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Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The psychiatric mental health nursing concentration prepares students to become advanced practice nurses in the psychiatric mental health field.

Classroom lectures and clinical conferences focus on theories related to the etiology, presentation, assessment, and nursing care across the life-span of persons with both acute and chronic mental health conditions. In addition, students examine theories related to the trajectory of illness, psychological development, family dynamics, and primary prevention. In clinical practica, students work with preceptors to develop clinical reasoning, patient assessment, and patient management skills.

The concentration courses build on the core curriculum for advanced practice. The use of current research from mental health nursing and allied disciplines supports and promotes evidence-based practice. Both somatic and nonsomatic treatment modalities are taught including collaborative psychopharmacological management; individual, group and family level interventions; and crisis and time-limited therapies as well as consultative and case management roles.

Life-span clinical practica are individualized to meet the needs and clinical interests of the student. Sites may include, but are not limited to, community mental health centers, inpatient psychiatric facilities, special education settings, home health agencies, private practices, drug and alcohol treatment facilities or agencies, and community residential facilities.

Upon completion of the program, graduates may seek national certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and be designated a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). In 2018, graduates from the PMHNP boasted a 95% School Pass Rate as reported by American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). In most states, including Tennessee, certified PMHNPs can apply for prescriptive privileges.

Changes in the health care environment have made advanced practice psychiatric mental health nurses quite marketable. Graduates practice in a wide variety of settings caring for clients who range across the life-span. The flexibility of the skills encompassed in this curriculum allow graduates to take advantage of new and emerging roles in the provision of services to persons with mental illness.

The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration is a hybrid online curriculum with on-campus visits twice per semester throughout the students’ clinical courses in their areas of concentration. On-site requirements provide opportunities for networking with peers, formative learning, and summative assessments of advanced clinical skills within the College of Nursing’s high-fidelity simulation center. Synchronous online course meetings will also occur throughout the semester for case discussions, content review, and presentations. These mandatory online course meetings will be scheduled prior to the beginning of the term so students may arrange their schedules accordingly.

Students will complete a minimum of 600 hours of direct patient care clinical hours as part of the 1000 required hours to confer the DNP degree. Clinical rotations offer the student opportunities to practice their clinical skills and be mentored by licensed heath care providers. Identification of clinical sites and preceptors involves a collaboration between the student and CON faculty and staff. Students are encouraged to identify potential clinical sites and preceptors. Concentration Coordinators have ultimate approval of all clinical placements. Students desiring to complete clinical rotations outside the state of Tennessee must be familiar with their state Board of Nursing requirements for graduate clinical placements. Questions should be directed to the Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs.

The psychiatric mental health nursing concentration is a blended curriculum. Specifically, classes include both on-campus and online activities. Online courses may be offered through a hybrid of traditional online learning and video conferencing. Psychiatric mental health nursing courses are mostly online, with one or two on-site sessions per semester.

The concentration is typically a full-time program. Student curriculum plans of study are individualized and carefully determined under the guidance of the concentration coordinator.

Students work closely with their concentration coordinator and faculty to find appropriate clinical placements that meet the individual academic needs of the student (600 total clinical hours). While students may help identify potential clinical sites, they are not guaranteed any particular site placement. Travel to and from clinical sites is part of the concentration requirement.

New application deadline of December 1, 2022 for the 2023 admissions cycle. This extension applies to all DNP and PhD program with the exception of Nurse Anesthesia.  If you submitted a complete application prior to December 1, then your application is in review and you will receive notification about your decision by early February.

Clinical Graduate Certificates (FNP, PMHNP, Acute Care and Primary Care PNP) admit only for the summer, and DNP and PhD Programs admit only for the fall each year. Applications for the Non-clinical Graduate Certificates (Health Policy, Health Informatics, Nurse Education) are accepted on a rolling basis.

All prospective College of Nursing students must apply online through UT Graduate Admissions. All application materials including transcripts must be submitted directly to Graduate Admissions prior to the application deadline. Please check with UT Graduate Admissions for information about when applications will open for the next recruiting cycle.

Program of Study


For Course Descriptions, please see the Graduate Catalog.


PMHNP Coordinator Graduate Programs Advisor

Mary Johnson
Clinical Assistant Professor

Jackie Behrens

Advising Coordinator