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Best Online FNP to PMHNP Programs

Ready to elevate your skills? Explore leading FNP to psych NP online programs and find answers to all your most pressing questions.

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A woman wearing glasses holds a document and speaks to another woman with a ponytail in an office decorated with various plants. Sunlight and greenery create a bright, natural atmosphere.

Are you a family nurse practitioner (FNP) looking to expand your skills and increase your impact on patients? Or are you thinking about becoming an FNP and wondering what other avenues you can take in your nursing career once you do?

As vital as the services family nurse practitioners provide are, you may be looking to expand your reach to a more niche patient population, namely, those living with psychiatric conditions. The best way to take this step is to enroll in an FNP to Psych NP online program designed to leverage your existing expertise and add mental health nursing to your skill set. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of these graduate certificate programs, top schools that offer them, and the skills you’ll gain in the specialized courses that set them apart. Ready to get your questions answered? Keep reading to get started?

Inside Look at Online FNP to Psych NP Programs

Family nurse practitioners who want to transition into psychiatric nursing need a program that will leverage the work and educational foundation they’ve already built. Branching out into another area of nursing practice isn’t easy, so you’ll want to enroll in a program that provides rigorous training. The following are some examples of FNP to psych NP online programs offering that level of training.

Purdue Global

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Purdue Global offers an online psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certificate program that students can complete in about one year if they devote 15 to 18 hours a week to their studies. After completing this 12-course curriculum, nurses gain expertise in mental health disorders and are able to conduct assessments, diagnose patients, create treatment plans, and monitor the results. Additionally, students learn how to provide culturally sensitive care to people from diverse backgrounds and advocate on behalf of patients who are navigating the mental health system to ensure they receive assistance.

To help students gain the expertise they need to become knowledgeable and effective psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, coursework covers neuroscience, pharmacology, diagnosis across the lifespan, advanced physiology, and mental health assessments. Also, nurses in an FNP to psych NP online program complete clinical experiences in local healthcare facilities so they can apply what they have learned to real-world psychiatric care.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The image features the text "UNLV" in a bold, serif font with a deep red color.

Students who earn a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner advanced graduate certificate from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, receive the training they need to build on their FNP experience to provide psychotherapeutic care. When they graduate from the program, nurses are able to assess and diagnose mental health issues and create treatment plans, which may include prescribing medications. In addition, the program covers how to monitor the effectiveness of holistic healthcare plans, conduct nursing research, and understand the ethical principles to which mental health nurses adhere.

To be admitted, prospective students are expected to have an unencumbered and unrestricted nursing license. When they apply, nurses should submit transcripts for their undergraduate and graduate studies, a statement explaining why they want to pursue an FNP to psych NP online program, a current resume, and three recommendation letters from employers or instructors. Also, applicants may be required to participate in an interview.

Western Governors University

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The Western Governors University (WGU) psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate takes about a year and a half to complete. The program is made up of 11 courses that prepare students to provide evidence-based, compassionate mental health care. To best accommodate the schedules of busy nurses, this FNP to psych NP online program allows students to complete coursework at their own pace and then, when they’re done, complete an assessment to demonstrate their mastery of the material. Students pay $6,625 per six-month term. They can complete as many classes as they’re able during that timeframe.

To be admitted, applicants must have a master’s or doctoral nursing degree and a current license. When they apply, they submit their transcripts, resume, an application essay describing their career aspirations in the mental health field, and three letters of recommendation. Also, applicants are required to submit to a criminal background check. In some cases, WGU may allow students to transfer credits from previous graduate coursework to fulfill requirements of this program.

Inside Dual FNP PMHNP Online Programs

Some professionals interested in psychiatric mental health nursing aren’t yet family nurse practitioners. The good news is, that’s not necessarily a problem thanks to dual programs that let you complete the specializations simultaneously.

During their studies, which can take three to four years, students take a combination of advanced primary and behavioral health nursing coursework to prepare them to provide a variety of services — from conducting assessments to prescribing medications. To provide this preparation, programs have a curriculum that covers the foundations of primary care nursing, advanced pharmacology, reproductive nursing, integrated behavioral healthcare, and child and adolescent psychiatric nursing. In addition, these programs have a clinical training component; students complete 500 to 2,000 clinical hours at a healthcare facility, splitting their training between family and mental health nursing activities.

To be admitted into a dual FNP/PMHNP online program, students are required to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing and an unrestricted license. When nurses apply to these programs, generally they’re required to submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Also, applicants can expect to complete a background check and drug screening.

