Career Development Plan for a Future Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


With mental health being such a huge stigma in our society, registered psychiatric nurses help provide therapeutic communication, support, and counselling. A registered psychiatric nurse’s job is to not only educate, but also maintain, and restore health care by mainly focusing on psychosocial, mental, or emotional health. Therefore, as a student aspiring to be a psychiatric nurse, I chose to write “Why I want to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner?' essay to outline the skills needed to use within the scope of practice of the many settings a psychiatric nurse can work in.  

Acute Mental Health & Substance Use Psychiatric Nurse

Strengths for working as an acute mental health & substance use psychiatric nurse would be establishing that one-on-one patient interaction and educating them on proper treatment, as well as demonstrating critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As an acute psychiatric nurse, one would also need to demonstrate the skills of how to provide consultation, direction and leadership. Some challenges for working in this field include being constantly alert while giving 24/7 care and being able to physically perform all duties assigned, especially when assisting patients with severe mental disorders. As an RPN, upholding safe, competent, and ethical practice is vital in ensuring the protection of the public.

Child & Adolescent Mental Health Psychiatric Nurse

Strengths for working as a child & adolescent mental health psychiatric nurse is being able to show compassion, as well as provide support for the development of youth. One of the roles as a child & adolescent mental health psychiatric nurse, is making sure their mental development stage is stable, and healthy, as well as provide basic knowledge of any developmental or rehabilitation services available in a pediatric mental health care setting. Some challenges for working in this field is witnessing kids in their vulnerable states, while also helping them maintain control their sporadic behaviours and emotions. Another challenging task this role entails would be having to overcome communication barriers when talking to the patient’s family. A role for an RPN to uphold would be to respect the inherent worth, right of choice, and dignity of persons, regardless of their socioeconomic status or background.

Mental Health Emergency Psychiatric Nurse

Strengths for working as a mental health emergency psychiatric nurse is performing autonomous scope of practice and standards of care relevant to the designated client population. Another strength would also be to maintain professional boundaries, as well as confidentiality between the nurse and the patient. Some challenges for working in this field would be knowing how to effectively manage conflict situations, aggressive behaviour, use non-violent crisis intervention, and behavioural management techniques. Some patients could be prone to becoming more violent, and as an RPN, one must always be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. When working as a mental health emergency psychiatric nurse, one must be able to communicate and practice in a way that respects all cultural, social, political, linguistic, and spiritual practices of every patient.  


The role of the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP) is to essentially to help the regulation of practice on professionals in the nursing field which includes licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). It also sets standards of practice, updates the assessments of nursing programs throughout BC, and identifies complaints about nurses registered. The standards of practice are implemented to establish standards, limits, conditions for Registered Psychiatric Nurses’ practice and is also associated to standards such as the Code of Ethics that are applicable to nursing practice. The RPN Code of Ethics are a set of guidelines on how RPNs can act and behave in their profession. The Code of Ethics emphasizes on the use of ethical principles, values, holding accountability, as well as responsibility to promote high standards of ethical practice that will be served to use for self-evaluation for RPNs.


One particularly interesting psych nursing specialty one finds most interesting would have to be working as a mental health emergency psychiatric nurse, for not only would one establish and cultivate therapeutic relationships with different patients but getting to treat patients from all walks of life. Mental health is defined as a state of well being, how one can handle stress, and how that individual contributes to society. One would also feel empowered to make an impact on everyday peoples’ lives, especially to those who are suffering from a mental disorder and help them have the strength to have a voice in their community by ensuring they are not being exploited. As a mental health emergency psychiatric nurse, it is one’s job to respect the rights of others, as well as make sure that the person’s choices are expressed, and understood.

Also, as an RPN, it is also their job to ensure that not only is the nurse giving the best, holistic care possible to the patient, but also recognize and respect the diversity of the patient’s culture which may be a factor in influencing in making health care decisions. One can adapt to the challenges of the role by constantly keeping up to date with the current standards of practice established by the BCCNP and adhering to the Code of Ethics while working as an RPN. As a psychiatric nurse, one can also use personal strengths to excel in this role by showing warmth and compassion, not only to patients, but to whoever one encounters within a healthcare setting.

Also showing resilience and commitment to serving one’s community as the role of an RPN by educating others on what mental health is, and how they can get help. Establishing a rapport, which is a harmony of understanding and respect between the nurse, and the patient will greatly reduce any stress that the patient might be experiencing. This will also help the nurse establish a mutual trust between the nurse and client, further helping the patient get better, and get effective treatment as soon as possible.


While formulating the career development plan, it outlined key things one has learned on how vast the scope of practice for RPNs are, and how they differ in having their own sets of standards of practice, as well as code of ethics. Hence, RPNs make a significant contribution not only in the healthcare system, but also when it comes to spreading awareness of the importance of mental health. Psychiatric nursing as a profession is quite underrated, and in todays’ society, RPNs are very much needed due to the increasing stigma of mental health, and therefore by showing awareness of how important mental health is, will allow better access to care in the mental health system.


  • Austin, W., Kunyk, D., Peternelj-Taylor, C.A., Boyd, M.A. (2019). Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing for Canadian Practice. (4th Edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer
  • British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals. (n.d.). About BCCNP. BCCNP. Retrieved from
  • British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals. (2018a). Autonomous Scope of Practice and Client-specific Orders [PDF file]. BCCNP. Retrieved from
  • British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals. (2018b). RPN Code of Ethics [PDF file]. BCCNP. Retrieved from
  • International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. (2018). The Practice of Child Mental Health Nurses [PDF File]. IACAPAP. Retrieved from
  • Provincial Health Services Authority. (n.d.). Registered Nurse/Registered Psychiatric Nurse/New Grad Nurse-Child & Adolescent Mental Health. PHSA. Retrieved from
  • Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada. (2014). Registered Psychiatric Nurse Entry-Level Competencies [PDF file]. RPNRC. Retrieved from
  • Vancouver Coastal Health. (n.da). Experienced Resource Nurse Tertiary & Acute Mental Health & Substance Use (RPN RN). VCH. Retrieved from
  • Vancouver Coastal Health. (n.db). Mental Health Emergency Services Nurse (RN/RPN). VCH. Retrieved from
11 February 2023
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