Psychiatric Aide

What Does a Psychiatric Aide Do?
Psychiatric aides are responsible for providing long-term care to patients that require special treatment. They work with patients who are developmentally disabled, mentally ill, emotionally compromised, or recovering substance abusers. Many psychiatric aides help their patients with daily routine tasks, such as bathing, eating, and changing clothes. They typically are on call at all times, responding quickly to patients who need assistance as well as monitoring the patient so that they may avoid causing harm to themselves or others. Psychiatric aides work under the supervision of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other members of the psychiatric team. They accompany patients to their medical treatments as well as recreational activities. In addition to providing general help to patients, psychiatric aides keep a close eye on the patient’s health and well-being. They may do this by taking regular readings of the patient’s blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, or they may do this through general observation.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Psychiatric Aide?
Health care is one of the most prosperous and steadily growing fields in the job industry today. This is due to the fact that no matter what the economic climate is or what political issues are being debated, the need for health care professionals remains at a high. The complexity of human health, the inevitability of aging and the unpredictability of injury and disease all contribute to health care’s longevity. This is true in all aspects of health care, including mental health. Psychiatric aides will see a boom in demand as a large portion of the population reaches their elder years, increasing their susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, according to the California Employment Development Department. In fact, employment opportunities for psychiatric aides are expected to grow 6 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Psychiatric aides earn an average hourly wage of $12.77, according to the most current information available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Psychiatric Aide?
A high school diploma is the minimum education needed to become a psychiatric aide in many cases. However, with more competition in the job market, aspiring psychiatric aides would be more successful in finding employment if they earned an associate degree in nursing or another health care field. An associate degree would take about two years to obtain. During this time, students should take courses in nutrition, anatomy, communication, psychology, and other classes that will help them to gain a deeper understanding of mental health and patient care. Most job-specific skills are taught on the job by experienced psychiatric aides or head nurses. Some states require for psychiatric aides to successfully complete a formal training program before practicing professionally in addition to earning an education. This is to ensure that all practicing psychiatric aides are aware of the importance of their occupation, and also that they have a grasp on the skills and knowledge they need to work with mental health patients.