Psychiatric Aide

Pros


  • You will be helping to assist with people who have serious mental health problems. Many of them are unable to take care of themselves.
  • This is a great job for those who are creative and able to adapt to situations, as there is a lot of variety from day to day.
  • Gaining entry into this occupation is relatively easy; many will obtain training while they are on the job.

Cons

  • Stressful situations will arise in this job as many patients are mentally disturbed. You must be able to handle this.
  • Most psychiatric aides are expected to work hours that are not in a traditional workday such as nights and weekends.
  • You will spend a lot of your time on your feet going from patient to patient. In addition, you may need to perform some physical tasks helping people.

Overview

Psychiatric aides are also known as mental health assistants or psychiatric nursing assistants. Their primary duties are to provide care for mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed individuals. They work under a team that may include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and therapists. Psychiatric aides spend a lot of time with their patients, and are in close contact with them. Because of this, psychiatric aides can have a great amount of influence on their outlook and treatment by other medical professionals.
In addition to helping patients to dress, bathe, groom as well as eat, psychiatric aides socialize with them and lead them in educational and recreational activities. Psychiatric aides may play card games with patients, watch television with them or participate in group activities, such as sports or going on field trips. They observe patients and report any physical or behavioral signs that might be important for the professional staff to know. They accompany patients to and from therapy and treatment in order to keep a watchful eye over them.
Most psychiatric aides work in hospitals. But they can also be found in other settings. They can be employed by government agencies, long term care facilities and community health organizations that service families. A growing trend is that psychiatric aides are gaining employment in private health facilities such as outpatient care centers.

Education

Entry-level requirements for psychiatric aides are quite minimal. Many psychiatric aides do not have formal training, although there are educational programs available in vocational centers, private centers and in community colleges. Despite not having formal training, for most psychiatric aides continuing education is usually a requirement, and workers in this field can expect to take courses and seminars on the latest best practices.

Job Prospects

As opposed to many other fields in the health profession, the expected job growth for psychiatric aides will be lower than average. This is because of technological advances that are enabling medical facilities to better treat those who have mental health problems. Nevertheless, there will still be a need for people in this occupation as there will be some growth along with a need to replace retiring workers.

Advancement Opportunities

Opportunities for advancement as a psychiatric aide are minimal. It is possible after some experience to gain a supervisory role for those who have the right leadership skills. With that being said, because it is relatively easy to enter the field with just a high school diploma, one can find out by working in this type of job whether or not they would like a long term-care in the health care field. There are many opportunities available to people in the health sector, and becoming a psychiatric aide to find out if the work is satisfying is a commendable career step.