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Substance Abuse Nurse

Psychiatric Nurse / Substance Abuse Nurse  

A substance abuse nurse is one position within the psychiatric nursing field.  In this position, you’ll effectively work as a substance abuse counselor and treatment coordinator with patients who struggle with various addictions.  Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or other substances, you’ll implement treatment options that target both psychological and physiological elements of the addiction.  Working as a substance abuse nurse means that you’ve obtained the proper medical schooling in addition and the proper training for substance abuse counseling. 

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Psychiatric Nursing Jobs

Within this field, there are several possible job descriptions that you’ll have a nurse.  All of them require being a registered nurse.  Mental health nursing jobs can include: nursing assistant, psychiatric nurse practitioner, staff nurse, behavioral health care advocate, psychiatric registered nurse, and clinical nurse specialists. 

Nursing Programs for Psychiatric Nursing

How to Become a Registered Nurse

First off, whatever your degree level, you’ll need to be a registered nurse in order to work as any kind of substance abuse nurse.  There are a few ways to obtain your RN.  The fastest way to become a nurse is to enter an associate of science in nursing  (ASN) program followed by your NCLEX RN exam.   And ASN is a two-year program that effectively prepares you for entry level nursing jobs such as a nurse assistant or staff nurse.  Once you’ve passed your NCLEX-RN exam, you’ll be qualified to work as a registered nurse. 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

With a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, you’ll be more qualified to work as a registered nurse with higher earning potential and better opportunity for obtaining nursing jobs than you would with just an associate nursing degree.  You can enter a four-year nursing program directly or if you already have your RN, you can obtain your BSN through a an RN-to-BSN nursing program. RN to BSN programs are a great option if you need to start working after just 2 years.  You’ll obtain your RN after your ASN in complete and then begin working while you continue school.    

Master of Science in Nursing

With a Masters in nursing, there are opportunities for positions such as nurse practioner (NP), physicians assistant, and clinical nurse specialist (CNS).  Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs are widely available; sometimes entitled Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.  In a PMHNP program, you’ll learn to within schools, home health agencies, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, state psychiatric facilities, and private practice.  PMHNPs are prepared to treat patients with various mental health needs, including addiction.  Most psychiatric nurse practitioner programs include training in pharmacology, advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, applied psychopharmacology, and counseling. 

Psychiatric Nursing Programs

Some of the best psychiatric nursing programs (according to U.S. News and World Report) include University of California – San Francisco Nursing program, University of Pennsylvania Nursing School,  Rush University Nursing School, University of Virginia Nursing School, University of Pittsburg, and University of Washington. 

Online nursing programs are widely available – even some of the best nursing schools in the nation offer online programs.  Aside from online state schools, some other online nursing programs include Walden University, Kaplan University, and Cappella University.  These types of programs are specifically targeted to the working individuals that doesn’t have time for a full time college program.  With a flexible study schedule, you’ll be able to manage your study schedule with work or caring for a family.  It’s suitable for most nursing book study. 

Psychiatric Nurse Salary

Registered Nurse salary will vary quite a bit, based almost solely on your level of education.  While psychiatric staff nurse salary tends to range around $55,000 - $70,000.  Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist salary and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner salary can be upwards of $120,000 per year.  These numbers are also influenced by your level of experience, location of the job, as well as the industry.