Top 5 Psych NP Must Have Resources

As a busy psychiatric provider in practice or overwhelmed psych NP student, there’s too much information out there to sift through it all to know what’s truly helpful and what to ignore. So I curated a list of 5 must have resources all psychiatric providers should use in practice. 

1. DSM 5 and its spin offs – Desk Reference to the DSM, DSM 5 Made Easy, and DSM Differential Diagnosis 

Ok so the first and most staple resource a psychiatric provider should have is the DSM. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the “Bible” of psychiatry. It’s a great fundamental resource to have, especially when you’re unclear on diagnosis or considering differential diagnoses. I’ve been in practice for years now and I still reference it to see that I’m accurately diagnosing disorders like schizoaffective disorder instead of bipolar disorder with psychotic features. 

There are a ton of spin off DSM references that you might want to have as well.

The Desk Reference to the DSM is a pocket-sized reference and basically a smaller, more concise version of the larger DSM 5. It’s a great, quick reference for diagnostic criteria and billing/coding.

DSM 5 Made Easy is great because it includes case studies or vignettes to understand typical patient presentations. It really helps you get a sense of what each diagnosis looks like so you can more easily spot it in practice.

The DSM Differential Diagnosis is another good resource, because as psychiatric providers not every patient presenting to us has a condition that is black and white. The skill of considering differential diagnoses, is just that, a skill. This book provides a diagnostic framework for how to develop an accurate diagnosis and differentials to consider.

2. UptoDate and Epocrates

Most of the references you’ll encounter are books but I just want to highlight two useful digital tools.

UptoDate is a great resource for, as you might guess, up to date clinical information. The company’s tagline is that they’re “the most trusted evidence-based clinical decision support resource at the point of care”. And that’s exactly what it is. 

UptoDate is robust and easy to navigate with good headings and subheadings to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

It is one of the more expensive resources you might use. I’ve been fortunate for employers to cover the expense in past jobs but as of 2023, an annual prescription to UptoDate costs $579 out of pocket for NPs in practice and it’s $219 for NP students. If you receive continuing education funds, putting that towards covering the cost of an UpToDate subscription would be a solid investment. 

Epocrates is another useful digital reference. It provides clinical reference info on drugs, diseases, and patient management. Epocrates is available on desktop or an app. I tend to use the app to look at drug interactions or starting dose recommendations for various medications. 

3. Stahl’s Prescriber’s Guide 

The king of psychopharmacology is Stephen Stahl and his Prescriber’s Guide is definitely a good go-to on up to date and practical use of psychotropic medications. 

This book is super easy to reference because each drug is clearly labeled alphabetically and the format of doses, indications, common side effects among other information is readily accessible. I used this book heavily in my first year of practice and still refer back to it from time to time today. Sticky notes of frequently used drugs are popping out all over my copy of this book.

4. Clinical Laboratory Medicine for Mental Health Professionals

Clinical Laboratory Medicine for Mental Health Professionals is a great guide to ordering and interpreting lab results for psychiatric providers. For each lab test, there’s an explanation of the test, numerical reference ranges, critical values for test results, the test’s relevancy to psychiatry (that’s an important one) and a potential meaning of abnormal results. This is a great reference for psychiatric providers. I, for one, never felt my program adequately prepared me on lab interpretation and if you can relate, this is a good book for you. 

5. Pocket Psychiatry, Puckett, Beach, Taylor 

Last, but not least, is Pocket Psychiatry. It may be pocket size but it packs a huge punch. Pocket psychiatry is an essential resource for psychiatric providers. It’s an on-the-go reference for all things psychiatry. 

It’s written by residents for residents but it’s really an excellent resource for any psychiatric provider. Pocket Psychiatry has an easy to use format, designed to help students or providers in practice navigate the initial psychiatric evaluation and management of the most commonly encountered psychiatric conditions

So, there you have it. 5 resources every Psych NP student or psych provider in practice should know and use. 

Go here for more clinical resources in practice, including free training on how to diagnose and treat important mental disorders confidently and stress free. 

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