Mental Health Registered Nurse

Careers in Mental Health

Troy Ouska, BSN
Mental Health Supervising Nurse

Generic Information

  • Assess patient’s psychological and physical condition
  • Develop nursing care plans
  • Carry out therapeutic treatments prescribed by the interdisciplinary care plan, delegating and assigning appropriate aspects of care to ancillary nursing personnel
  • Collaborate with other nurses, physicians, clinicians, therapists, and allied health professionals as a part of interdisciplinary teams
  • Evaluate patient’s response to treatment and make changes to treatment, when indicated
  • Initiate emergency response activities or behavioral interventions, as required
  • Assist patients in daily living activities such as bathing, oral care, and feeding
  • Keep current and accurate legal written records, including nursing care plans, treatment plans, progress notes, medications, case records of unusual incident reports involving patients
  • Monitor and evaluate work of direct care nursing staff, including certified nursing assistants (CNA’s), certified medication assistants (CMA’s) and licensed practical nurses (LPN’s)
  • Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from an accredited program
  • Passing the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX)
  • Registered Nursing License from the Oregon State Board of Nursing
  • Empathetic active listening skills
  • Clinical knowledge, skills, and abilities in working with persons with mental illness
  • Ability to function independently and as a part of a patient-centered interdisciplinary treatment team
  • Highly attentive to detail, confidentiality, and accuracy
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Nursing and residential care facilities
  • Home healthcare
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Physician’s Office
  • Medical hospitals
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Schools (k12 – universities)
  • Government and community agencies
  • Civil and criminal courts
  • Corrections facilities
  • Military facilities
  • Rehabilitation facilities


Mental Health Registered Nurses are an essential part of each patient’s interdisciplinary care team from admission to discharge. The Mental Health Nurse has primary responsibility for providing nursing care to mentally ill, developmentally disabled and physically ill patients. They develop nursing care plans, delegate nursing care actions for specific patient needs and provide clinical oversight for ancillary nursing staff. Nurses are responsible to oversee and direct all medical and nursing procedures as well as the therapeutic environment for patients. Unlike other nursing positions, nurses at OSH do very little treatment of physical ailments, but instead look at how they can assist with patients mental health, including diffusing aggressive situations, talking and listening to patient needs, and assessing a patient’s condition.


Historically, nurse training has been one of the most important programs at the Oregon State Hospital. Starting in 1944, this program offered three months of intensive psychiatric instruction for students rotating from nursing programs throughout the state. The nurses would typically stay in a dormitory on the north side of Center Street on campus. By 1950, the program was accommodating over 250 students per year from every nursing program in Oregon and was fully accredited by the American Psychiatric Association.

A student nurse survey that was conducted here in 1948, and reported in the American Journal of Nursing, showed that the students found the experience rewarding but challenging. All students expressed a sincere desire to be able to help the patients in some way, but found the transition to psychiatric nursing difficult, and said they could have used more time at the Oregon State Hospital. Several wished they had the experience earlier in their training careers so as to apply the principles taught here to general nursing care.

The current program offers a much shorter rotation and students do not live on campus.

For more information on the educational pathway to this and other healthcare careers follow this Link to the Educational Resource page.

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