What is a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?
Definition of a PMHNP
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) are APRNs who provide advanced psychiatric care and mental health services to patients of all ages. PMHNPs perform psychiatric assessments & evaluations, diagnose psychiatric disorders & mental illnesses, create & administer plans of care, promote self-care & wellness, and manage medications & labs (this is a biggie!).
- As case managers & patient advocates, PMHNPs often end up coordinating services for folks with complex psychiatric issues.
- As therapists, PMHNPs may be responsible for organizing psychotherapy sessions, counseling clients with chronic psychiatric conditions, and intervening in acute mental health crises (e.g. traumatic events).
- As key members of interdisciplinary healthcare teams, PMHNPs work closely with primary care providers, doctors, social workers, and psychiatrists.
- As nursing specialists, PMHNPs can choose to focus on an area of particular interest (e.g. adolescence, substance abuse, geropsych, PTSD, etc.).
Common healthcare settings for PMHNPs include:
- In-patient psychiatric facilities & hospital practices
- Outpatient community mental health centers (urban & rural)
- Private psychiatric practices
- Domestic violence shelters
- Residential substance abuse facilities
- Home healthcare agencies
- Correctional facilities, prisons & court clinics
- Veterans Administration (VA) psychiatric facilities
- Emergency Departments (EDs)
- School-based programs
In certain workplaces (e.g. private practices, rural hospitals, etc.), PMHNPs may have a great deal of autonomy.
PMHNP & Prescriptive Authority
Prescriptive authority is regulated by state law. Although all State Boards of Nursing allow certified & licensed PMHNPs to prescribe, states have different rules about the scope of practice.
- In some states, you may have full practice authority (i.e. independent prescribing without oversight).
- In other states, you may need to be supervised by a psychiatrist/physician.
Your prescriptive authority will also depend upon your job title. Currently, there are two types of Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (PMH-APRNs) :
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP): Before they will grant you a state license, most State Boards of Nursing will want to see that you have PMHNP certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Once you are licensed as an APRN & certified as a PMHNP, you’ll be permitted to prescribe under the terms we’ve outlined above. If you’d like more info on a PMHNP’s scope of practice, the APNA has a helpful State by State Practice Authority Guide for APRNs, available to APNA members.
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMH-CNS): Some State Boards will not allow clinical nurse specialists to prescribe. Other State Boards are willing to grant prescriptive practice to PMH-CNSs who have taken graduate courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and physical health assessment and have current ANCC certification. If you’re interested in the prescriptive authority of CNSs, check out the NCSBN’s CNS Independent Prescribing Map.
Keep in mind that the ANCC has publicly stated that it’s moving toward one role for APRNs involved in psychiatry & mental health (i.e. the PMHNP), which means PMH-CNS graduate programs no longer exist. As of 2018, ANCC’s Adult PMH-CNS and Child/Adolescent PMH-CNS credentials were only available for renewal.
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner vs. Other Specialties
PMHNP vs. FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner)
A lot of aspiring nurse practitioners with an interest in mental healthcare run into the same debate—should they opt for the flexible FNP or the focused PMHNP? There’s no “right” answer to this question, but here are some career points to consider:
- PMHNP: PMHNPs may be able to demand a higher salary, especially in areas where there is a shortage of mental health professionals. Thanks to their training, they may also be better equipped to deal with complex psychiatric conditions, which makes them attractive job candidates to psychiatrists and specialist facilities. In certain states, they have a great deal of independence (check with your State Board of Nursing for details).
- FNP: As medical generalists, FNPs will have a wide range of job opportunities—especially in primary care—upon graduation. They tend to see more patients per day than PMHNPs, which makes a difference to a practice’s earnings. From their front-line position, they can be of immediate help to patients who are suffering. And they’re not limited to specific work settings or psychiatric tasks.
Prior experience helps a lot here—try to work in an in-patient psychiatric setting before you make a decision. Examine job descriptions in your dream career to see what certification employers are demanding. Talk to current PMHNPs and read the online discussions (there are many!).
Note: Remember, too, that choosing an RN to MSN FNP program gives you the option to earn a post-master’s certificate or DNP in psychiatry and qualify for national certification (PMHNP-BC) later down the line.
RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs
RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP: Overview
RN to MSN PMHNP programs are tailor-made for working RNs who have a diploma or an associate’s degree (e.g. ASN/ADN) and want to pursue an MSN or MS to become a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). There are also RN to MSN PMHNP programs for RNs with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.
In our directory, you’ll spot:
- Concentration/Track: RN to MSN Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs with a concentration or track in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialty. These are the most popular offering, and you can have your pick of on-campus or online programs.
- Family PMHNP: Programs that have titles such as “Psychiatric Family Nurse Practitioner” or “Family Psychiatric Mental Health NP.” These titles are a hangover from when the ANCC offered a FPMHNP certification. Nowadays, any Family PMHNP curriculum should prepare you for PMHNP certification. If you have concerns, talk to the program coordinator.
- Dual Concentration: RN to MSN programs that allow you to tackle two NP specialties during graduate school. There are dual focus FNP/PMHNP degrees out there (e.g. University of Tennesse, University of Iowa, etc.), but they are rare. And many schools will expect you to have a BSN before you can apply.
- Sub-Specialty: RN to MSN PMHNP programs that give you the chance to focus on a particular area of interest (e.g. Southern Adventist University’s Emphasis in Primary Care—Psychiatric Mental Health).
Because Schools of Nursing like to play to their strengths, you’re going to see a lot of variation in RN to MSN PMHNP programs. Examine the coursework & clinical components carefully to decide if they cover your areas of interest.
RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP: Admissions
All RN to MSN Nurse Practitioner programs—regardless of the specialty—tend to share the same prerequisites: a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing (unless you have a bachelor’s in another field), a current RN license, at least one year of RN clinical experience, a baseline undergraduate GPA (usually 2.75-3.0), and letters of professional reference. See our guide to RN to MSN Nurse Practitioner Programs for details.
Above all, try to ensure your previous RN work has prepared you for the realities of psychiatry. For example, the University of North Carolina requires MSN applicants to have completed at least 6 months of full-time work in an acute or community setting dealing with psychiatric illness & substance abuse. You need to go into a PMHNP graduate program with both eyes open.
RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP: Undergraduate Phase
Keep in mind that you must earn good grades on prerequisite undergraduate courses (e.g. community-based nursing, health policy, ethics & genomics, applied statistics, etc.) before the university will allow you to tackle the master’s degree. This phase might take anywhere from 6 months-2 years to complete (depending on the school).
Have a look at our guide to RN to MSN Nurse Practitioner Programs for more info.
RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP: MSN Curriculum
Once you’ve made it to the graduate level, standard MSN or MS degrees take around 1-3 years to complete. Approximately 70% of the master’s degree is going to involve didactic coursework (i.e. traditional classroom learning). For PMHNP programs, you’ll be taking:
- Foundation Courses: Almost all PMHNP and Family PMHNP programs contain courses in leadership, evidence-based practice, physical/healthcare assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. This set of mandatory subjects is often called the “Nursing Core.” A number of these courses are required for certification.
- Concentration Courses: Schools of Nursing love to include psychopharmacology and psychopathology in a PMHNP concentration. You may also see courses devoted to the mental health of population groups (e.g. children, adolescents, adults & geriatrics) and specific areas of concern (e.g. substance & relationship abuse; group/family therapy; counseling; neuroscience; biological and behavioral components, etc.).
- Electives: In some circumstances, you’ll be able to choose a few electives. But many PMHNP programs have a fixed curriculum and that’s that.
Look for hardcore science coursework, especially when it comes to pharmacology. Psychiatric patients often have co-morbidities that affect their medication regimens (e.g. unexpected side effects and drug interactions) and PMHNPs can be in charge of handling them.
Finally, whatever program you fancy, be sure it meets the education prerequisites & covers the exam topics for PMHNP certification.
RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health NP: MSN Clinical Hours / Practicums
Here’s your chance to dig deep. On top of being required for state licensure & certification, clinical practicums (a.k.a. clinical rotations) are an excellent way to build up your psychiatric nursing skills, establish a reputation for top-notch mental healthcare, and find employment contacts. Programs will often aim to give you 600-800 total hours of direct patient care (i.e. around 30% of the master’s degree).
