The Strong Interest Inventory® Test analyzes individuals’ personal and occupational preferences and interest patterns to help them find a viable career that will be enjoyable and fulfilling. The Inventory itself sorts careers into six categories based on the client’s pre-assessed interests as well as how the client’s interest patterns compared to those individuals currently functioning in particular careers. Psychiatric Aides fall into the Social Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory®. Social category careers center around caring for, helping, or teaching others. In other words, Social Theme Code careers focus on the human connection, from education and outreach to vocational development, to providing care for the elderly or infirm. People who score high in the Social Category tend to enjoy and be fulfilled by interpersonal interactions.
Psychiatric Aides are responsible for assisting with the care of mentally or emotionally disturbed patients. They typically work under the direction of nursing or medical staff, and assist in all aspects of care, from recording and maintaining records of patients’ medical well-being and treatment, including vital signs (including heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen content, and more), as well as eating habits, progress, treatment and discharge plans. They also monitor patients to assess their mental, physical, and emotional state, including any harmful behavior. These records must be carefully updated and maintained to ensure that any problems are caught and resolved immediately. They also update other staff, including nurses and doctors, and others who may be working with patients, on new developments.
Psychiatric Aides do their best to make patients’ lives as normalized as possible, especially if they must maintain a residence in a care facility. For instance, they may organize or encourage patients to participate in recreational or educational activities, such as playing sports or games, viewing television programs and movies, and going on shopping trips or religious excursions. These behaviors help in-patients feel that they are maintaining or developing their independence, and that their life can return to normal. Aides also assist patients with bathing, grooming, dressing, and other personal hygiene functions. If the patient is on any recurring medications or treatments, Aides ensure that the prescribed doses are administered in a timely fashion. Finally, Aides may communicate patients’ status to parents or others involved in their lives outside of the care facility.
Psychiatric Aides typically do not need to have any kind of specialized software knowledge, though a foundational familiarity with scheduling software and Microsoft Office Suite (including MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, and MS Outlook) is helpful. They do use a wide range of tools involved in medical care, including bedpans, blood collection syringes, oxygen masks, urinalysis and blood sugar test strips, and enema kits. They also use tools capable of transporting patients, such as hydraulic lifts, gurneys, wheelchairs, and even crutches. The exact tools and technologies needed may vary among individual jobs.
In order to successfully perform their job responsibilities, Psychiatric Aides must have a foundational understanding of psychology as well as customer and personal service. Oral and written proficiency in English as well as any other languages spoken by their patients or other care staffing is also very important, since so much of their career revolves around communication and service. Additionally, Psychiatric Aides need strong reasoning skills, and the ability to make confident decisions in a time-sensitive manner, even when they are in stressful or crisis situations. Over 60% of Psychiatric Aides hold only a high school degree, with no college preparation, and under 15% hold a Bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, vocational training is often necessary, as is on the job experience.
Nation-wide, Psychiatric Aides’ salary is, on average, $26,190 annually, though the top 30% in the country averages over $40,000 per year. Smaller hospitals and care centers can pay as little as $18,889, especially in smaller states. However, in a large, expensive city like New York City, Psychiatric Aides’ salary can be as high as $61,000, with the lowest 30% making nearly $30,000. The employment of Psychiatric Aides is expected to rise slowly but steadily, with a projected annual increase of 5% between now and 2020. The total number of jobs added is also fairly significant, with over 2,000 jobs projected to be added across the country in the next several years.
Below are some employment trends for Psychiatric Aides:
- Median Psychiatric Aide’s Salary: $12.59/hour; $26,190 annually
- Employment: 77,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2024): average (5% to 8%)
- Projected job openings (2014-2024): 21,600
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org