Mental Health Care: Another Path in Medicine

By Lydia McAllister on Friday, September 25, 2020

Brandis Wheat began her health care career as a registered nurse. She was drawn to the field because of the job stability and the wide-ranging specialties within the nursing profession. “Nurses can care for patients at the bedside, help develop electronic medical records, teach or even diagnose patients by becoming a practitioner,” she says.

Brandis found her specialty in mental health and psychiatric nursing. She worked at the Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas for five years where she helped both children and adults work through mental health struggles. Currently, Brandis is a faculty member in the University of Central Arkansas’ School of Nursing where she teaches Pharmacology.

When did you discover health care as a passion?
“I first became passionate about health care during my clinical rotations in nursing school. You don’t get to really see what nursing is like until you start going to the hospitals. It was important to see what the nurses were doing, but I also loved the way all of the staff worked together. Seeing the health care team as a whole made me understand that they weren’t just there for a paycheck. They really cared about the patients.”

What kept you going back to your job every day as a psychiatric nurse?
“It was really the feeling of helping patients get through a very hard time in their lives. The most satisfying part of working in a psychiatric hospital was when I was with a patient from admission to discharge. Most of the time, they were completely different people than when I first met them, and no matter how upset they were to be in the hospital, they almost always left grateful.”

What’s one thing you wish people knew about your field?
“That mental illness should be treated just like physical illness should be treated.”

VITALS – Brandis Wheat

Job: Clinical Instructor
Employer: University of Central Arkansas, Conway

Associate degree in nursing:
Baptist Health College Little Rock
Bachelor's degree in nursing: Arkansas Tech University, Russellville
Master's degree in nursing: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock

Certification: Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner