What’s the difference between a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are a popular choice for providers by many patients because of their accessibility and ability to understand patient perspectives. When looking for someone to manage your health, especially your mental health, it’s essential to find someone you connect with and that you feel understands your symptoms.

Despite some similarities, there are several key differences between the responsibilities, training, and work environment for the two types of nurse practitioners.

Education and Training

Nurse practitioners (NPs) start by obtaining a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) and their Registered Nurse (RN) license. After that, they pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), where they learn how to work in different practice areas like primary care, pediatrics, acute care, or family medicine – the most common NP specialty.

Once earning their NP license, many choose to specialize in one of the practice areas mentioned above, which requires additional training. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) can test and receive these credentials from different universities and certification boards like the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

At Balance Psychiatric Services, all our NPs are certified in one or both of these practice areas. That means no matter which one of our NPs you meet with, you’re in the hands of an extensively trained, reputable, and caring provider.

Job Responsibilities and Patient Populations

PMHNPs primarily focus on addressing mental health issues, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, substance abuse disorders, and more. These NPs predominantly work with people experiencing mental health challenges across a diverse range of ages, genders, and backgrounds. You might also see some PMHNPs specialize in specific mental disorders (like mood disorders, OCD, or PTSD), age groups (like pediatrics), or populations (like veterans). When working with patients, they conduct psychiatric assessments, develop treatment plans, and prescribe medications. Some may also provide psychotherapy to patients.

On the other hand, FNPs have a more general scope of practice, which may encompass diagnosing and treating common illnesses, managing chronic conditions, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications, and providing patient education and counseling. These NPs often serve as primary care providers for patients of all ages.

However, PMHNPs and FNPs collaborate with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists, pharmacists, primary care doctors, specialists, and other healthcare professionals to ensure holistic and coordinated patient care. (Hint: all our providers do this to ensure we provide you with the best care possible!)

Looking for Convenient, Holistic Mental Health Care?

If you’re looking for mental health medication management services, contact us today to learn how our PHMNPs and FNPs can help you improve your mental well-being today!