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Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration prepares graduates to independently diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental health conditions across the life span.  In addition, graduates are prepared to provide integrative practice across a spectrum of mental health and physical health conditions.  Course work and supervised clinical experiences provide the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide at least two different approaches to psychotherapy, in-depth understanding of psychopharmacology, and expertise in treating patients across the life span who are experiencing both mental health and physical health problems.

DNP degree concentrations include pathways for those interested in obtaining initial Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification and for APRNs with or without current Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification. Graduates are eligible to write the certification examination for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners.

Accreditation: The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, master’s, and doctorate degrees. Questions about the accreditation of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, by calling 404.679.4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education,  655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington DC 20001, 202.887.6791,, through December 31, 2024, and approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing.

DNP Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Concentration Course Requirements

Post-BSN DNP Courses

Core Courses

Course ID Title Credits
NSG 876 Leadership and Health Policy  3
NSG 877 Healthcare Economics  3
NSG 824 Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnosis 3
NSG 827 Epidemiology for Clinical Practice 3
NSG 855 DNP Advanced Practice Role Development 2
NSG 910 Philosophy of Science & Theory in Nursing 4
NSG 831 Advanced Clinical Pathophysiology 3
NSG 830 Advanced Pharmacology 3
NSG 947 DNP Project Seminar I 1
NSG 948 DNP Project Design and Methods 2
NSG 949 DNP Project Implementation and Evaluation  2
NSG 950 DNP Project Seminar II 1
  Total 30


Concentration-Specific Courses

Course ID Title Credits
PMH 810 Assessment Strategies in Psychiatric/Mental Health 3
PMH 812 Biological Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders 3
PMH 800 Individual, Group and Family Therapy 2
PMH 802 Psychiatric Mental Health Disorders 3
PMH 804 Child & Adolescent Mental Health Care: Advanced Practice Registered Nursing 3
PMH 807 Clinical Health Promotion and Disease Risk Assessment 2
PMH 809 Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Practice I 4
PMH 811 Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Practice II 5
NSG 926 DNP Synthesis Practicum: PMH 6
  Total  31
  Post-BSN DNP Total Credits  61


Post-MSN DNP Courses

Core Courses

Course ID Title Credits
NSG 876  Leadership and Health Policy 3
NSG 877 Healthcare Economics 3
NSG 827 Epidemiology for Clinical Practice 3
NSG 910 Philosophy of Science & Theory in Nursing 4
NSG 947 DNP Project Seminar I 1
NSG 948 DNP Project Design and Methods  2
NSG 949 DNP Project Implementation and Evaluation 2
NSG 950 DNP Project Seminar II 1
  Total 19


Concentration-Specific Courses
(New P-MHNP Certification)

Course ID Title Credits
PMH 810 Assessment Strategies in Psychiatric/Mental Health 3
PMH 812 Biological Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders 3
PMH 800 Individual, Group and Family Therapy 2
PMH 802 Psychiatric Mental Health Disorders 3
PMH 804 Child & Adolescent Mental Health Care: Advanced Practice Registered Nursing 3
PMH 809 Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Practice I 4
PMH 811 Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Practice II 5
NSG 926 DNP Synthesis Practicum: PMH 2
   Total  25
  Post-MSN DNP Total Credits  44


Concentration-Specific Courses
(Same Certification - Holds P-MHNP Certification)

Course ID Title Credits
PMH 813 Evaluation: Psychiatric/Mental Health Care 4
PMH 815 Management of Selected Psychiatric Mental Health Problems 4
NSG 926 DNP Synthesis Practicum: PMH 6
  Total 14
  Post-MSN DNP Total Credits 33


Technical and Performance Standards

All students in the DNP Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Concentration Program must meet the Technical and Performance Standards for admission and progression.

View standards.

