Building a psychotopic medication education program for newly hired nurses in behavioral health

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Nursing orientation programs exist to educate and prepare newly hired nurses for their positions. Nurses who are hired to a behavioral health facility often have no previous experience in psychiatry or with medications used to treat psychiatric patients. These medications carry specific risks and adverse effects that can lead to serious, life threatening complications if patients are not monitored or properly educated about potential side effects. Education on medications for nurses during orientation can easily be overlooked. The purpose of this project was to develop and implement a comprehensive training program about psychiatric medications to deliver to newly hired nurses in a child and adolescent behavioral health facility. The project was created from evidenced-based neuroscience research on psychiatric medications, adverse medication syndromes, and movement disorders associated with the use of psychotropic medications. The ninety minute training module included a posttest and an evaluation form. After implementing the program, the nurses expressed an enhanced knowledge base of medications used in psychiatry, an increased awareness of how to monitor for medication side effects or adverse events, and more confidence with teaching patients about their medications. The effectiveness of the program strongly suggested a permanent place for this training during orientation in a behavioral health facility, and one that would include the role of a psychiatric nurse practitioner as an educator and mentor to the behavioral health nurses.




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