Career Analysis: The Psychiatric NP

Career Analysis

2 Comments to Career Analysis: The Psychiatric NP

  1. Hello. Thank you for your very detailed description of PMHNPs and how they compare to MD Psychiatrists.

    Your numbers for each medical occupation were totally spot on.

    Q: How do you feel about prescribing psychologists? What additional medical training do they have to undertake along with usual career path? How are they different careerwise from psychiatrists?

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      Great questions!

      I view prescribing psychologists with contempt (just kidding). I actually feel sorry for them because they are, in general, overeducated and overtrained for what they do. If you take a look at page 6 of the report from the Congressional Research Service (click on “Take a look at this publication” in my original blog post) and compare the scopes of practice between the psychologist and the Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse (or NP), you’ll see that psychologists generally CANNOT prescribe medication. So what’s the value proposition of being a psychologist?

      Apparently, it’s in the ability to administer and interpret psychological tests.

      This means that doctorally prepared psychologists are not as versatile (because they generally cannot prescribe medication) as masters prepared NPs and PAs, even though psychologists may spend twice as much time (and sometimes longer) in school. This is a good example of education being overrated. The take home message is that one’s degree is not as important as one’s credential.

      Here’s some proof:
      The average salary for a psychologist is $83,967, while the average salary for a Psych NP is $122, 963.

      Even though psychologists have terminal degrees and thousands of hours of training, they still make less than Psych NPs, most of whom only have masters degrees. The marketplace values the ability to prescribe (the value proposition of the Psych NP) over the administration/interpretation of psychological tests (the value proposition of the psychologist).

      In terms of your question on additional medical training for prescribing psychologists, please see this link.

      I would say that prescribing psychologists are different from psychiatrists in that the former group is much more limited in practice. That is, prescribing psychologists can prescribe only in a handful of states, whereas psychiatrists can prescribe in all states.

      Thanks for your interesting questions!

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