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Psychiatric Nurse Senior

Salary: $31.75-$38.76 hourly / $5,523-$6,742 monthly / Range: 6266

DEFINITION: Under direction, provides professional psychiatric nursing care to acutely and chronically ill patients and assists the Psychiatric Nursing Supervisor in providing direction and training to staff; performs related duties as required.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: This is a lead class and is distinguished from Psychiatric Nurse II in that the major functions of the Senior class involve assisting the Psychiatric Nursing Supervisor in planning and organizing training for nursing staff, evaluating clinic activities, and acting in the supervisor's absence.

This class is distinguished from Staff Nurse, Senior by the specialization in psychiatric nursing.


1. Assists in the interviewing and evaluation of prospective nurses and technicians; conducts new employee training, orients them to departmental policies and procedures and mental health laws and regulations, and completes a daily checklist for each completed training activity; analyzes and evaluates the need for staff training, such as training in managing patients' assaultive behavior; evaluates staff assignments and staff-patient interaction in order to reduce stress levels; counsels staff in specialized areas in order to improve the level of care; develops improved charting methods; arranges for and provides continuing education required for proper licensure of nursing staff.
2. Makes recommendations regarding changes to nursing services and clinic activities; develops and implements policies and procedures related to area of specialization, such as infectious disease control; maintains and writes updates to the department policy and procedures manual.
3. Observes assigned patients on a daily basis to identify, interpret, and document physical and emotional status and/or patterns, such as assaultive or suicidal behavior and response to treatment or medication; as part of multi-disciplinary team, assists in formulating a diagnosis and developing and implementing individualized patient treatment plans based on observations; provides crisis intervention to those individuals experiencing acute episodes.
4. Participates in or leads individual or group counseling sessions, family conferences, and recreational and social therapy sessions to assist patients in understanding the nature of emotional and physical problems, to accept the need for treatment, and to address issues such as communicable disease and family planning.
5. Administers psychotropic medications to patients, monitors use, and documents reactions; instructs patients on the purpose, dosage and side effects of medication, and explains the legal process related to the patient's refusal to take prescribed medication.
6. Acts as a team leader, on a rotational basis, for assigned shift; plans, assigns, and reviews the work of other regular nursing staff, student nurses, and mental health technicians.
7. Participates in departmental and team meetings to discuss patient care and progress, shift activity, and program policies and procedures; may act as a lead in an area of specialization, such as infectious disease control; attends regular committee meetings in order to keep abreast of current issues, trends, and procedures, and informs and educates staff.
8. Obtains medical, psychiatric, social and family histories of new admissions; takes and records vital signs; obtains lab specimens; assists physicians with exams; schedules and arranges for special tests; develops discharge plans; maintains charts and logs; monitors supplies; performs catheterizations and enemas; and draws blood.
9. Aids patients in obtaining proper medical care, after release or during hospitalization, by identifying community agencies and resources to assist patients with stabilization while living in the community; interacts with staff from private medical facilities, courts, and county and State agencies to express concerns of the patient and to discuss treatment; testifies in court as to the patient's mental and physical condition.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS: Possession of a valid Registered Nurse license issued by the California State Board of Registered Nursing; and,

1. two years of nursing experience in an acute care psychiatric or outpatient community mental health facility or,
2. equivalent combination of training, education or experience that would provide the required knowledge, abilities and license.

Knowledge of: the laws and regulations pertaining to psychiatric nursing; the various methods, techniques, and procedures used in psychiatric nursing; the uses and effects of psychotropic drugs and narcotics; patient safety practices and facility security; theories, principles, and techniques of group and individual psychotherapy; symptoms and behavior patterns of emotionally disturbed and mentally ill patients; mental health community resources and services; the principles, practices, and laws of professional nursing; health education and interviewing and counseling techniques; common illnesses, diseases, disabilities, injuries, and nutrition; medical equipment operation; supervisory practices.

Ability to: plan, organize, and evaluate the work of nursing and support staff, and facility activities; identify and make recommendations regarding operational problems; develop and conduct staff training; explain mental health laws and regulations; observe emotional and physical behavior; evaluate and assess the need for mental health services; analyze a situation and adopt a course of action; prepare and maintain medical records and reports; recognize and respect limits of confidential information; communicate with people of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic origins; speak before groups; exercise independent judgement in medical emergencies; demonstrate tact, diplomacy, patience and compassion; establish and maintain working relationships with subordinate staff, co-workers, other agencies, and organizations; comply with and enforce nursing policies, protocols, and program regulations; understand and follow instructions, work independently.

WORKING CONDITIONS: Incumbents work in a locked facility with patients who can be a danger to themselves and others. Incumbents must be able to restrain patients in crisis and other situations, and work shifts.

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