Psychiatric nurse practitioners specialize in the mental health of patients. They can manage anything from autism to depression to schizophrenia. Depending on where they work, the dress code can be variable.

Psychiatric NPs working in acute care (i.e., emergency rooms or inpatient units) may wear scrubs and a lab coat with the facility logo. They can also wear professional, business attire with or without a lab coat. It depends on the facility.

Psychiatric NPs working in the clinic setting can wear business attire. A lab coat may or may not be required by the organization. Some feel that providers who do not wear scrubs and a lab coat are more "approachable" therefore allowing patients to be more receptive to care. It helps place patients at ease and makes them feel more comfortable. Many psychiatric nurse practitioners prefer a less "clinical" environment when treating patients, and shunning the scrubs and lab coat helps build a quiet, comforting environment.

Regardless of the setting, psychiatric nurse practitioners must also consider safety when choosing professional attire. Sometimes patients experience acute mental illnesses and may view the provider as a threat. Dangling jewelry, lanyards, strings, neckties, and even belt loops can be grabbed and used to harm a provider. Dressing for safety as well as professionalism is essential in the field of mental health.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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