Psychiatric Attendant Jobs: What You Need To Know About This Interesting And Challenging Career

Health & Medical Blog

Psychiatric attendants or aides (PA) and technicians typically work in state mental health hospitals and other psychiatric facilities, in the mental health units of local hospitals, or veteran's hospitals:

Training and Education

You would need a high school diploma or equivalent to apply. Training is done in-house typically but CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) training/certification and/or experience is helpful and applicable to the job. So is QMA (Qualified Medication Aide) training and certification.

PA training could include some nursing skills such as taking vitals (temperature, pulse, respiration, blood pressure) , CPR and first aide training, charting and more. You will also have training on psychiatric conditions, mental health issues, behavior modification techniques, and how to give educational programs.

Job Responsibilities

Your job will most likely call on you to use many of your personal talents and skills, engage in multi-tasking, and it will be challenging at times. It will require patience and understanding, and assertiveness on your part. A gentle sense of humor is optional but you will find it comes in handy. You will need to be a team player to be successful.

If you are working with nursing staff, you will be doing many CNA type duties to monitor patient health. You will provide education and assistance in activities of daily living (ADL's) such as dental or physical hygiene, dressing, and room maintenance. You may also be trained to give medications, and this would depend on the laws of the state you live in, plus what training/certification is required to do this.

You may be working with patients who have not only have mental issues and substance abuse disorders but also physical illnesses and disabilities. Your facility may have a geriatric unit as well.

If you are working under the supervision of psychological or social work staff, your duties will be less medically oriented and they will include  providing educational programs to groups of patients or assisting other staff to do so. You may also provide activities for patients such as arts and crafts, and you may take them off-grounds on outings or to medical appointments.

You will be recording notes in the patient's chart/record about health, mood, or behavioral issues on a regular basis. You will use basic computer skills such as email communication and data entry. You will receive in-service training on various aspects of your job through-out the year.

Nursing and psychological professionals are often a kind and understanding sort who like to train and mentor people, so they can be great to work with, and for. 


You will work under the direction of nurses or psychiatric professionals in the facility where you are hired.

Pay Expectations

The median pay for an experienced psychiatric aide is around $30,000 a year and full-time aides typically receive health insurance, vacation pay, and other benefits. There will probably be  opportunities for overtime work as well.

Job Advancement

Being a psychiatric aide is a fulfilling job in itself, and many people are content to work to retirement in this capacity.

However, it is not uncommon for a psychiatric aide to attend college part-time on the side and become professional in psychiatric nursing, social work, or psychology. Your psychiatric aide experience would serve you well if you do this. Contact a company such as SOS Healthcare Staffing with any more questions you have.


12 August 2015

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