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  • Home / News / Ursuline adds post-master’s program for psychiatric nurse practitioners | Ursuline College - Liberal Arts Education in Ohio

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    Ursuline adds post-master’s program for psychiatric nurse practitioners

    June 12, 2017

    In response to the significant and growing need for skilled and compassionate mental health care providers, Ursuline College is launching a post-master’s degree Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program which prepares students to take the board certification examination for PMHNP. Classes start August 23.

    Open to certified nurse practitioners, this three-semester track prepares students to provide clinical management to patients with coexisting medical and mental illnesses. A minimum of one year of experience working as a family nurse practitioner is required for admission.

    According to an article posted on the website Nurse Journal, “The job outlook for psychiatric nurses shows a predicted growth rate of 26% by the year 2020.”

    “For a number of different reasons, the demand for mental health care is growing dramatically in the United States,” said Patricia Sharpnack, DNP, dean of Ursuline’s Breen School of Nursing. Sharpnack explained millions of Americans gained coverage – including mental health care coverage – under the Affordable Care Act. The opioid crisis and the surge in need for psychiatric care for veterans are also straining health systems.

    Against this backdrop of need is a nationwide psychiatrist shortage, reported on in a June 6, 2017 article on

    “We have spent more than a year developing a rigorous curriculum that will educate psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners to help answer this critical need,” said Sharpnack, who is president of the Ohio Board of Nursing.

    Sharpnack and her colleagues on the faculty of the Breen School of Nursing developed the PMHNP track with input from several psychiatric mental health practitioners and using the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties 2003 Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Competencies and the 2015 Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Board Certification test content outline.

    Students in the new Ursuline program will be prepared to effectively care for patients with complex psychiatric and physical health needs. This program will also provide nurse practitioners with the advanced psychiatric skills of therapy, psychiatric medication prescription, and clinical management needed to treat underserved patients with mental illness and chronic medical comorbidities. Upon completion of the program, students will take the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) certification exam, which tests knowledge and skill related to psychiatric advanced practice across the lifespan.

    Advanced practice psychiatric nurses work in settings such as acute care, outpatient clinics, schools, prisons, health homes and behavioral health homes, long term care, and private practice. They conduct assessments and provide treatment, including therapy and medication prescription and management.

    The Ursuline program will be offered year round, primarily as a face-to-face curriculum but with some online learning experiences built into selected courses. Students will complete 500 direct clinical hours working with patients needing psychiatric mental health and behavioral health treatments.

    Interested nurse practitioners are encouraged to apply at Application fees are waived through June 2017.