Reactions to Illness in the Hospitalized Adult

How Psychiatric Diagnosis are Made

Assessment Skills in a Crisis Situation

Suicidal in the Hospitalized Patient


Principles of Psychopharmacological Intervention

Major Classifications of Psychiatric Drugs and Their Side Effects

Anti psychotic Agents

Psychopharmacologic Management of the Patient in Acute Alcohol Withdrawal

Special Problems of the Elderly


Suggested Reading


Post Examination


            As with all areas of health care, the field of psychiatry has changed significantly in recent years.  An informed public understands psychiatric problems and accesses psychiatric care more than ever before; general hospitals provide psychiatric services and frequently at various levels of care; significant advances have been made in psychopharmacology and psychobiology.  These examples just begin to describe recent and on-going advances in the psychiatric field.

            Both specialized psychiatric nurses and nurses in other practice areas are impacted by such changes as they deliver patient care.  In clinical practice today nurses are expected to recognize and understand the traditional and non-traditional uses of antidepressant medications; or to assist in differentiating delirium from dementia through astute clinical observation and documentation; or to provide support to the grieving families who have just lost a loved one.

            For many nurses, the psychiatric experience provided in their nursing school curriculum was a brief and confusing introduction to a strange and complex specialty area.  For some ambitious participants included experience in inpatient psychiatry day treatment or out-patient settings, psychosomatic nursing alcohol and drug treatment and enlarged upon the student’s understanding of the psychosocial aspects of care.  Often, stressed and anxious students felt lucky to locate all the practice settings never mind to begin to integrate the skills and techniques demonstrated in the nursing process utilized by psychiatric nurses in the same familiar process employed in all nursing care settings and the basic psychiatric nursing skills of clear communication, empathetic listening and appropriate limit setting for example can be valuable in most practice areas.  In fact many nurses encounter a “blurring” phenomena in practice settings,  Psychiatric units desire psychiatric nurses who can competently start and monitor IV’s, provide wound care and offer diabetic teaching while concurrently providing quality psychiatric care for the primary psychiatric diagnosis.  Today’s psychiatric unit, care for patients with multiple health care needs.  This parallel challenge is experienced by nurses who must be alert to detect early signs of alcohol withdrawal in the post-op patient or to understand the implications of a secondary diagnosis of bipolar illness in a new MI patient.

            This course, then, is designed to provide the non-psychiatric nurse with a relevant update of psychiatric knowledge skills and current practice.  As all areas of health care provide services to higher acuity and more complex patients, nurses recognize a need to feel skilled and competent in providing care once considered outside their area of expertise.  In “dusting off” such skills the nurse may find both patient care and job satisfaction is enhanced.

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