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Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Nurse Job Description

by William Henderson

Psychiatric consultation liaison nurses, or psychiatric intake nurses, work at acute psychiatric care facilities, hospital emergency rooms and mental health clinics. They evaluate the mental health of patients, recommend treatment and provide care options and participate in discharge planning.

Primary Responsibilities

As a psychiatric consultation liaison nurse, you often work with patients in crisis, such as those thinking about committing suicide or addicted to legal and illegal substances. You'll take a patient’s medical and family history and must quickly assess what risk your patient presents, determine the best course of treatment and prescribe medication when necessary. Your patient’s treatment and care plan may keep you directly involved, or you may consult with the medical team that provides such care.

Secondary Responsibilities

While your primary responsibility is to your patient, you may need to talk to your patient’s support system, such as family members or friends. You'll take part in a patient’s discharge planning, utilization review and completion of paperwork required for insurance reimbursement. Usually, you'll report to a medical director or a supervising psychiatrist. Some employers may require you to develop and lead on-site training and also remain current on best practices by taking continuing-education courses.

Education and Experience

To work as a psychiatric consultation liaison nurse, you must hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Some employers may also require you to have a master’s degree and undergo specialized training, such as in crisis intervention prevention. To qualify for most jobs, you should have between one and two years of relevant clinical experience.

Licensure and Certification

You must hold a license as a registered nurse in the state where you work. An employer may also require you to have a license as an advanced practice nurse. Certification as a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner may increase your job opportunities, as can a controlled substance license.

Skills for Success

As a psychiatric consultation liaison nurse, you must be able to stay calm under pressure, be an effective communicator, be able to identify and resolve problems and have impeccable decision-making skills. While you may perform most of your work independently, you should also be able to work well with others. You should have a thorough understanding of psychopharmacology, understand how to identify, assess and treat addictive diseases, be able to multitask and be familiar with your employer’s documentation processes.

About the Author

William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.

Photo Credits

  • Andrea Morini/Photodisc/Getty Images