Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

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About the Program:

This certificate program is designed to prepare nurses who are master’s prepared APRNs and wish to pursue education and training to be a clinically competent and culturally sensitive Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). The PMHNP is prepared to assess, facilitate and manage the psychiatric and mental health care needs of individuals, families, groups and communities in a variety of public, private, community, inpatient, and team-based, multidisciplinary practice settings.

The Post-Master’s Certificate curriculum is grounded in the PMHNP competencies and builds upon the 3 “P’s” necessary for advanced practice roles: Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology and Advanced Physical Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning. The  Post-Master’s Certificate in PMHNP curriculum prepares students to be eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Exam for the Family PMHNP, and includes courses embracing a lifespan perspective in psychiatric mental health diagnostic reasoning, psychopharmacology, individual, group and family psychotherapies and management of complex psychiatric illnesses. An emphasis on the interaction and integration of common mental and physical health problems gives the student an evidence-based framework for comprehensive psychiatric-mental health care. Emphasis on cultural sensitivity challenges students’ assumptions and value judgments, and promotes critical analysis of how racial and cultural biases in psychiatric diagnosis have led to disparities in care.

Graduates of the Post-Master’s Certificate PMHNP program are able to assume an expanded scope of practice that includes prescriptive authority, advanced comprehensive assessment, diagnostic reasoning and collaborative management of health problems across the lifespan.

Who May Apply?

Individuals eligible to apply include those who have earned a master’s degree in nursing from an accredited program and are currently licensed as APRNs. In addition, it is strongly recommended (but not required) that applicants have the equivalent of 6 months of full-time clinical work experience within the past 3 years in a setting that serves psychiatric illness/substance abuse.

Application Information is available on the Nursing Applications Page:
How Does the Program Work?

The PMH Advanced Practice Coordinator will review all coursework taken during the applicant’s previous graduate program. Additional coursework or alternative coursework may be required based on this evaluation. Courses are taken with graduate students in the Master of Science in Nursing Program. Student’s who drop out must competitively reapply for the next academic year. Clinical placements are planned with students according to their learning needs and career plans. Students pursue clinical experiences with persons across the life span.

Clinical sites are selected to meet course objectives and individual student learning needs. The PMHNP option promotes and encourages students to complete their clinical hours in their own communities and/or regions of the state of North Carolina and beyond, depending upon their learning objectives, interest and scholarship. Clinical experiences include obtaining a beginning level of competence in completing psychiatric assessment and comprehensive evaluations, documentation according to federal and state requirements, strategies for the implementation of individual, family and group therapy and medication initiation and management. Students receive intensive, clinical supervision by both faculty members and preceptors who are expert clinicians.

How Long Does it Take to Complete the Program?

The program takes up to two academic years plus one intervening semester to complete.

How Much Does the Program Cost?

Under revision. Please check back soon for updates.

When Should I Apply?

Admission to the Post-Master’s Certificate PMHNP program is offered only once per year (Fall). The deadline for applying for fall admission is December.

What Will I Gain From Completing the Program?

Upon satisfactory completion of this program, students are eligible to sit for national certification as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Family) and apply for approval by the joint committee of the North Carolina Board of Nursing and North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners to practice as a nurse practitioner in North Carolina.

Additional Information:

Suggested Plan of Study:

How to Apply:


School of Nursing
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Office of Student Affairs
Carrington Hall, CB #7460
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460
(919) 966-4260