangeable. There can certainly be differences between nurses in the mental health space depending on education, title, certifications, advanced practice, facility type, and other such variances. However, at heart, a behavioral health nurse works in the same space and fulfills the same function as a psychiatric nurse, mental health nurse, or psychiatric-mental health nurse.
Who’s Treated by Behavioral Health RNs?
Patients in the behavioral health/psychiatric unit, or who are being cared for elsewhere in a facility by a behavioral health nurse, can undergo treatment for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons a patient sees a behavioral health nurse include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, substance abuse/addiction, PTSD, exposure to natural or human-made disasters and/or traumas, and many other such reasons and conditions.
Quick Behavioral Health RN Facts
- Commonly required behavioral health RN education: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and/or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), plus passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
- Commonly required behavioral health RN certifications: Basic Life Support (BLS), Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI)
- Commonly preferred behavioral health RN certifications: Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS)
- Commonly required experience to become a travel behavioral health RN: Facilities typically require at least two years of recent, in-hospital experience to hire you as a behavioral health travel nurse. To protect your license and deliver great patient care, you’ll want the benefit of this experience!
- Average annual behavioral health RN salary range: $78,500-$123,500
Locations where behavioral health RN are in high demand: Demand for behavioral health RNs, or psych RNs, is continually growing nationwide! Locations like California, Massachusetts, Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, New Jersey, Idaho, Connecticut, Arizona, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C., reflect high demand with higher average salaries for behavioral health RNs.