Online Post-Master's Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

Apr 09, 2020

Overview of Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate Programs

Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MHNP) Certificate programs are for practicing nurses who would like to specialize in the field of mental health in order to respond to the lack of mental-health practitioners in the US. Curricula introduces nurses to theoretical and neurological basis of mental health disorders, improves their diagnostic skills, equips them with an array of tools for treating patients with psychotherapy or drug intervention, and helps them function as part of a healthcare system. Program completion typically takes three to four semesters, including clinical practice.

Admissions requirements can vary on some specifics, but most of the criteria are common among institutions, including the following: a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 from an accredited institution and evidence of nursing practice, such as the equivalent of one to two years full-time experience working as an registered nurse. A common requirement is also the completion of courses in pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment.

This certificate offers the opportunity for further professional development by providing the necessary education to sit in for an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification, which MHNP graduates can use in order to meet licensure requirements and showcase their strong competencies to potential clients.

Courses and Requirements for the Online Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate

There are plenty of online programs to obtain a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate. However, no program is completely online, as students are obliged to complete hands-on clinical training, along with online courses, in order to complete their studies. Even though some programs have unique courses, there are plenty of common courses among different programs, including health assessment, the theory of psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, and neurobiology. Programs typically end with a practicum.

Course Topics

Health Assessment

In this online course, students hone their health assessment skills in order to be able to provide accurate diagnoses as practicing nurses. Extra focus is given to distinguishing between normal and abnormal findings and making differential diagnoses.

Psychotherapeutic Modalities

By learning the theoretical basis of psychotherapy and examining case studies, students are taught how to formulate cases, how to create treatment plans for clients according to the case at hand, and how to help patients carry on with the plan.

Clinical Psychopharmacology

This course provides the necessary information on how to prescribe drugs used to treat and manage disease across the lifespan. Topics of study include how these drugs are used, how they work, and what risks and benefits are involved.


This course examines how major mental disorders manifest through the lens of neurobiology. In contrast to psychotherapeutic modules, factors such as genetics and neuron degeneration are factored in. The overarching framework of this analysis is how neural networks associated with homeostasis react in response to such disorders.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Practicum

This course offers students a chance to hone their skills in a supervised environment. Through clinical training, hands-on experience, and feedback by colleagues or teaching stuff, nurse practitioners develop their individual medical competencies while also learning about their role in the healthcare system.

Career Outlook for a Mental Health Nursing Post-Master's Certificate

With successful completion of the program, graduates can work as mental health nurse practitioners in a variety of clinical settings, such as mental health centers, private psychiatric practices, schools, community centers, and correctional facilities. These certificate programs also prepare practitioners to work with patients across the lifespan.

Although there is no data specifically for mental health nurses, the horizon looks bright for nurse practitioners in general. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected job growth is 28% for 2018-2028, which is must faster than average job growth. Nurse practitioners' median salary was $107,030 per year, as of 2018.

A nurse practitioner can work in various medical settings and with patients from all walks of life. A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate program gives nurses the opportunity to delve deeper in the causes that lead to patient disorders in order to cater to their needs more effectively.

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