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5 Top Psychiatric Nurse Programs

Higher Education Articles October 11, 2013

Psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialists provide treatment for patient mental health in private settings, hospitals, substance abuse centers and other settings. US News rates the following Psychiatric Nurse programs as the top 5 in the U.S.

University of California – San FranciscoMS Psychiatric Nursing

Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses are primary healthcare professionals providing assessment, diagnosis and management of psychiatric and mental health problems. Students can focus on treatment of either children or adults. There are two key roles:

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP): provide a range of primary mental health care services including assessment and diagnosis of patients experiencing mental health problems. Medication and psycho-therapeutic management are possible treatment approaches.

Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialists (PMHCNS): focus on research, education, consultation, clinical leadership and expert clinical practice. System-level interventions are a key part of this role.

The advanced practice psychiatric nursing program prepares students to treat mental health conditions is all age groups. Students may select to focus on a population during residency.

Foundation coursework is required for all advanced practice roles. Foundation topics are comprehensive health assessment, health promotion, pharmacology and patho-physiology. Psychiatric nursing requirements include human development; psychiatric assessment; psycho-pharmacology; symptom management and individual, group and family therapy.

Post-master’s study leads to Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification. This is applicable for candidates who already have advanced nursing degrees. Certification preparation typically requires 4-6 quarters for completion.

Yale UniversityPsychiatric-Mental Health Nursing (PMH) Specialty

First year students have clinical practice where students learn psychiatric diagnostic assessment and the application of evidence-based treatments. Second year students choose a setting where advanced practice interventions can be applied.

Possible settings are families; medically ill; adults having psychiatric disabilities; gerontological clients and substance abusers. Students develop diagnostic assessment skills and learn how to apply evidence-based treatment. Students learn how to prescribe medication while under the supervision. Studies focus on development of advanced practice nursing skills in the populations mentioned.

University of PennsylvaniaPsychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

This is an advanced practice nursing degree program for RNs interested in specializing in mental health care. Pharmacological treatment and therapy, across a wide patient spectrum, are integrated.

Biological, physiological, and neurological development and function of the brain are part of the educational focus. Equally important are social and psychological development of individuals and families.

The curriculum includes bio-psychosocial assessment and diagnosis and pharmacologic management. Students develop skills in psychotherapy, including therapeutic theories and approaches.

The curriculum includes a three-semester clinical practicum. Faculty advisors assist students in choosing treatment settings based on their professional interests. Clinical sites are selected to develop skills in assessment and treatment of mental health problems. Student work is supervised by preceptors and work experiences are shared in small seminars.

The PMH Nurse Practitioner program is suitable for both part-time and full-time students. A minor area of interest can be selected in a variety of concentrations from forensics to women’s health.

University of North Carolina – Chapel HillPsychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

Nurses who have earned a master degree in nursing can prepare to become a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse
Practitioner in this certificate program.

Students become proficient in advanced practice roles: Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology and Advanced Physical Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning.

Applicants lacking APRNs or who are not practicing as nurse practitioners can still participate but may need to complete additional coursework. The PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate program prepares students to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Exam for the Family PMHNP.

Educational focus includes psycho-pharmacology; psychiatric mental health diagnostic reasoning with lifespan view; management of complex psychiatric illnesses and individual, group and family psychotherapies. Evidence based techniques are used, and cultural biases are avoided.

University of PittsburghPsychiatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

This concentration prepares students to provide primary health care to psychiatric clients in a variety of settings on both an episodic and continuous basis. Students begin their studies with core courses that include topics in pathophysiology, physical diagnosis, pharmacology, health promotion and management of acute, episodic, and chronic health problems.

Students acquire advanced practice skills to manage common medical and complex psychobiological problems of clients with psychiatric disorders. Various practice settings provide opportunities for clinical experiences. Graduates become eligible to be certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Part time and full time attendance options are available.

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  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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