Nursing Career Profile: Psychiatric Nursing for Eating Disorders

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Where the jobs are:

Psych mental health nurses specializing in eating disorder care may work in either inpatient or outpatient settings. These facilities may include either adolescent or adult patients, and in rare cases a mixture of both. Outpatient programs (often called “partial hospitalization” programs) are more common for adolescents as such programs enable them to attend school for part of the day. Most adolescent eating disorder units are heavily, although not exclusively, female.

Job characteristics and specialized responsibilities:

Nurses who work in inpatient or outpatient eating disorder programs may spend time in medication administration, safety evaluation and charting. Nurses who work in these programs must also have excellent physical assessment skills since some eating disorders behaviors can result in life threatening physical symptoms and require close monitoring. Nurses may also lead therapeutic groups as well as psych educational groups and groups that teach nutrition and body relationships. Nurse who work on eating disorder units are often required to eat meals with clients in order to model healthy food related behavior. Eating disorders often co-occur with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety so a strong knowledge is of these are required as well.

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