Technical and Performance Standards: All DNP Concentrations

In addition the technical and performance standards expected of all students in educational programs in the College of Nursing, students in the DNP program are also expected to possess the mental, auditory, visual, sensory, strength, manual dexterity, and communication skills to:

  1. Perform a systematic and complete history and physical examination on a client.
  2. Communicate significant examination findings to other professionals and client/family.
  3. Appropriately assess and record subjective and objective findings.
  4. Maintain effective relationships and interact appropriately with other professionals and clients/families, demonstrating skills of leadership collaborations and decisiveness.
  5. Accurately analyze alterations in functional patterns.
  6. Demonstrate advanced use of the nursing process: assess, develop, implement, educate and counsel clients, prescribe appropriate therapy, demonstrate self-care skills and evaluate appropriate plans of action for diagnosed problems.
  7. Maintain flexibility and emotional stability in response to novel, unique situations and stress.

Additional Technical and Performance Standards Specific to Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Concentration

  1. Anticipate potential common, acute self-limiting, and selected chronic problems.
  2. Develop insight into own emotional functioning to evaluate the ability to provide therapeutic intervention for a client.

If a student cannot fulfill these Technical and Performance Standards, with or without accommodations, at any time in the program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued progression in the DNP Program. In addition to assuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotional, and physical criteria for the DNP Program, it is of utmost importance that students have the ability to provide for the safety and welfare of their patients and others. Reasonable accommodations will be provided, when appropriate, to help student meet these Technical and Professional Standards. Determination of eligibility and recommendations of accommodations must be made by Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion Any student wishing accommodations must contact the university’s Office of Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion at 901-448-5056 (email:


Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner FAQs

What are the skills of a PMHNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?
As described in the Scope and Standards of practice of Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Nursing (2007), PMHNP practice focuses on the application of competencies, knowledge and experience to individuals, families, or groups with complex psychiatric mental health problems. Promoting mental health in society is a significant role for the PMHNP, as is collaboration with the referral to other health professionals as either the patient’s needs or the APRN-PMH nurse practice focus may dictate.
Where can I work after graduation?
PMHNPs work with populations across the lifespan, such as children, adolescents, adults, and older adults. They are employed in hospitals, community mental health centers, home health care, partial hospital care or residential settings. Individual state legislation determines the scope of practice; rules and regulations vary. Scope of practice is based on education and experience. The best place to explore individual scope of practice issues is the State Board of Nursing, not the physician or office manager in a practice. Contact information for individual state boards of nursing is at
What salary can a PMHNP expect to earn?
Compensation rates vary regionally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates nurse practitioners generally start around $72,000 with a maximum salary estimated near $150,000. The median salary is around $100,000.
What makes the PMHNP Program at UTHSC different?
The UTHSC PMHNP Program is fortunate to be in close proximity to numerous psychiatric and primary clinics in the Memphis and Mid-South region. Along with a dynamic and challenging didactic program, students are required to complete a minimum of 500 hours in direct, supervised primary care settings. Overall, the UTHSC PMHNP program requires 1080 clinical hours to allow additional broad experiences encompassing different rotations.
How long is the program?
The length of the program varies depending on whether the applicant is applying as a BSN DNP or MSN DNP student. Additionally, the length of the program may vary based on completion of previous graduate courses at another university and/or having previously completed an APRN program. Please see the links to the various program plans of study.
Can I go part time/full time? 
Full-time and part-time plans of study are available. Students should consult with the concentration coordinator about how to proceed with his/her respective program needs.
Can I work while going to school? 
The UTHSC PMHNP program is a rigorous, full-time program. The program requires a significant commitment for successful completion of didactic and clinical course experiences. For this reason, students are strongly discouraged to maintain full-time employment while enrolled in the program. Each student has his/her own individual responsibilities. If employment is essential, students are encouraged to explore flexible part-time employment and utilize saved vacation or other leave that can afford more time to commit to the program. 
How much will this program cost? 
Tuition costs are determined by in-state or out-of-state status and may change during the program. Tuition and fee information is located on the UTHSC Bursar's Fees webpage. Additionally, the Academic Common Market may be available for some out-of-state students. Information on this program is available through the Office of Financial Aid. Many employers also offer tuition reimbursement for full-time and part-time employees. Students should also consider the costs incurred for travel and hotel accommodations during the on-campus experiences. Students are encouraged to explore the many private scholarship funds available for graduate study in their communities as well as regional, state, and national financial aid. An internet search of graduate nursing scholarships can unmask various opportunities. Many diverse groups offer scholarship programs; some states and organizations have loan repayment programs for nursing education. There are also federal government grants for nursing students.
What books, equipment and supplies will I need?  
Book purchases will vary by semester. Many books specific to the PMHNP program will be used in consecutive semesters. Textbooks are supplemented with electronic media, much of which is available in the library for the students at no cost. Students need adequate computer hardware and internet access. Basic health assessment equipment including an otoscope, ophthalmoscope and a high-quality stethoscope are required. Students generally do not have clinical their first semester and are encouraged to wait to purchase this equipment closer to their first clinical course. Requirements change as the quality of equipment continually advances. Lab coats are mandatory for clinical experiences, but the specifications periodically change.
Where/when do I do my clinical experiences? 
Clinical experiences are interspersed throughout the program and differ based on concentration and student background. Clinical hour requirements are identified in the plan of study. One credit of clinical experience equates to 60 clinical clock hours. To determine the number of clinical clock hours, multiply the clinical credits in the plan of study by 60. Clinical hours do not include on-campus experiences, conferences, travel or mealtime. Please remember that these are minimum hours.  Clinical proficiency may be individualized, which means minimum requirements can vary.
How do I find a clinical site?  
Faculty are integrally involved in the selection of highly qualified preceptors and the placement process in order for students to have opportunities that will meet course outcomes. Students who live outside of the Memphis area will collaborate with the clinical course faculty to identify appropriate clinical sites. Relatives may not serve as preceptors for students. Clinical contracts are required for all clinical sites; development of a new clinical contract can be tedious, so it is important to start this process early in the program.
Do I have to come to campus? 
Required on-campus experiences are scheduled occasionally as a part of specific courses to provide structured experiences such as with simulation. In the PMHNP program, students will be required to be on-campus 4 times during the first semester for the advanced health assessment course. The PMHNP programs requires on-campus time during the last semester. On-campus experiences may last 1-3 days and are identified 6 months in advance. A published schedule is located on the CON academic calendar page.
How is a primarily online education different?  
Online education is very popular as it offers the student greater flexibility with location of learning sites. This flexibility can be more accommodating to your style of learning and lifestyle. Some online educational experiences are synchronized for classes to occur at a designated time. Online education takes discipline and self-motivation; it is not for everyone. Online education requires participative learning with much less traditional lecture-style teaching. Graduate course work entails significant quantities of reading and discussions among learners with guidance from the faculty.  Good computer skills are essential. Strong grammar and writing skills are important.  While online learning can be somewhat isolated, there are opportunities both online and during the on-campus weeks to be acquainted with your colleagues and develop strong professional relationships.  Some students struggle with online learning and may find that it is not for them. The Faculty at UTHSC CON are highly skilled in online education and are leaders in using distance technology in teaching/learning.
What are some tips to enhance my educational experience?

Students are encouraged to "shadow" a PMHNP for a day or two. Learn as much as you can about the role by meeting APRNs, attending professional meetings, and/or reviewing the local and national websites. The American Psychiatric  Nurses Association (APNA) is the primary organization that represents PMHNPs. The APNA website at offers much information about education and practice.

Find and visit your local NP group meetings. The Greater Memphis Area APN group web page is

Obtain a diagnostic evaluation of your learning style. Numerous online engines offer this service at no cost. Simply enter "learning style assessment" into a search engine to locate these services.  Students admitted to the DNP Program have their learning style assessed prior to beginning classes.  We will also offer an intensive review of health assessment skills prior to class beginning.

Evaluate your family, community and work commitments and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. The program requires a full commitment. All students will have to make adjustments in their personal and professional lives.  


Feb 14, 2024