How To Earn Your Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification

Prepare for your Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (RN-BC) Exam with a bundle of essential online tools and information.

You have at least 2,000 dedicated hours of clinical practice in psychiatric–mental health nursing and over 30 hours of continuing education. Now you need the tools to prepare for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (RN-BC) exam.

Use of these or any other course(s)/material(s) does not imply eligibility for certification or successful performance on any certification exam, nor is it a requirement to qualify for individual certification.

The American Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Centers Commission on Accreditation.

Psych-Mental Health Nursing Certification Preparation Tools

Who needs a psychiatric nurse certification?

RNs who are already practicing professionally but would like to specialize in psychiatric care might need certification to obtain the job they want. These nurses strive to help individuals, families and communities with mental health needs by providing psychiatric care that supports the challenges patients are currently facing and determining how to prevent more in the future.

Having a certification allows an RN to evaluate the presence or potential for mental health disorders, diagnose patients and prescribe treatment, including medication. An RN who sometimes works with mental health patients but is not certified is limited to managing a patients daily schedule and administering already prescribed medications.

Certified psychiatric-mental health nurses (PMHN) can also administer psychotherapy and work toward other advanced specialties in psychiatric nursing that provide even more possibilities for employment, such as in research positions or as administrators or educators.

What is a psychiatric nurse certification?

Certification in psychiatric nursing can reinforce an RN’ss reputation for having advanced skills in mental health care and commitment to their patients. Even though it is not always required to work in psychiatry, certification improves opportunities for working in a desired specialty and in competitive positions.

An RN can earn their psychiatric-mental health certification by passing the psychiatric-mental health board certification exam offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The exam is competency-based and tests basic knowledge and skills related to the clinical duties psychiatric nurses perform.

After passing the exam, a nurse receives the credential of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse-Board Certified (PMH-BC). Nurse practitioners can obtain advanced certification as a Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (PMH-APRN). Both credentials offer opportunities for higher compensation and more advanced job duties. They must be renewed every five years.

How to earn psychiatric nurse certification

Here are the steps to acquiring a certification in psychiatric nursing:

1. Become a registered nurse

The first step is to complete an educational program that focuses on nursing at a college or university, such as:

2. Practice as an RN for at least two years

Next, youll need to work as an RN for at least two years in a full-time professional clinical position. Nurses can practice at medical offices like clinics, hospitals, private practices and psychiatric hospitals, which might be especially beneficial to a nurse who is working toward psychiatric-mental health certification.

3. Consider earning a masters or doctoral degree

Registered nurses who want to become nurse practitioners certified in psychiatric mental health must have a master’s or doctoral degree to be eligible. Enroll in a graduate nursing program that specializes in psychiatric-mental health nursing and offers the opportunity to work in roles that provide field experience.

4. Obtain clinical practice and continuing education hours

Youll need to reach a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in psychiatric nursing before scheduling a certification exam. You can accomplish this in places like general or psychiatric hospitals, private practices or with home health care organizations.

While accumulating hours of clinical practice, complete at least 30 hours of continuing education in psychiatric-mental health within three years. These hours can come from the graduate programs you might have enrolled in as long as the program focuses on psychiatric-mental health.

5. Apply to take the certification exam

Make an appointment to take the psychiatric-mental health board certification exam and pay the necessary fee. Rates for PMH-BC and PMH-APRN vary according to American Psychiatric Nurses Association and International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses membership. Check with the ANCC for current costs.

After the board accepts your application, youll receive a 90-day window in which you can take the exam. Rescheduling is possible, but there is a fee.

6. Pass the board certification exam

Take the PMH-BC or PMH-APRN exam and receive a passing grade to earn board certification. The exam takes around three hours and covers four subject areas:

After passing the exam, youll be certified to practice as a psychiatric-mental health nurse wherever your license applies.

FAQ

How do I become a nurse in psych?

A Psychiatric or Behavioral Health Nurse cares for patients with psychiatric disorders such as mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and substance abuse.

Is a psych nurse a real nurse?

Credential Awarded: RN-BC®

The ANCC Informatics Nursing board certification examination is a competency based examination that provides a valid and reliable assessment of the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of registered nurses in the informatics specialty after initial RN licensure.

What is rn BC certification?

So just how hard is the PMHNP ANCC exam? In order to pass, you’ll need to earn a scaled score of 350 points or more. Since possible scores range from zero to 500, you’ll definitely have to be smart about your pacing.

How hard is the Pmhnp exam?

So just how hard is the PMHNP ANCC exam? In order to pass, you’ll need to earn a scaled score of 350 points or more. Since possible scores range from zero to 500, you’ll definitely have to be smart about your pacing.

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