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Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


If you are interested in providing advanced primary care to those with psychiatric and mental problems, the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMH NP) concentration prepares you for a flexible and rewarding career.  This concentration focuses on psychopharmacologic and psychotherapeutic management and treatment of common mental health problems and psychiatric disorders seen across the life span. Students use evidence based guidelines to assess and intervene in response to the psychiatric, psychosocial, and psychoeducational needs of individuals, families and groups.  

  • Post-Baccalaureate Plan of Study

    Full- and part-time students begin in the fall.  Full-time students can complete the plan of study in five semesters.  Foundational courses, taught weekly in Richmond during the first semester of enrollment, provide advanced knowledge and skills in pathophysiology, health assessment pharmacotherapeutics, and research.  The Psychiatric-Mental Health specialty courses are offered beginning in the second semester of enrollment and are scheduled on the same day of the week with some online components.  These courses focus on psychopharmacology, diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric and mental health disorders as well as individual and group psychotherapeutic modalities from a life span perspective.  Students are prepared to assume an expanded scope of practice that includes prescriptive authority along with advanced assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and collaborative management of psychiatric and mental health problems across the life span.

    Students in the PMH NP program complete 540 hours of clinical practice in which they are directly supervised by qualified providers (NP or MD) who have expertise in caring for patients who have psychiatric or mental health disorders and are committed to student education.  Sites for clinical experiences include, for example, outpatient community mental health centers, crisis centers, acute care/inpatient facilities, and substance abuse treatment centers.  School of Nursing faculty strive to provide opportunities for students to work with diverse patient populations including active duty military personnel and veterans.  Additionally, faculty work with students living outside the Richmond area to locate suitable clinical practice settings in their geographic area.

  • Post-Master’s Certificate Plan of Study

    The post-master’s certificate in the PMH NP concentration is designed for nurses who have already earned a master’s degree in nursing and wish to become a PMH NP.  The post-master’s certificate plan of study is tailored to meet the individual needs of students who plan to apply for certification as a PMH NP and offers flexibility for those who may be working full time.


Students who successfully complete the Psychiatric Mental Health NP program are eligible to apply for the Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Clinical Practice

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMH NPs) are prepared to diagnose and treat individuals with psychiatric and/or substance abuse disorders, as well as address the mental health problems that often go along with medical illness.  PMH NPs bring a dynamic and unique skill set to their practice that allows them to function effectively in a variety of settings like primary care or outpatient mental health clinics, psychiatric emergency services, private practice (with supervision in some states), or community health centers.

Demand for Psychiatric-Mental Health NPs

Limited access to primary mental health care has been an enduring problem in the United States for many years. In the 2010 report on healthcare reform and the future of nursing, the Institute of Medicine identified the goal of preparing more advanced practice psychiatric/mental health nurses as an essential step in meeting the needs of the American public1. With the growing interest in integration of mental health services into primary care settings, PMH NPs are well positioned to pursue employment opportunities in a variety of settings. Graduates from the VCU School of Nursing Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program are working across the state in exciting and financially lucrative practice settings and are eager to participate in the education of our students.

1Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Initiative on the Future of Nursing at the Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

More information

The VCU Graduate Bulletin:

The Graduate School at Virginia Commonwealth University

The following websites provide additional information about the Psychiatric-Mental Health NP specialty:

For additional information about the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration and questions about the application process, please contact the Office of Enrollment and Student Services (OESS) at VCU_Nurse@vcu.edu. or call 804-828-5171. We look forward to working with you as you consider the educational opportunities at VCU School of Nursing.