How to become a PMHNP?

  1. Hi everyone,

    I'm currently in an ADN program but my background is in psychology, in which I have a BA. Given my non-nursing baccalaureate degree, what would be a good path for me to take to become a PMHNP? Any suggestions welcomed and appreciated!
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    About Julie_0507

    Joined: Nov '13; Posts: 12
    Student; from US


  3. by   chevyv
    I'm not sure you can go into a NP program without your BSN regardless if you have a BA in psych. There may be a few schools where you can bridge and earn your BSN and NP kind of together, but it is rigorous. I know not all NP programs have a psych NP track but I also have researched and there are enough that do offer the psych track.

    I guess whatever you feel comfortable with would be good. Good luck!
  4. by   MrsStudentNurse
    Wouldn't a msn be best?! Basically it's a bachelors degree to masters on nursing but you'd still be considered an RN when it's all said and done. You'd then likely have to still go for np an additional two years.
  5. by   whill08
    1. Finish your ADN
    2. Pass NCLEX
    3. If possible, find a psych RN position (highly recommended, it's important to make sure you really enjoy psych nursing before making the commitment to become a PMHNP)
    4. Obtain BSN (there are accelerated RN to BSN for nurses that have a bachelors in another field, which might be a quicker option).
    5. Apply to a PMHNP program (could be MSN or DNP depending on where you choose to go)

    Your BA in psychology will not benefit you as far as credits go towards your PMHNP, it might speed up the BSN process though.
  6. by   mzaur
    I have a BA in psych. I just applied to direct entry programs and will start in the fall. They are accelerated programs of 2-3 years where you get your RN and then MSN. No RN experience is necessary for PMHNP as it's a different role and there is a lot of demand for psychiatric prescribers, especially if you live in an independent practice state. (But I do agree that it's important to get some experience to see if you even live working in this field. I have a couple years of outpatient psych experience as a volunteer). But the BSN is not necessary. I've spoken to several NPs who don't have a BSN and was told that it did not prevent them from getting jobs.

    But since you're already in an ADN program, you should finish and then apply to an RN to MSN program, like the one at Vanderbilt.

    Quote from Carley77
    Wouldn't a msn be best?! Basically it's a bachelors degree to masters on nursing but you'd still be considered an RN when it's all said and done. You'd then likely have to still go for np an additional two years.
    Hmm, what kind of MSN degree are you talking about? Typically MSN degrees are granted in NP programs, but I have seen some generalist MSN degrees that only lead to Clinical Nurse Leader, which as you say is essentially an RN. I'm doing a direct entry program for non-nursing bachelors, and I will get an MSN, but I will be an NP once I'm done. So it depends on the program.
    Last edit by mzaur on Feb 3, '14
  7. by   whill08
    I agree that RN experience is not technically "necessary", but it makes the transition to graduate coursework/clinical much easier. Something as simple as therapeutic patient interaction cannot be learned from a book, but is a skill that comes with experience. My point is that textbooks and reality are two very different worlds. Yes the APRN role is different than the RN role, but remember you will be practicing advanced nursing and should build upon your nursing knowledge. I have no doubt there are PMHNPs that had no prior nursing experience that go on to be wonderful providers. However, I have seen the few classmates I have that don't have psych nursing experience struggle more so than the rest of us. Also keep in mind that many programs require at least some nursing experience, although I don't believe it has to be in the speciality you're studying. I felt like the BSN courses I took were nearly useless except to prepare me for the "fluff" classes I have had in my MSN program. Nothing quite compares to nursing fluff-type courses, but they are much more tolerable when you have some experience with what the professors are looking for. I don't have any experience with all of the distance programs so often spoken of on AN, I'm sure they are satisfactory programs. However, don't overlook your local state schools, they might offer options that can be completed just as quickly and for much less money. Just the opinion of someone who's been there and done that
  8. by   ErinKateL
    I have a BS in Psych 2005, received my ADN 2011, BSN 2012, and entered a PMHNP-DNP program in 2013. If I can maintain a full course load I will be done summer 2016. If I could do it again, I would do an accelerated BSN program and not waste my time with the ADN. My goal entering nursing was to be a PMHNP.