How to Become a Psychiatric Nurse Specialist

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    • 1). Complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Apply to a four-year university that offers the BSN program if you're a new college entrant. Apply to an accelerated RN to BSN program if you hold an associate degree in nursing. Or, apply to an accelerated Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program if you are not a nurse and hold a bachelor's degree in another field. Complete the educational requirements to earn your bachelor's degree and qualify for the National Council Licensure Exam.

    • 2). Pass the NCLEX-RN, the National Council Licensure Exam required of registered nurses. Submit an application to the state board of nursing in the state in which you want to be licensed. Schedule the exam date, pay any applicable registration fees and pass the exam to obtain your licensure.

    • 3). Complete an MSN degree in the psychiatric and mental health specialization. Find a program that offers the psychiatric clinical nurse specialist degree; the National Association of Clinical Nurses Specialists maintains a list on its website of these specialist programs within the United States.

    • 4). Pass the certification exam to earn the psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist (PMHCNS) credential. This exam covers topics such as mental health science, counseling principles, assessment and diagnosis and neurobiology. Submit an application to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to sit for this computer-based test. Register for your preferred date and time when scheduling the exam.

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