January 13, 2016

PMHNP - Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs

PMHNP - Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jobs

What Does A Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Do?

Psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners are the advanced practice registered nurses (RNs).  These specialists have completed advanced training and considerable clinical experience with individuals who have mental health issues.  According to, they are increasingly involved in primary care settings.  Within this nursing specialty, PMHNPs are able to select subspecialties dealing with populations such as children, adolescents, or the elderly or with problems like substance abuse.  The American Psychiatric NursesAssociation indicates whether these professionals are titled nurse practitioner ( PMHNP ) or clinical nurse specialist ( PMHCNS ) depends on the place of service.  An NP is more often associated with primary care, while a CNS typically focuses on system issues like staff development or on a psychotherapy practice.  NPs can write prescriptions in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.  CNS prescription authority varies by state.

What Are The Job Roles For A PMHNP?

  • Making an assessment of mental health needs for children or adults
  • Diagnosing mental health/psychiatric conditions
  • Developing and executing treatment plans
  • Providing primary health care
  • Prescribing medication

Job Characteristics

  • Work includes treating a wide range of people.
  • Duties are structured.
  • Daily workload has considerable face-to-face patient contact.
  • Responsibilities require independent action.

What Education & Certification Is Needed For A PMHNP?

The path to becoming a PMHNP is a long and intensive one.  To earn the RN credential, students must complete a two- or four-year undergraduate nursing degree or a hospital nursing program. Requirements for licensure in any state include passing the National Council Licensure Examination ( NCLEX-RN ).  Although most graduate programs require a prior bachelor’s in nursing (BSN), some schools have a special track for nurses without four-year degrees.  Graduate programs include a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) with a psychiatric-mental health specialization, a psychiatric-mental health certificate for RNs who already have an MSN without this specialization, and a doctoral degree in nursing (DSN).  The American Nurses Credentialing Center ( ANCC ) issues certification for PMHNPs.

What Are The Degree Requirements For A PMHNP?

In order to become certified, an RN needs at least a master’s degree in nursing.  MSN graduates without sufficient classroom and clinical training in the specialty can also complete a post-master’s certificate.

Among the top schools recognized by are these:

What Certification Is Needed For A PMHNP?

A candidate may sit for a certification exam after presenting proof of a current RN license, sufficient clinical experience, and graduate education that includes specialized mental health training from an approved nursing program. ANCC offers the board-certified designation PMHNP-BC for two categories:  Adult Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan).  Certification is good for five years, after which nurses maintain it by renewal.

What Are the CEU Requirements As A PMHNP?

Every state has minimum requirements to maintain nurse licensing.  The continuing education requirements for each state are listed in our CNE guide.  One way PMHNPs can fulfill part of the professional development requirements to renew certification is via continuing education units from approved organizations.

Where Can I Work As A PMHNP?

  • Correctional facilities
  • Research and policy organizations
  • Residential substance abuse shelters
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Schools
  • Mental health agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Private practice
  • Veterans’ facilities

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn's disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript,, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie's List Health, and on many more sites.

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