During your PMHNP clinical work, Schools of Nursing may decide to expose you to:
- Acute & Primary Care Settings: For example, one clinical rotation could focus on caring for acute & chronic psychiatric patients through an in-patient setting. Another rotation might involve primary care work in a community mental health center, ER, or private practice.
- Psychiatric Care of Adults vs. Children: For instance, Georgia State University has two clinical rotations in advanced psychiatric care: one for adults & older adults and one for children. Union University also has separate rotations for the management of acute & chronic mental health disorders: children and adolescents and adult/geriatric populations.
- Therapy Practicums: This clinical rotation frequently covers group & family therapy, as well as individual therapy.
Consider your career goals when you’re looking at clinical hours. For example, if you enjoy caring for families, you might want a PMHNP program that includes plenty of exposure to primary care, therapy, and counseling. If you’d like to work in a hospital-based psychiatry practice or the VA, ask if the School of Nursing can help you arrange practicums in those facilities.
Online RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs
Are Online RN to MSN PMHNP Programs Available?
Yes. A modest number of universities in our directory now offer Online RN to MSN Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degrees. However, we should point out that you’ll find much more variety in Online RN to MSN Family Nurse Practitioner Programs. Feel free to compare the two!
- Undergraduate Phase: Just like an on-campus RN to MSN program, you’ll be required to earn credits in upper-level undergraduate courses before you can proceed to the MS or MSN. These courses are usually offered through distance learning, making it easy to work while you study.
- Graduate Phase: It’s relatively easy to take standard MS or MSN courses online, but remember that you must participate in clinical practicums in order to graduate. You can earn your clinical hours in your own community. On the other hand, you may be expected to find the site and a clinical preceptor who is willing to supervise you.
Another thing to watch out for? Any program that claims it’s 100% online. A number of universities—especially the ones with good reputations—will expect you to visit the campus (at least once) for training and assessment. For example:
- The University of Rochester PMHNP program includes short on-campus residencies with hands-on practice opportunities.
- The University of Mississippi has plenty of online PMHNP courses, but some require intensives that meet on campus two times per semester.
- East Tennessee State University may require PMHNP students to be on campus for certain classes or assessments, including clinical proficiencies & competencies.
We give “two thumbs up” to online programs with on-campus components—the hands-on training and networking opportunities are invaluable—but they will involve extra costs (e.g. travel expenses). Budget for every part of the degree.
Online RN to MSN PMHNP Programs & State Licensure
We’re tempted to stick this caution in BIG, BOLD WRITING! Before you commit to an Online RN to MSN PMHNP program, check with your State Board of Nursing and the program coordinator about APRN state licensure. State Boards have specific rules and regulations regarding clinical learning experiences for students enrolled in distance education programs. Be sure your degree components will meet licensure requirements in your state.
For example, in its Program FAQ section, East Tennessee State University notes that is unable to accept applications from a number of states due to restrictions imposed on distance education programs by the board of education or board of nursing. Those states include Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington.
You’ll find info about out-of-state applications in the program’s FAQ section or on the university’s State Regulation page. The language can be confusing, so feel free to ask for clarification!
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certification
Overview of PMHNP Certification
The road to becoming a PMHNP begins with the first four steps outlined in How to Become a Nurse Practitioner. Once you have decided to pursue your graduate degree in Psychiatric-Mental Health NP and looked into state licensure requirements (Steps 3 & 4), you can tackle national certification.
Before you can practice as a Psychiatric-Mental Health APRN, most State Nursing Boards will require you to earn the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC) credential from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This was once known as the Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner credential, and you’ll still see active APRNs who have FPMHNP-BC initials after their name.
Solid RN to MSN PMHNP programs will help prepare you for the PMHNP-BC certification exam. Great ones will brag about their pass rates! For instance, Shenandoah University likes to boast that graduates of its PMHNP program have achieve a 100% pass rate over the past three years.
The PMHNP-BC is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). To gain it, you must:
- Hold a current, active RN license.
- Earn a master’s (e.g. MS or MSN), postgraduate, or doctoral degree (e.g. DNP) from a PMHNP program accredited by the CCNE or ACEN.
- Tackle graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology, as well as coursework in health promotion/maintenance, differential diagnosis, and disease management (including the use and prescription of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions).
- Complete a minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours during your PMHNP program, including clinical training in at least two psychotherapeutic treatment modalities.
