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PMHNP Overview

Mission of the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program (PMHNP)
The mission of the University of Iowa Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program is to educate nurses through didactic and clinical experiences needed to successfully enter into practice as a Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. Currently PMHNP students at the University of Iowa College of Nursing receive didactic and clinical experiences across the lifespan to make them eligible to be nationally board certified. University of Iowa DNP-PMHNP graduates are prepared to be leaders within the profession and U.S. health care system.

Program Design
Our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) curriculum is designed to provide nurses doctorate  level education and clinical experience to become a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs). Successful students will graduate with a DNP degree with a PMHNP specialization and be eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Certification Exam. We have both a three- and four-year BSN to DNP program. We also offer a two-year Post MSN/NP DNP program for APRNs that would like to become certified as a PMHNP as well as receiving a DNP, a two- or three-year  post APRN to DNP and a two-year (4 semester) post graduate PMHNP certificate. At Iowa we also offer a dual certification which graduates are able to be certified as a PMHNP and one other APRN specialization. The dual certification is also four years.

Benefits of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
The American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) has recommended the DNP as the graduate degree of choice for advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) including PMHNPs. The University of Iowa College of Nursing was one of the first in the nation to receive approval for the DNP from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in 2009.

In a landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine recommended that “Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; and, be full partners in redesigning health care in the United States.” The DNP degree will allow PMHNPs to be full partners in the developing health care system of the future and provide the high quality, cost-efficient care for which they are known.

Program Sequence
The curriculum follows the University of Iowa academic calendar. You will receive a week off at Thanksgiving, a month for winter break, and a week at Spring break and two weeks between the summer and fall terms.

The University of Iowa Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program from BSN to DNP will involve either 3- or 4-years of intense academic study and clinical experience (see plans of study). The curriculum is designed to be completed in either a three- or four-year period, starting each August.

The initial portion of the plans of study  provides you with courses that provide a solid foundation in advance nursing practice where you will learn from experts in various specializations. You will follow your cohort through the entire program but in these first two years you will be introduced and develop relationships with others in the Pediatric, Family and Adult/Gero Nurse Practitioner tracks. This foundation will prepare you for the 3rd year of clinical training and for future practice as a full partner in the future health system.

The middle and final portions begins your intense specialized training in the Psychiatric-Mental Health field. During the fall, spring and summer semesters you will be required to receive at least 180 clinical hours each term along with didactic training. At the University of Iowa, you will receive exceptional clinical training in varied setting to include inpatient, outpatient, forensic and other areas that may be of interest to you across the state of Iowa. The DNP-PMHNP program at Iowa also matches you with your preceptors and arranges your clinical experience through the expertise of Angela Melsa-Worrell, clinical coordinator, and Dr. Daniel Wesemann, director. Through the program you will be guided through your clinical experience working toward graduation in which you will have the skills to practice autonomously as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

In the spring semester before graduation PMHNP student defend their DNP projects. Sample projects can be found here 

The University of Iowa Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program also offers a plan of study to receive post certification in Psychiatric-Mental Health for those wanting a second APRN certification. The plan of study starts in June and finishes in the summer of your second year (4 semesters total). Successful completion of this track will enable this individual to be board certified as a Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. During this training you are provided the same didactic and clinical experience as BSN to DNP students are provided along with being given credit for all the experience and credits you received with your initial APRN certification.

The University of Iowa Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program also offers a Post MSN/APRN to DNP plan of study for APRNs that would like to become certified as a PMHNP as well as receiving a DNP, and a Post MSN/APRN to DNP  program for PMHNP providers with a master's degree who want to complete their DNP.  

The University of Iowa is also excited to offer plans of study for Dual Certification with Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialization. This is an extremely intense plan of study where an eligible person could be ready for board certification in Psychiatric-Mental Health specialization along with one of the following specialization: Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner. This is done in four short years and graduates with a DNP as well. Due to the intensity of this plan of study it is recommended that the individual who undertakes this feat would solely focus on their academic and clinical training; however, the individuals who complete this dual certification would be allowed to define their practices as they see fit. They would also be known for their level expertise in more than just one area of specialization. These individuals would be defined by their exceptionalism.

The academic and clinical experience you receive in the Iowa DNP-PMHNP program surpasses all requirements of the ANCC to sit for the national boards exam. The Iowa program has a strong reputation for preparing remarkable PMHNP clinicians who can practice in any psychiatric/mental health environment. The future is bright for PMHNPs in the U.S. health care system and very bright for Iowa DNP-PMHNPs who are prepared to be leaders within that system.