Nursing Career Profile: Emergency Room Psychiatric Nursing

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Where the jobs are:

Psych mental health nurses who specialize in emergency psych care may work in free standing psychiatric emergency rooms, in emergency rooms or assessment centers affiliated with any type of inpatient psychiatric facility, and within the emergency rooms of non-psychiatric medical facilities.

Job characteristics and specialized responsibilities:

Nurses who work in psychiatric emergency rooms or emergency assessment centers perform many of the same functions that nurses might perform in a non-psychiatric medical facilities. Some of the most important functions of psych ER nurses include assessment and triage and providing stabilizing treatment. Stabilizing treatment may include medication and in some cases physical restraint for safety of patients and staff. It may also include evaluation and treatment, as ordered, of detoxification symptoms from drugs or alcohol.

In addition, in certain cases, nurses in psych emergency rooms may be required to interact with law enforcement officials while evaluating and stabilizing patients who are subject to involuntary holds. Such cases often include extensive paperwork. Nurses who work in psych emergency rooms affiliated with specialized psych inpatient facilities must demonstrate the ability to evaluate patients for these particular diagnoses, for example substance abuse, eating disorders, self injury. Often nurses who work in emergency settings have additional training in safe take-downs and violence and conflict deescalation.

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