- Take & pass the national PMHNP-BC exam.
- Keep your certification & licensure up-to-date through continuing education. The certification period lasts 5 years.
Sub-Specialty PMHNP Certifications
Are you planning to work with addicts? The Addictions Nursing Certification Board (ANCB) offers a CARN-AP credential that is worth considering. To gain it, you must:
- Hold a current, active RN license.
- Earn a master’s degree (or higher) in nursing.
- Complete a minimum of 500 supervised, direct client contact hours in advanced clinical practice. These hours must involve working with individuals and families impacted by addictions/dual diagnoses. Only hours earned within the last four years will be considered; you can use your master’s degree clinical practicums.
- Complete a minimum of 1,500 hours of nursing experience in addiction as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) within the last three years.
- Complete 45 contact hours of approved continuing education in addictions within the last three years. 51% of the hours must be specific to addictions nursing; the remaining hours must be related to addictions nursing (e.g. HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, pain management, etc.)
- Pass the CARN-AP exam.
- Keep your certification & licensure up-to-date through continuing education.
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Careers
As you can see from the list of common work settings, PMHNPs have a range of opportunities in primary care & acute care. The employment market isn’t vast for new grads, but with the right attack, you can emerge from your program with a job-in-hand. The trick is to plan ahead:
- Career Planning: Look for Schools of Nursing that offer career counseling, professional & career development workshops, and job fairs. Do they post PMHNP job openings on their website? Do they have local partnerships with major healthcare providers (e.g. hospitals, outpatient clinics, psychiatric facilities, etc.)? Can they connect you to potential employers through clinical rotations?
- Alumni Opinions: Ask the program coordinator about the alumni employment rate. Then get in touch with some of those alumni through LinkedIn to see how they’re doing. How hard was it for them to find a job? Did the PMHNP coursework & clinical hours prepare them for the real world?
- Bonus Clinical Experience: Try to fit in as much psychiatric & mental health work experience as you can—before you enroll in the program and while you’re studying. The clinical rotations are helpful, but you’ll really stand out if you’ve got some street smarts (e.g. caring for complex patients, working with acute psychiatric cases, helping adolescents with mental health issues, etc.). It’s one of the reasons some RNs continue to work part-time while they study.
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Job Openings
- AANP Job Center: Filter by job setting (i.e. Psychiatric-Mental Health) for the best results.
- APNA Career Center: Job postings for PMH nurses.
- Indeed: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs; PMHNP Jobs; PMHNP Psych Nurse Practitioner Jobs.
- Glassdoor: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs; Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Jobs.
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Salaries
For salary estimates, start with Glassdoor’s pages on Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salaries & Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Salaries, Indeed’s page on Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Salaries, and Payscale’s page on Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Salaries. In 2018, average salaries ranged from $98,000-$130,000.
You can compare these numbers with the AANP National NP Compensation Survey (free for AANP members) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides annual occupational statistics for Nurse Practitioners. The BLS posts wage & salary figures for specialty hospitals, but unfortunately that category excludes specialty psychiatric and substance abuse. However, if you’re interested in primary care work settings:
- In 2017, the average mean wage for NPs in Outpatient Care Centers was $111,690 ($53.70 per hour).
- In 2017, he average mean wage for NPs in Offices of Physicians was $105,730 ($50.83 per hour).
Generally speaking, the PMHNP is one of the best paid NP specialties (NNP is the other), but geography plays a large part in the equation. For example:
- Hospitals and outpatient practices in areas with few PMHNPs may be more than happy to pay big numbers to new grads.
- But cities and metro areas with a glut of PMHNPs can be much less generous; they may also want to see candidates with a few years of experience.
Though they don’t distinguish by specialty, BLS’s national NP maps will show you states & metro areas with the highest level of employment and the best wages for nurse practitioners. Keep in mind that the cost of living in urban areas will be higher, too.
