Staff Spotlight: Dee
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a mental health nurse practitioner? If so, you’re not alone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a growth projection of 38% between 2022-2032. At Balance Psychiatric Services, our team is made up of many psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs), each with their own unique talents and specialties. These talents are what makes our team so special!
We sat down with one of our PMHNPs, Dee, to learn more about her job, what led her to the mental health field, who she works with, and why she loves what she does.
Choosing the Right Profession
Growing up with her grandmother, who was diagnosed with a mental health condition that significantly impacted her daily life, inspired Dee to pursue a psychiatric specialty when studying to become a nurse practitioner. She believes her personal experiences help her work toward her goals of improving mental health care and making a genuine difference in people’s lives. She specializes in mood disorders, eating disorders, pediatrics, and postpartum mental health conditions.
Dee always focuses on providing affirming care to all patients, which means validating and accepting a person’s experiences. Specifically, she supports her patients through their transitions, helping them access affirming medical procedures to ensure comfort in their healthcare journey.
A Day In The Life
Traditionally, we often think of psychiatric nurse practitioners working in an office, a hospital, or an urgent care center. Dee chose a different route; she sees patients via telehealth. With virtual appointments, she can offer a more convenient option for those seeking affirming care but can’t access it in their area. In addition to seeing patients, Dee spends time tending to their various needs, which include:
- Assessing patient progress
- Refilling medications
- Adjust medicine dosages based on a patient’s progress
- Send medications to the patient’s pharmacy
- Scheduling future appointments
- Update and check messages in the EHR system
Health literacy plays a massive role in Dee’s job. Because of the stigmas still associated with many aspects of getting mental health treatment, some patients might be reluctant to fully participate in an assessment or to feel confident in their treatment plan. This, Dee says, is why she encourages all her patients to do research and doesn’t typically prescribe anything on the first visit. If someone is new to mental health medication or is receiving a new diagnosis, providing them with educational handouts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is one of the first things Dee does.
In addition to increasing health literacy, she encourages clients to come prepared for their visits by bringing previous and recent medical records, including lab work or EKGs. This helps to speed along the process, especially for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who need specific assessments to qualify for a diagnosis.
Lessons Learned On The Job
During her time as a mental health nurse practitioner, Dee has learned many lessons that shaped her career and how she interacts on the job. She says the biggest lesson she’s learned is not judging a book by its cover. Plus, double-checking information and following up with patients for well-rounded care is always good.
Dee also acknowledges that being a psychiatric nurse practitioner has its fair share of challenges. With medication shortages on the rise, she says it’s always hard telling patients they may not be able to access the meds they need right then. Options are limited when this happens, but PMHNPs can send prescriptions to different pharmacies if required.
But her favorite part of the job? That’s easy – “Working with patients, especially kids, and watching people heal and meet their goals.”
Thank you, Dee, for sharing your story with us! Stay tuned for more staff spotlights in the future.