Duquesne University Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

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Dr. Marie Smith-East, Director of the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program discusses the online programs offered at Duquesne.


Hi, I am Dr. Marie Smith-East and I am the director of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program here at Duquesne University. Today I will be talking about course specific curriculum overview, clinical experiences, board certification, and even professional organizations, and what to specifically expect from our program here at Duquesne University. Again, this is just an overview as I mentioned of what we will be discussing including the certification requirements as well.

So what does a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner do? Many of you are already enrolled in the program so I hope that you already have a good idea of what our role is, but essentially we assess, evaluate, diagnose, manage, and treat individuals all across the lifespan. We can provide psychotherapy and prescribe medications as well for treatment. It includes ethical, wholistic, population-based collaborative care.

What sets our program apart here at Duquesne University? I always refer to the three P’s, practice, policy, and philanthropy. And what does that consist of? Essentially that is including practice that is innovative and that is innovative within even our curriculum and it adapts to the changing needs of populations and health care systems delivery. A lot of our students here at the program plan to get hired in the same places where they complete their clinical experiences. We try to prepare our students for such.

In terms of policy, it’s in regards to the passion for social justice and it’s an integral part of our school community as well as adapting while treating patients within our community. Philanthropy, that involves caring practices, clinical inquiry, and collaboration. And of course we can never forget leadership, the importance of coordination, engaging with patients in our treatment. And then systems thinking, going just beyond the individual and thinking about how the individual fits within their community.

The curriculum overview of the program includes these three core courses here as well, the psychopharmacology, the theoretical foundations, and individual, group, and family therapy, which is specific that’s needed for your board certification. Very interesting [inaudible 00:02:43] classes are Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders Across the Lifespan. As we know right now, we’re in the middle of an opioid crisis in addition to the pandemic. Then here you’ll see that we have our clinical hours here and then transitioning into advanced practice nursing.

And then course specifics. We have really interesting innovative curriculum. Starting with our psychopharmacology, you’ll be exposed to emerging treatments and screening including genetic testing. And all of our courses that are in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program includes case analyses and simulation will be found in our first clinical course. You’ll find that also when you have to come to campus. There’s two opportunities that you must come to campus which we find in your physical health assessment course and then also in your clinical course as well.

And in that ability that we have within our program is to work even with our other FMP colleagues and other colleagues within the College of Nursing. And then even to extend to other colleges within the university, such as a Pharmacy, Social Work and Psychology.

And then for our graduates, we try to prepare students to be able to get their medication-assisted treatment waiver so that by the time they graduate, they are ready to go ahead and apply for the DEA, with the [inaudible 00:04:18] at the end that certifies them as also being able to prescribe within the medication-assisted treatment program. And then also we provide training within telemedicine so also to prepare our students for different modalities that can be expected now within psychiatric mental health treatment.

Our clinical experiences are varied. It includes inpatient, outpatient, community health, and even private practice. And as I mentioned, you also have the opportunity to do simulation involving telemedicine and other different experiences. Again, you have the opportunity to do a self-evaluation, even preceptor evaluations and preceptor sites to make sure that we’re all on the same page and that you’re getting quality education involving continuous improvement from that feedback that we receive.

Our program is in line to prepare you to successfully complete the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner board certification. The test content domains was updated December 2019. You’ll see here that the majority of the test content involves advanced practice skills and diagnosis in treatment followed by scientific foundation, psychotherapy and related theories, and then ethical and legal principles.

Here is just an example of what you can find when you are completing the forms or application to become or sit to take your board certification. Our program is accredited so that’s one of the checked boxes here that are necessary. And then even your clinical hours will include adults and children. Here you’ll see health promotion disease prevention content, differential diagnosis, which is all integrated into our program. And then the other three P’s that are part of our MSN core curriculum, which is the physical assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology, and then at least two psychotherapeutic treatment modalities, which again is integrated into our program.

Specific to Pennsylvania, we try to make sure that our preceptors fall in line with the requirements of the board and that includes that the students precept with physicians who are currently licensed, advanced practice nurses who are currently licensed, and CRNPs who are currently licensed and certified. We ideally want you to be able to get that hands-on experience with providers that are experienced within psychiatric mental health nursing.

Professional organizations that we highly recommend that you be a part of. I would say here the obvious choice is Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, or whatever state nurses organization where you live is highly important so that you keep up with any laws that are specific to your state. The American Nurses Association as well, just to keep up with what advocacy is being done. And then the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, I highly recommend because you can also get a discount for sitting for your boards if you are part of the APNA, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, or even the AMA, you can get a discount when you sit to take your boards if you’re a part of these associations.

Furthermore, for continuing education and to keep up with the latest in practice and to network, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association is awesome because they also have a forum like a weekly digest that sends you emails, questions, concerns within the psychiatric nursing field from experts, and then also just from students and individuals that are currently practicing in different places of employment. And then the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses is also a wonderful organization to be a part of. You can also get experiences from attending conferences and learning more.

So in general, we want to exceed these standards of course. We have such an innovative curriculum, varied clinical experiences, and our standards exceed that of what is necessary for you to sit for your boards so that you are readily prepared. We do have a comprehensive examination at the end of the program that we ask that you make sure that you sit for that to make sure that you are ready to take your boards. It gives you a predictor of how likely you would be to pass so we ask that students don’t sit for their boards until they meet the requirements of that predictor exam.

And then of course our clinical experiences, we work closely with you to make sure that you are meeting all of the requirements there. And again, our goal is to make sure that you become a successful psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner across the lifespan. Here are some references. Welcome to our program.