The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree for primary or acute care nurse practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), or nurses with a master’s degree and one year of clinical practice experience who want to effectively care for patients with complex psychiatric and physical health needs.
The program aims to provide advanced practice nurses with advanced psychiatric skills needed to offer therapy, prescription psychiatric medications and clinical management to underserved patients with mental illness and chronic medical comorbidities. The program also aims to provide psychiatric CNSs or NPs with a specialty in adult or child care with the knowledge and skill set to treat patients across their lifespan.
Certification and Career Opportunities
Graduates are prepared to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Psychiatric Mental Health NP (PMHNP) certification exam upon completion. This exam tests knowledge and skill related to psychiatric advanced practice across the lifespan.
Psychiatric Mental Health NPs have many career opportunities. A few include working in settings such as acute care environments, outpatient clinics, schools, prisons, health homes and behavioral health homes, long-term care facilities and private practice offices. These advanced practice nurses complete assessments and provide treatment, including therapy, medication prescription and management.
Students complete a minimum of 560 clinical practicum hours for the ANCC Certification. The first clinical practicum may be with any preceptor who is licensed in his or her respective state to provide psychotherapy. The second and third clinical practicum may be with a CNS, NP or MD preceptor. Clinical placements are determined by students’ areas of interest, career goals and preceptor availability.
Remaining hours are focused on a DNP project. This quality-improvement project will be grounded in a clinical problem. Students will work closely with a DNP advisor to formulate a capstone project.
Students must have a minimum of one year of independent nursing experience in an adult care setting. UC College of Nursing expects students to have excellent assessment skills at the generalist level before undertaking advanced practice. The college offers a part-time program option to allow nurses to continue working while gaining valuable experience.
Program of Study
The program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Full-time students can complete the program in eight semesters. Part-time students will receive individualized schema.