Post-graduate psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) certificate programs in are meant to give nurses specialized knowledge for dealing with patients who have mental health concerns. Some of these programs are only open to nurses who are currently practicing. Many programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and may prepare students to take the American Nurses Credentialing Certification (ANCC) Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Practitioner exam.
Typical Courses in Post-Graduate PMHNP Certificate Programs
Post-graduate certificate programs that concentrate on psychiatric mental health for nursing practitioners can have between 17 and 32 credit hours. These courses can be taken online or in a hybrid format, and, in some cases, courses can be transferred to a doctoral nursing program.
Neurobiology and Mental Health Disorders
Courses that focus on this area are meant to use the students' existing knowledge of anatomy and physiology to develop an understanding of mental health disorders. These courses can introduce students to the factors that generally cause mental health disorders as well as how these disorders are diagnosed. In some courses, students will evaluate case studies that are based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM 5).
A course on psychotherapeutic methods is designed to show nurses how mental health disorders can be treated with therapy. Generally, these courses can teach students how to use a patient's information to diagnose a mental health disorder and determine the appropriate therapeutic treatment methods. As students analyze case studies, they may learn about motivational interviewing techniques as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
These courses teach nurses how mental health disorders can be treated using psychopharmacology, also known as the study of how drugs can affect behavior. Students may learn about the different types of psychotropic drugs and how they interact with other drugs patients are taking. Options for personalizing a patients' drug treatment plan could also be included.
Mental Health Treatment of Adults
In these practicum courses, students tend to learn how to address the mental health needs of adults or older adults. The treatment methods for these kinds of patients can include the use of medication as well as therapy. Courses can expose students to lectures and projects along with clinical experiences.
Complex Mental Health Management
Courses of this nature are designed to explore how nursing practitioners can handle patients who have complex mental health challenges. These courses may be based in a clinical environment so students can gain 'hands-on' experience. Students may also learn about different treatment options as well as how to collaborate with other mental health professionals.
General Admission Requirements for Post-Graduate PMHNP Certificate Programs
Those seeking admission will need at least a master's degree in nursing. Some programs may require a minimum GPA of 3.0 as well as prerequisite courses in subjects like pharmacology, pathophysiology and health assessment. Applicants may need to provide evidence of a valid nursing license, and the admission process for some post-graduate certificate programs may include an interview. Along with an application, prospective students may need to submit school transcripts, a current resume, a writing sample, an essay, proof of clinical hours and letters of recommendation.
Post-graduate certificate programs in psychiatric mental health for nurse practitioners can have as many as 32 credit hours that can include topics such as clinical psychopharmacology, complex mental health management and psychotherapeutic frameworks. Some of these programs can have an online or hybrid format and can prepare nurses to take the (ANCC) Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Practitioner exam.