Growing up, I played “nurse” with my pets, wrapping them in bandages while they patiently accepted their fate of being practice patients. This trend of care taking animals developed into having that same love of care taking for people. As long as I could remember, I knew I would be in a profession where I would dedicate my life to the wellbeing of humans and alleviation human suffering. In nursing school, I was torn between psych and pediatrics, and conveniently I was hired as a youth behavioral health nurse, combining my passions. Working as a nurse in psych has solidified my choice of nursing specialty in that I am focused on becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).
2.6 million youth between 12 and 17 have had a major depressive episode, with 3.3 million receiving treatment for behavioral disturbances (Ramirez, 2016). This statistic only represents a fraction of individuals of all ages suffering from mental illness. I have first-hand seen on numerous occasions, patients having to reside in the emergency department waiting for a bed. I did not struggle with the decision to pursue the PMHNP path because seeing the lack of providers has been a motivating factor, as well as my passion for psych nursing. A significant concern for individuals with mental health diagnosis is accessing mental health care providers that have the skills and knowledge to primarily address mental health, including medication management and psychotherapy (Ramirez, 2016). This lack of adequate services is where PMHNP is poised to fill this gap for these individuals obtaining sufficient care as well as making a significant difference in behavioral health care delivery (Chapman, Phoenix, Hahn, & Strod, 2018, p. S243).
To support my efforts in becoming a PMHNP, the American Psychiatric Nurse’s Association promotes personal enrichment as a psychiatric nurse practitioner who, in turn, elevates the quality of care provided to individuals (American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 2019a). Becoming a member involves paying a membership fee, but the membership includes networking, continuing education, and personal growth opportunities (American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 2019b).
The decision to become a nurse was instinct, but the decision to pursue the specialty of PMHNP is motivated by the undue suffering I see as a psych nurse with individuals not receiving adequate services due to stigma and lack of providers.
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