Featured School: Samford University

Samford University’s MSN Family and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program has a comprehensive primary care and psychiatric mental health nursing curriculum, preparing graduates to provide advanced services to patients across the lifespan. Specific classes include advanced physical assessment strategies, psychopharmacology, statistics for advanced practice nursing, and ethical leadership and collaboration. After completing their classes, students participate in both family practice and mental health nursing clinical experiences at local healthcare facilities. Generally, students spend 16 to 20 hours on their clinical rotations every week. The entire program takes three years to complete.

Featured School: The University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee offers a psychiatric mental health/family nurse practitioner dual concentration DNP program that gives students a well-rounded look at advanced nursing practice within these two specialties. The curriculum includes core classes covering healthcare economics, leadership, policy, and assessment. Also, students take seminars to prepare them for the doctoral project they’ll complete in order to graduate. For the psychiatric mental health concentration, classwork covers mental health disorders, biological treatments for psychiatric disorders, and individual and group therapy. For the family nursing concentration, students take coursework covering health promotion principles for family nurse practitioners and advanced family nursing clinical practice.

Skills and Specialized Courses for PMHNP Students

Although the specific classes that you’ll take in an FNP to psych NP online program will differ from one program to the next, there are generally some topics you can expect to cover. The following is a look at some of the specialized classes that are taught in PMHNP programs and the skills students acquire when they take them.

Advanced Pathophysiology for the Advanced Practice Nurse

This course explores pathophysiology from the cellular level so nurses are able to advance their knowledge about how diseases affect systems of the body, as well as how they progress. Students get a look at diseases in the cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and reproductive systems, leading them to understand how diseases are treated differently depending on where they develop.

Relevant Skill:

Students develop the ability to perform effective assessments on patients across the lifespan, diagnose the diseases patients may have, and understand the progression of those diseases. Students also sharpen their communication skills so they can effectively discuss diseases with patients and other caregivers.

Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Care of Children and Adolescents Across Care Settings

The course addresses how family dynamics play a role in the development and progression of mental illness and how families can work together during treatment. Different types of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments are discussed, so students understand which interventions are appropriate for different mental health disorders and for patients in different age groups.

Relevant Skill:

Students learn how mental health professionals assess issues in people of different age groups, and create treatment plans that are appropriate for various demographics. Also, students learn how to teach patients about therapeutic interventions, helping them to understand how to manage their conditions at home.

Foundations of Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Practice

This course covers the history of mental health care and how it has evolved over the years. Students become familiar with the different factors that influence how patients feel about their mental health, including what people from different cultures believe about mental health disorders and their treatments. Also, the guidelines set forth by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) are discussed so students understand how these standards are used consistently on patients of different age groups.

Relevant Skill:

Students gain the reasoning skills needed to understand patients’ behaviors and attitudes so they can accurately treat mental health disorders. Also, students learn strategies that help patients change their behaviors so they can become healthier and experience personal growth.

Psychopharmacology for Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Practice

Family nurse practitioners are already familiar with pharmacology and regularly prescribe medication to patients. This course helps students understand how their pharmacology experience can be applied to mental health conditions. Coursework covers pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, substance abuse, and experimental treatments in pharmacology.

Relevant Skill:

Nurses learn how to assess psychiatric disorders and prescribe the appropriate medications. Also, they learn how to recognize substance abuse and address the issue.

Your FAQs About Online FNP to PMHNP Programs, Answered

Do you still have questions about FNP to psych NP online programs? If so, the following are answers to some of the common things prospective students want to know.

Are dual FNP/PMHNP programs common?

There are a variety of dual FNP/PMHNP programs available. Although they may not be as common as other types of nursing programs, as busy nurses seek to find effective ways to advance in their careers many are looking for programs that allow them to focus on two concentrations at the same time.

Are scholarships available for online PMHNP programs?

Yes, students in online PMHNP programs can receive scholarships. For example, the Melanie Foundation provides $2,500 for students pursuing a mental-health–related master’s or doctoral degree. Also, students may be able to receive funding from the school they attend.

Can I complete an FNP to psych NP program 100% online?

Yes, you can complete an FNP to psych NP program entirely online. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the online component only applies to classes. These programs also require clinical experiences, which students complete at healthcare facilities.

How long are FNP to psych NP programs online?

The length of an FNP to psych NP online program depends on your school. Generally you can expect to complete these certificates in one to two years. For example, the online psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certificate program at Purdue Global can be completed in one year, while WGU students complete their studies in a year and a half.

How much does the most affordable online PMHNP certificate program cost?

The cost of an online PMHNP certificate program varies from one school to the next. However, online programs are among the most affordable because many programs charge per credit tuition rates. For example, West Coast University charges $785 per credit for its program.

What is the highest salary for a psych NP?

The salaries for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners vary depending on where they work. According to Indeed, these professionals make an average of $134,720 per year. The highest earners make $222,251.