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Resources
PMHNP Certification Bodies
PMHNP Professional Associations
- American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA)
- International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA)
- International Society for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
PMHNP Conferences & Events
- APNA Annual Conference
- APNA 16th Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute (CPI)
- ISPN Annual Conference
- NAMI National Convention
- Neuroscience Education Institute (NEI) Psychopharmacology Conference
- Journal for Nurse Practitioners
- Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (JAANP)
- Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing
PMHNP Useful Resources
- APNA Career Center
- APNA Resource Center
- International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression
- Mental Health Associations
- NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
- State by State Practice Authority Guide for APRNs (Available to APNA Members)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The School of Nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track for its Master of Science in Nursing. This is a 45-credit program that combines synchronous online classes with on-campus intensives. During the intensives, students master skills through simulations and lab experiences. In the final four semesters of the Nurse Practitioner program, students must participate in four intensives held on the UAB campus in downtown Birmingham. PMHNP students complete three practicum experiences where they work under the supervision of preceptors. UAB nursing instructors are involved in a variety of research in the psychiatric/mental health field, including veteran's mental health, addiction and substance abuse, the mental health of internationally adopted children, children in foster care, and personality disorders.
The University of South Alabama offers a Psychiatric (Family) Nurse Practitioner master's degree that prepares nurses to provide care to children, adolescents, and adults experiencing a continuum of psychiatric illnesses. Students who enter this program should be prepared to work with children as well as adults while completing their degree. The coursework for this degree is delivered online. However, students in the psychiatric track are required to attend a two-day clinical orientation in Mobile, Alabama, when they take their first specialty classes. The orientation event includes clinical skills workshops. The curriculum for this degree requires 45 credits. Students complete three clinical practicums and accumulate at least 600 clinical hours working with a preceptor in their home community. Graduates are eligible to take the certification exam for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan). Students should have two years of psychiatric nursing experience before they begin the clinical courses.
Nova Southeastern University has a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program that is based at its Miramar, Florida, campus. The program is presented in a hybrid form, with some classes completely online and others that combine in-person meetings and online elements. Students are required to live within 150 miles of the campus. The curriculum requires students to complete 52 credits, including didactic and clinical classes. PMHNP students take 15 credits in core nursing courses. Some of the classes in the specialty include neurobiology, psychopharmacology, developmental theories for child mental health, and modalities of psychotherapy. Students complete four practicum experiences, each requiring 125 clinical hours, plus a health assessment lab with 62.5 practicum hours for a total of more than 560 clinical hours. The longer practicum experiences each have a focus, such as children and adolescents, psychotherapy, and role integration.
Georgia State University's Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions has a master's program in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The 48-credit curriculum includes 22 credits in core nursing courses. Classes are delivered in a distance learning format, but core classes meet on campus the first day of class, and specialized courses may require up to four meetings at the campus in Atlanta. Specialized courses include theories of advanced psychiatric nursing, psychiatric care for individuals, mental health nursing of families and groups, and psychopharmacology. During clinical rounds, PMHNP students get hands-on experience in caring for adults, children, and adolescents. They also get experience in family and group therapy. The curriculum includes more than 500 clinical hours. The School of Nursing has a variety of scholarships available to graduate students, such as the Marshall L. Bough Scholarship, which has a $2,000 annual award, and the Kaiser Permanente Endowed Nursing Scholarship Fund.
Lewis University offers its Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner MSN online or through in-person classes at the Oak Brook, Illinois, campus. Nurses learn how to provide care for patients across the lifespan dealing with mental health issues ranging from anxiety and substance abuse to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Students complete 49 credits and at least 540 clinical hours. The curriculum includes 18 credits in core courses, 13 credits in the Nurse Practitioner core, and 18 credits in the PMHNP track. Classes include psychiatric assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology. Students must also complete a scholarly inquiry where they develop a research proposal for improving health care outcomes using evidence-based practice. Lewis admits students to the graduate nursing program for enrollment in the spring or fall semester. Lewis offers tuition discounts to members of the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, Lewis University alumni, and employees of partner health care organizations.
Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing offers an MSN in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner that enables students to seek national certification as a PMHNP. The master's degree requires 49 graduate-level credits, and students can complete the requirements in about four years, including two summer sessions. The final four semesters are dedicated to the PMHNP specialty classes, including advanced assessment and therapeutic interventions, diagnosis and management of children and adolescents, and diagnosis and management of adults and specialty populations. Students are also required to complete four semester-long practicum experiences. Other required classes include advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacotherapeutics, family mental health psychopharmacology, and health assessment. Students also gain skills in biostatistics, analysis of evidence-based practice, and epidemiology. Saint Francis accepts students in the fall and spring semesters.
