Career Development

15 Psychiatric Nurse Skills for Your Career and Resume

Learn about the most important Psychiatric Nurse skills, how you can utilize them in the workplace, and what to list on your resume.

Psychiatric nurses provide care for patients with mental health conditions. They use a variety of skills to assess patients, create treatment plans and provide support. Psychiatric nurses also need to be able to deal with challenging behaviors. If you’re interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse, it’s important to understand the skills that are essential for this position.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is the ability to identify and resolve issues. As a psychiatric nurse, you may encounter challenges when caring for patients with mental health conditions. For example, if a patient has an episode of aggression, you might need to find ways to calm them down or prevent future outbursts. You can also use problem-solving skills when working with other medical professionals to determine the best treatment plan for your patients.

Patient Assessment

Patient assessment is the ability to assess a patient’s condition and determine what treatment they need. This skill can help you provide patients with the care they require, which may improve their overall health. When assessing a patient, it’s important to listen to them and ask questions about their symptoms so you can understand their condition thoroughly. You can then use this information to recommend treatments that will be most effective for the patient.

Medical Surgical Nursing

Medical surgical nursing skills are a set of abilities that allow you to work in the medical field. Medical surgical nurses often have knowledge about anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, which allows them to assess patients and provide treatment for various conditions. Medical surgical nurses also need to know how to use medical equipment and understand basic health care procedures.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make decisions that are most likely to lead to success. This skill can be especially important in psychiatric nursing, where patients may have complex needs that require nurses to think creatively about treatment options. For example, if a patient has an anxiety disorder, a nurse might need to consider how their environment affects them and what they can do to minimize those effects.


Documentation is the process of recording patient information. This includes taking notes during treatment, recording observations and documenting changes in a patient’s condition over time. Good documentation can help you provide quality care to your patients and ensure that other medical professionals have access to important information about your patients’ health.


Pharmacology is the knowledge of medications and their effects. Psychiatric nurses often work with psychiatrists, who are medical doctors that specialize in mental health treatment. This means psychiatric nurses may not have as much pharmacological knowledge as a psychiatrist would. However, it’s important for them to know how different medications can affect patients so they can provide accurate information to their colleagues or patients.

Therapeutic Communication

Therapeutic communication is the ability to communicate with patients in a way that helps them feel comfortable and understood. This skill can help you build trust with your patients, which may make it easier for you to encourage them to take their medication or follow through on treatment plans. It’s also important to listen carefully when patients are sharing information about their mental health conditions so you can better understand how to support them.

Nursing Process

Psychiatric nurses use their knowledge of the nursing process to ensure they provide patients with quality care. This includes knowing how to assess a patient’s needs, create treatment plans and evaluate outcomes. Understanding the steps involved in the nursing process can help you improve your ability to treat patients effectively. You may also consider taking continuing education courses that teach you about new treatment methods or medical advancements.

Psychiatric Nursing

Psychiatric nurses often work with psychiatrists to treat patients with mental health disorders. They use their psychiatric nursing skills, such as empathy and compassion, to help patients cope with their conditions. Psychiatric nurses also need to be able to assess a patient’s condition accurately so they can refer them to the right treatment.

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the abilities you have to interact with others. This includes empathy, compassion and kindness. It also includes your ability to communicate effectively and build relationships. Your interpersonal skills can help you in your role as a psychiatric nurse because they allow you to connect with patients and their families. They can also help you navigate challenging situations at work or in life more easily.

Mental Health

A psychiatric nurse must have a strong understanding of mental health conditions and how to treat them. This includes knowing the symptoms, treatments and resources available for patients with various disorders. It’s also important to be able to recognize when a patient may need additional support from a psychiatrist or other medical professional.


Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. This skill can be useful in a psychiatric nurse’s career because patients may experience unpredictable moods and behaviors, which can change throughout treatment. For example, if a patient has been calm for several hours, a psychiatric nurse might need to adjust their plan of action when the patient becomes agitated. Being flexible allows a psychiatric nurse to respond quickly and appropriately to changes in their patients’ conditions.


A psychiatric nurse must be able to remain calm and patient when working with patients. This is especially important when a patient becomes agitated or aggressive, as the nurse may need to diffuse the situation without escalating it further. A patient may also have difficulty understanding their own condition, so the nurse may need to explain treatment methods in detail and answer questions patiently.


Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. As a psychiatric nurse, you may work with patients who have experienced trauma or are dealing with mental health issues that make them feel isolated. Having empathy can help you connect with your patients and provide them with the support they need. It also allows you to explain treatment options in ways that might be more meaningful to them.


Communication is the ability to convey information clearly and concisely. This skill can be especially important in a medical setting, where it’s necessary for nurses to relay instructions to patients and other medical professionals. Strong communication skills can also help psychiatric nurses explain treatment plans and answer patient questions.

How Can I Learn These Psychiatric Nurse Skills?

There are a few ways that you can learn the necessary skills to become a psychiatric nurse. One way is to enroll in a nursing program that offers a specialty in psychiatric nursing. This will give you the opportunity to learn the skills in a structured setting. Another way is to work as a nurse in a psychiatric unit in a hospital or other healthcare setting. This will give you the opportunity to learn the skills in a real-world setting. Finally, you can also read books or articles about psychiatric nursing to learn the skills.


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