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For information about the field, see Psychiatric and mental health nursing.

An Advanced Practice Psychiatric/Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner, PMHNP, provides a wide range of services to adults, children, adolescents, and their families in a primary care facility, outpatient mental health clinic, psychiatric emergency services, private practice, or in a hospital or community health center. PMHNPs diagnose, conduct therapy, and prescribe medications for patients who have psychiatric disorders, medical mental conditions or substance abuse problems. They are licensed to provide emergency psychiatric services, psychosocial and physical assessment of their patients, treatment plans, and manage patient care. They may also serve as consultants or as educators for families and staff. The PMHNP has a focus on psychiatric diagnosis, including the differential diagnosis of medical disorders with psychiatric symptoms, and on medication treatment for psychiatric disorders.[1]

A PMHNP can practice autonomously in a wide variety of settings. In at least 20 states in the United States, a PMHNP may own his or her own practice. In other states, PMHNPs have a collaborative agreement with physicians, and practice independently to diagnose disorders, provide therapy and prescribe medications. Titles and functions vary by state; for the most accurate information, contact each state for the title, scope of practice and requirements for advanced licensing.[2]


A nurse practitioner must obtain at least six to ten years of post-secondary education. First the individual must earn a four-year college degree in nursing (BSN) or attend a Masters Entry Nursing program (or Graduate Entry to Practice Nursing program) designed for individuals with a Bachelors degree in a field outside of nursing. After obtaining their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, they must take the NCLEX-RN, the test for licensure as a Registered Nurse.[citation needed] Then, the candidate must complete an approved Masters or Doctoral advanced nursing education program which includes at least 600 clinical hours. Individuals who choose a Masters Entry Level pathway will spend an extra year at the start of the program taking classes necessary to pass the NCLEX-RN. Effective 2015, the Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is the planned entry level degree for advanced practice nurses.

A Masters or Doctorate prepared NP is then credentialized as a prescriber and sits for board certification. PMHNP-BC is the designated title for a board certified NP.

There are many schools that offer the graduate education required for this profession. Notable schools with Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse practitioner programs are Yale School of Nursing, University of California-San Francisco, and Columbia University School of Nursing.[3] The cost of education can vary greatly. Some things that contribute to the varying costs are: Public vs. Private school; traditional vs. Masters entry level; and in-state vs. out-of-state tuition. For example, at UCSF the cost for the Masters program with in-state tuition is approximately $12,245 a year; for an out-of-state student the tuition is $24,798. The masters entry-level program is $31,000 for the first year and subsequent years cost the same as the Masters program.[4]

See also


  1. American College of Nurse Practitioners. (Unknown last update). What is a Nurse Practitioner? Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
  3. The State of California. (2007, January 22). California Board of Registered Nursing Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
  4. University of California, San Francisco. (2007, February 6). MS Specialty: Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nursing - UCSF School of Nursing Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
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