RNs who want to work in the mental health field can earn an MSN with a concentration in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner through the Leach College of Nursing at the University of St. Francis. This program is open to students in the RN-BN-MSN program. The curriculum for this degree includes 16 credits in core graduate nursing classes and 16 credits in the advanced practice core, including pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice psychiatric nursing. Students also complete three practica courses in clinical management for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. All PMHNP candidates must complete a final comprehensive exam that covers professional role development, managing psychiatric disorders, lifespan considerations, and nursing research. Students in this program have the option of taking two nursing education courses and completing a nursing education practicum to expand the number of practice roles they qualify for.
The IUPUI School of Nursing offers its Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner MSN in a distance-accessible format. This format includes online classes and synchronous sessions where students can use videoconferencing technology to attend rather than having to come to campus. However, the required class in physical assessment requires students to come to campus five times for lab days. Students in the PMHNP track gain skills in areas such as case management, professional leadership, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The curriculum includes 42 credits and 535 clinical hours, which students can complete anywhere in Indiana. The program admits students in the fall semester and uses traditional 16-week semesters in the fall and spring. Summer sessions last for 12 weeks. Graduates are eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a certified PMHNP. They are also prepared for employment in settings such as community mental health centers, private group practices, and hospitals.
Allen College has an MSN in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner that covers comprehensive psychiatric nursing care to patients throughout the lifespan. The curriculum includes psychiatric assessment, diagnosis, and interventions with age-appropriate options. To gain hands-on experience, students complete supervised clinical practicums in mental health settings. Nurses may complete clinical rounds in hospital psychiatric units, community mental health centers, private practices, or emergency departments. Students are expected to identify a preceptor to work with. The preceptor should be either a PMHNP or a psychiatrist with at least a year of experience. The college recommends that students who opt for this track have some direct experience in psychiatric nursing, although it is not a requirement for admittance. This 45-credit program includes 19 credits in core MSN classes and 26 credits in PMHNP. Classes are delivered in a hybrid format but students are required to come to campus for scheduled meetings.
The School of Nursing at Southern Maine University as a Master of Science in Nursing - Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (across the lifespan) program that RN to MSN students can enter. This program prepares nurses to work with individuals, families, and groups across the lifespan. Graduates are prepared to take the national certification test for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. This is a 53-credit degree that full-time students can complete in four to six semesters. Part-time students can earn the degree in six to eight semesters. Students complete 600 clinical hours, which meets national certification standards. Practicums provide experience in working with adults and older adults, children and families, groups, and vulnerable populations. Students in this program may be eligible for scholarships such as the Catharine Wilder Guiles Scholarship, which awards $2,000 to a student preparing for a career in mental health.
Regis College has a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track that students can complete online or through classes at the Regis campus in Weston, Massachusetts. Students in this program learn to provide diagnostic evaluations, create a treatment plan, manage psychotropic medications, and provide therapy. The curriculum requires 49 credits, including 24 credits in the nursing core. Once they've completed core classes, students take specialty classes such as psychopharmacology and contemporary psychotherapies. Students also complete two classes and accompanying practicum experiences in primary care of psychiatric mental health, where they complete a total of 600 clinical hours. Regis College's online MSN delivers all coursework online with no need for students to come to campus. Students work with a preceptor in their community to complete clinical hours. Graduates are eligible to take the certification exam for PMHNP.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center has a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track that is open to students in the RN to MSN program. Classes for this track are delivered online, but some courses require students to attend intensives on the campus in Jackson, Mississippi, twice a semester. Additionally, clinical experiences in this track must be completed in Mississippi. Students in the RN to MSN program complete 62 credits and 630 clinical hours to earn this Master of Science in Nursing degree. Courses and practicum for this degree have a rural focus and cover the entire lifespan. Students complete three semesters of clinical rotations, with the final 270-hour practicum focused on providing psychoeducation, supportive therapy, and psychotherapy and to synthesize the PMHNP role in a rural health care setting. Candidates can complete the entire RN to MSN PMHNP program in six semesters.
