Chris Bertsch, PMHNP
Chris initially began his healthcare career as a registered nurse in 2012. He started on a neurological specialty unit in Baltimore, Maryland to gain foundational medical experience before transitioning into the psychiatric specialty. He then worked as a psychiatric nurse for MedStar Health and psychiatric charge nurse for Johns Hopkins Medicine on voluntary and involuntary inpatient units.
It was this experience that confirmed his interest in pursuing the psychiatric specialty and spurred his desire to be able to do more to help his patients. Therefore, he earned a degree as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) in 2017 after graduating from the country’s #1 ranked PMHNP program at Vanderbilt University. Since becoming a board certified PMHNP, Chris has autonomously treated an assortment of psychiatric diagnoses in outpatient, inpatient, and partial hospitalization settings. He enjoys seeing patients improve regardless of their diagnosis but particularly enjoys treating adults for mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders in an outpatient setting. Chris has since transitioned to private practice so he can spend more time with his patients while simultaneously offering them a much more affordable rate on services.
“ I have always believed in providing the same level of care and service to my patients that I would want for myself or loved ones in their position. I try to educate individuals and involve them in the decision making process as much as possible. We work together to find solutions that are mutually acceptable. I do not believe in dictating what treatment will be when one has the capacity to be engaged in meaningful decision making. When there are multiple treatment modalities I prefer to lay out the options, present the pros and cons, provide my clinical opinion, and then let individuals decide what course of treatment they believe will be best for their unique situation (within a reasonable framework). It is important they are comfortable with the treatment plan chosen. Medications are a tool, and the potential benefits need to outweigh the risks. I believe in prescribing the fewest medications necessary in the lowest dose possible to achieve desired results. Therapy can also be a vital component of treatment. The best outcomes are often (but not always) believed to be achieved through a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Individual preference and beliefs can heavily influence outcomes and tailoring treatment is necessary for best results. I also believe it is important to evaluate lab work and diagnostic testing to rule out medical disorders that can present with psychiatric symptoms, evaluate environmental and lifestyle factors, consider alternate forms of non-pharmacological treatment, contemplate gene testing (limited current value), and assess many other factors and variables in any given case. Due to the unfortunate historical stigma attached to mental illness that has hindered research, coupled with the complexity of the brain, our understanding of the pathology underlying psychiatric illness is still in its infancy. I have been able to effectively treat many patients with psychotropic medications. However, I always strive to be as honest, transparent, and pragmatic as possible when discussing options, likely outcomes, and downsides of any particular treatment strategy. This way my patients can make the best possible informed decisions. ” – Chris Bertsch, PMHNP