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last year of FNP school but want PMHNP

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Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

I'd like your non-judgmental advice please

I'm on my last year of my DNP FNP program and becoming more and more interested in becoming a PMHNP. My school does not offer PMHNP, so I do not have the option to simply change specialty within the program.

My decision is to continue and finish my FNP and get PMHNP post DNP certificate after

Any suggestions/thoughts?

Edited by jensfbay

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

If you have nothing psych related on your resume, get some. Even though PMHNP is in demand, having experience will expand your opportunities. In my neck of the wood, many employers won't consider people with no psych experience because a majority of the PMHNPs (even Direct-Entry students) have considerable experience working with this population.

jensfbay, BSN

Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

thank you for your comment, umbdude. I am an RN with 15 years experience and a bachelors in psychology. My RN and non-RN experience include the following: inpatient trauma, triage, internship with preschool with developmental disabilities and non-RN work with adult with developmental disabilities, and homehealth. Obviously, no specific psych nursing experience. would my future employers consider these experiences enough?

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

2 minutes ago, jensfbay said:

thank you for your comment, umbdude. I am an RN with 15 years experience and a bachelors in psychology. My RN and non-RN experience include the following: inpatient trauma, triage, internship with preschool with developmental disabilities and non-RN work with adult with developmental disabilities, and homehealth. Obviously, no specific psych nursing experience. would my future employers consider these experiences enough?

It really varies and depends on where you live. Developmental disabilities is a narrow sub-specialty in psych. Most of what PMHNPs deal with are mood disorders, anxiety, psychotic disorders, substance use, personality d/o, and most commonly a combination of all the above.

If you live in an area that has a huge shortage, it really won't matter and you'll get a job. Having experience just gives you a bit more opportunities that's all. Also, it does help when you become a new-grad working with complex psych patients.

jensfbay, BSN

Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

thank you, umbdude! you've got some really good info here.

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

You're welcome. Good luck!

WestCoastSunRN, MSN, CNS

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 25 years experience.

I think it's completely reasonable to get the post-grad cert. I also think, the way APRN consensus model has changed things, it's not unusual for someone to realize they may need another certification to do all that they really want to do. I agree - if you can get some psych nursing experience maybe during this last year of your DNP - that would be so beneficial for you. It would also test the waters really well about your decision to venture into PMHNP!

jensfbay, BSN

Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

That's a great suggestion, WestCoastSunRN!. Do you happen to know if it's appropriate for NP students to get a psych clinical rotation? I would very much like to request that (I go to a brick and mortar school where they chose clinicals for us).

Also, of course, what I'm concerned about too is the tuition/costs that comes with getting post-grad certification. I'm thinking about possibly teaching at a university that offers a PMHNP certification, so I can get some tuition assistance. Not sure if you or anybody are familiar with such a set up.

WestCoastSunRN, MSN, CNS

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 25 years experience.

I'm a CNS, so our clinical rotations were expected to be specialized. FNP is different. However, you may be able to ask for a geri-psych rotation (even a short one) to fulfill all/some of your geriatric requirement. It's definitely worth asking.

I like the idea of teaching and getting tuition assistance - but you won't make much money doing that (if that's a factor) - but it could be worth it depending on how much the cert savings is.

jensfbay, BSN

Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

Thank you! That's anther great and specific suggestion- geri-psych rotation.

I understand your comment about the tuition assistance and low pay in teaching. That's definitely a factor to consider. Thank you for such an informative answer

WestCoastSunRN, MSN, CNS

Specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU. Has 25 years experience.

You're welcome. Best to you!

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

Certainly, get the PMHNP certificate if that is what you are passionate about. That is why these certificate programs exist.

It appears you have some great psych experience already.

1) You can gain more psych experience as an FNP. The majority of mental health treatment is rendered by primary care providers. So become very knowledgeable about treating the most common psych conditions in primary care: anxiety, depression, ADHD. Generally, bipolar disorder and psychoses are referred to a mental health provider, but learn as much as you can about treating these conditions, too.

2) You can gain a reputation in your clinic as the "go to" provider for mental health (this is what I did)

3) If you can choose your final clinical rotation, choose one with a tie-in to psych. For example, I chose chronic pain, since that is linked to depression and anxiety. Diabetes would also be a good one, since there are many diabetic patients that are noncompliant with treatment - some weird psychopathology going on here. If you can get a rotation in a homeless clinic, that would be great. I'm sure you can come up with others.

4) There is a need for providers who understand physical health issues and mental health issues. My experience is many individuals with physical health issues also have mental health issues and these folks can't take good care of themselves until their mental health issues are addressed.

5) In some areas, there is such a shortage of mental health providers that FNPs are being hired by mental health clinics. However, this bears risks and I would not advise doing this right out of school. Get some solid primary care and psych within primary care experience before considering this option.

Good luck

jensfbay, BSN

Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

Thank you for such a solid advice and for giving me some creative ways on how I can incorporate psych into my clinicals & future practice as an FNP. Yes, I do see some opportunities for NPs (regardless whether they're FNP or PMHNP) to work in psych, but I wouldn't be comfortable doing that as a new FNP.

Thanks again, FullGlass!

DrCOVID, DNP

Specializes in mental health/medical-surgical. Has 12 years experience.

I don't know if you know, but you can't just up and transfer grad schools. A student in my cohort (from another city) didn't realize this. She got stuck and found out the hard way she can't just transfer her credits. Schools will only take a few courses at most if that.

Since your program doesn't offer psych - 100% you need to complete it, and find a post grad cert later. I wouldn't worry too much of the cost, there are tons of cheap programs.

phil1968, ADN, BSN, LPN

Specializes in tele- 7 yrs, Pyxis- 3 yrs, med/surg 4. Has 29 years experience.

I will graduate in December from the University of Southern Mississippi in the FNP track, and I too want to do PMHNP. I was given this tip from a WHNP who is doing FNP and that is to delay graduation from the university that you attend to continue in the PMHNP program. The advantage is to still be eligible to obtain loan help while you are able to take boards and practice and garner experience.

jensfbay, BSN

Specializes in ICU, Triage, Home Health, soon-to-be FNP. Has 16 years experience.

what an interesting advise, phil. Unfortunately, my current university does not have a PMHNP program 😞

I think that would've been a really good option otherwise. Thanks!