The Master of Science in Nursing with a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner focus at Rivier University is an online program with low residency requirements for events at the campus in Nashua, New Hampshire. During those residencies, students complete hands-on clinical experiences to gain practical skills. Classes are delivered online in 7-week and 14-week formats, and the program offers multiple start dates each year. The program requires 43 credits after an RN has completed any RN to MSN requirements, and the program length depends upon the entry pathway the nurse selects. Some of the required courses include pathophysiology, psychopharmacology, and biostatistics. During three semester-long practicum classes, students learn to integrate clinical experience and theoretical material while seeing patients with a variety of complex issues. Students are also required to produce a capstone project, such as a scholarly paper or other demonstration of their scholarship and critical thinking skills.
The Stony Brook University School of Nursing offers a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track in its Master of Science in Nursing program. This 45-credit program includes four classes that cover advanced theory and provide clinical practice in psychiatric-mental health. Students also take two courses in pharmacology - one in clinical pharmacology and one in psychopharmacology - as well as other core and advanced practice nursing classes. Coursework in this specialty covers mental health across the lifespan, and graduates are prepared to take the national certification exam for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Classes for the RN to MSN program and the PMHNP program are delivered in a distance education format with some on-site requirements.
The University of Rochester School of Nursing has a Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track for master's level nursing students. The curriculum requires 54 credits and 616 clinical hours. Courses cover topics such as psychopathology and psychiatric assessment, individual psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and group and family psychotherapy. Students in the Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program may be eligible for the Finger Lakes Regional Scholarship, which is a 50% scholarship for students who live or work in the Finger Lakes region. The region encompasses 18 counties, and the scholarship can be applied to the undergraduate and graduate portions of the RN to BS to MS program as long as the student is in the mental health track. The School of Nursing has three start dates a year: September, January, and May. The program is delivered online with short on-campus intensives that are usually two to four days long.
The College of Nursing at SUNY Upstate Medical University has a Master of Science in Nursing track in Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Students must complete 53 credits, including three courses in clinical management for the psychiatric mental health nurse. The curriculum also includes classes in mental health theory, family nursing theory, and pharmacology. All students take a class in nursing education, and students who take an additional two nursing education classes can add a nursing education certificate to their credentials. The College of Nursing also offers a thesis option for nurses who want to conduct independent research and produce a thesis. Graduates of the program had a 100% pass rate on the PMHNP certification exam in 2016 and 2018 and a pass rate of more than 90 percent in 2017.
The La Salle University School of Nursing and Health Sciences recently added an MSN track in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, which admitted its first class in 2019. The program emphasizes preventing, diagnosing, and managing acute episodic and chronic mental illness. The curriculum requires 46 credits, including one graduate-level elective. Students also complete more than 700 clinical hours, which can be scheduled in in-patient, out-patient and community residential settings. At La Salle, faculty and student work together to arrange clinical experiences. All the classes for this degree are offered online. PMHNP graduates are eligible to take the Psychiatric National Certification Exam. Nurses who complete the RN to MSN bridge program with a GPA of 3.2 or higher can apply for the PMHNP MSN program.
Wilkes University offers an online program leading to a master's degree in nursing with a concentration in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. While classes are delivered online, students must come to the campus in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for a few brief residencies. The Passan College of Nursing mandates a residency for the required class in health assessment. Residencies may also be required during the specialty clinical courses. The graduate-level curriculum for this degree includes 24 credits in the nursing core and 18 credits in the specialty. Students also complete 500 clinical hours over two semesters where they work with a preceptor at an approved clinical site near their home. Classes in the specialty include clinical modalities in mental health nursing, psychopharmacology, and psychopathology. Graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam for PMHNP.
The College of Nursing at East Tennessee State University has an online Master of Science in Nursing with a track in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The program has a rural focus. The curriculum requires students to complete 48 credits and 540 clinical hours. Students complete practicum experiences in advanced family psychiatric nursing and interpersonal treatment modalities. They also complete an internship in the PMHNP role. Full-time students can complete the degree in five semesters. A part-time schedule could require eight semesters of graduate study. While classes are delivered online, students may have to come to the campus in Johnson City, Tennessee, for some classes or assessments. Students may be able to complete clinical rounds near their home; the College of Nursing currently allows clinical placements in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. The most recent graduating class had a 100% pass rate on the PMHNP certification exam.
The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program at Southern Adventist University has a primary care focus. The Master of Science in Nursing with the PMHNP emphasis is a 56-credit program, including 28 credits in the nursing core. Classes in the specialty include neuroscience for mental health practitioners, psychopharmacology, psychopathology, and counseling techniques. Candidates complete two 250-hour clinical rotations in psychiatric mental health care and a clinical practicum in mental health counseling. Students complete their clinical rounds at a variety of agencies in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. As a culminating experience, students complete an MSN capstone project where they apply evidence to resolve a practice problem and improve practice outcomes or quality. MSN students may follow a full-time or part-time study option. Southern Adventist University's 2018 graduates had a 100% pass rate for the PMHNP certification exam.
The College of Nursing at Union University uses a cohort model for the Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track in its MSN program. Cohorts begin the program each year in August and students move through the program as a group. Only full-time students are allowed in this program, which students complete in four semesters. Classes are delivered in a blended format with online elements and in-person meetings on the campuses in Jackson, Germantown, and Hendersonville, Tennessee. The curriculum includes 46 credits and 560 clinical hours. Classes in the specialty include mental health assessment and psychopharmacology. Students also complete two practicum experiences in managing acute and chronic mental disorders. One practicum focuses on children and adolescents and the other on adults and geriatric populations. Students also complete a specialty focus practicum. Graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
The psychiatric-mental health nursing program at Vanderbilt University is considered one of the best in the nation, ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report. The program takes a holistic approach, integrating psychological, biological, and social factors of mental health care. The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program is delivered in a modified distance learning format that combines online classes with concentrated blocks of time when students come to the campus in Nashville. Students may be able to complete clinical requirements in their home community. The curriculum requires 41 credits, including core classes and specialty classes. Some of the specialized classes include individual and family psychotherapy, health assessment applications for the PMHNP, neuroscience for mental health practitioners, and psychopharmacology. Students also complete 620 clinical hours. Graduates are prepared to take the national certification exam for PMHNP, and Vanderbilt grads had a 100% first-time pass rate in 2018.
The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner MSN at the University of Texas at Austin prepares nurses to work in a variety of settings. Graduates may find employment in community-based or in-patient psychiatric mental health settings. This is a 49-credit program that admits students for the fall semester. Full-time students may be able to earn their degree in 1.5 to 2 years, and a part-time plan of study is also available. Graduates are eligible to take the national credentialing exam to qualify as a certified PMHNP. The curriculum includes 12 credits in core MSN classes, 9 credits in the advanced practice nursing core, and 24 credits in the concentration. Courses specific to this concentration include psychiatric assessment and psychotherapy skills, management of chronic illness, psychopharmacology, and family care concepts in mental health nursing. Students also complete 525 clinical hours for this degree.
The James Madison University School of Nursing partners with Shenandoah University to present the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner MSN. Students earn an MSN from JMU and a post-graduate certificate in PMHNP from Shenandoah. They complete their first 22 credits at JMU, and they may complete those credits as full-time or part-time students. For the final 29 credits, earned through Shenandoah University, students must attend full time. The core credits at JMU are delivered online and are offered in the spring and fall semesters. The concentration classes begin in the summer semester, and students attend Shenandoah University for four semesters. Classes in the concentration include behavioral neuroscience, foundations of psychotherapy, and substance and relationship abuse. Students also complete 600 hours of practicum experience, including experiences working with adults, children and adolescents, and across the lifespan. Graduates are prepared to take the national certification exam for Psychiatric Mental Health NP.
The Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing at Shenandoah University has an MSN track in Psychiatric-Mental Health Care Nurse Practitioner. Full-time students can complete this degree in two years, and part-time students can finish in three years. Students enter the program in the fall semester as part of a cohort. The curriculum requires 51 credits, with specialized classes such as behavioral neuroscience, psychopharmacology, substance abuse, and foundations of psychotherapy. Students also complete about 700 clinical hours in practicums that focus on children and adolescents, adults, the geriatric population, and complex mental health issues across the lifespan. Core and specialty classes for the MSN-Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree are offered at two locations: the Shenandoah University campus in Winchester, Virginia, and the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax, Virginia. Clinical experiences may take place in settings such as family and group therapy sessions and hospital emergency rooms.