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What makes a PMHNP applicant attractive in the eyes of grad schools?

Psychiatric   (1,832 Views 10 Comments)
by jcssagaz jcssagaz (New) New Nurse

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I'm currently working as a new grad oncology nurse hoping to get into a PMHNP program come fall of 2020. What are some things I could be doing now leading up to my applications that would help make me more appealing for admissions? I work at a university med center so I plan to take some psych courses given the tuition assistance benefits, for example. I know a friend who volunteered for a crisis hotline as well. Any advice would be appreciated!

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umbdude has 2 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych/Mental Health.

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Psych RN experience would make you a lot more appealing.

 

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SecobarbSundae is a BSN, RN and specializes in Psychiatry.

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On 2/12/2019 at 6:57 PM, jcssagaz said:

I'm currently working as a new grad oncology nurse hoping to get into a PMHNP program come fall of 2020. What are some things I could be doing now leading up to my applications that would help make me more appealing for admissions? I work at a university med center so I plan to take some psych courses given the tuition assistance benefits, for example. I know a friend who volunteered for a crisis hotline as well. Any advice would be appreciated!

Yet another PMHNP applicant that hasn't worked a single day in psychiatric nursing. Sorry to be harsh, but I agree with the above poster. 

And why is it that you want to become a PMHNP?

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On 2/16/2019 at 1:54 PM, SecobarbSundae said:

Yet another PMHNP applicant that hasn't worked a single day in psychiatric nursing. Sorry to be harsh, but I agree with the above poster. 

And why is it that you want to become a PMHNP?

I've been planning on working as a psych nurse full time while doing school part time. I'm contracted to work 18 months in my current position so I can't jump ship to a psych unit without penalty. I'm more than likely going to relocate if I get into the schools I've been looking at, so ideally I would just transition to a psych nurse from that move. I've always been fascinated and interested in psych and I had a really great experience in my psych rotation on an adolescent floor. I really connected with that population and would like that to be my main focus as an advanced practice nurse. I guess I should've stated from the beginning that psych experience is the obvious choice.

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umbdude has 2 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych/Mental Health.

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I think if you can craft an essay that convincingly explains a logical path from onco to psych and display a realistic understanding of the PMHNP roles, you should be fine. Shadowing PMHNPs can be greatly beneficial for you. Volunteering at a crisis hotline isn't a bad idea. 

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132 Posts; 5,076 Profile Views

I'm also  curious if you have the psych experience but not the GPA? I realize the minimum is 3.0 for many of these programs. I'm starting to feel a bit discouraged now. I think that's why I held of from applying because I just assumed they wont look at my application.

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A few things I can think of.

1. Join the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 

2. Get Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) certified.

3. Learn the role of the PMHNP and the scope of practice in your state.

4. Most importantly, get Psych experience. I worked on several types of inpatient units of all ages for several years before applying and it put me wayyyyyy ahead of everyone else in my class because of my experience and prior knowledge.  

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1 hour ago, NurseNinja1990 said:

A few things I can think of.

1. Join the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 

2. Get Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) certified.

3. Learn the role of the PMHNP and the scope of practice in your state.

4. Most importantly, get Psych experience. I worked on several types of inpatient units of all ages for several years before applying and it put me wayyyyyy ahead of everyone else in my class because of my experience and prior knowledge.  

Thanks Nurse Ninja, excellent tips!

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myoglobin has 11 years experience as a ASN, BSN, MSN and specializes in ICU, trauma, neuro.

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As long as you have a reasonable GPA (over 3.2 or so) you should be fine.  I'm finishing my PMHNP with no explicit psych experience and have several job offers (my experience was 10 years mostly MSICU, Neuro ICU, and PCU) while my wife has been a PMHNP for the past four years and she also had no specific psych experience before graduation. Psych experience is of course optimal, but you will learn the basics in school and clinical and the rest on the job. Frankly, so many of the board certified psychiatrists that I see with many years of experience do such a poor job with medical management at least outpatient (multiple antipsychotics at the same time, no labs ordered or followed up upon for years, long term prescription of benzodiazepines without counseling or plans to diminish or discontinue doses) that you would almost have to make an active effort to do worse. Frankly, I would estimate that most people who learn the basics and practice consistent conservative practice will often do better than many with extensive experience if they simply follow evidence based treatment protocols as outlined in tools such as UpToDate, and Epocrates and refer prudently for neurological and medical issues. 

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8 hours ago, myoglobin said:

As long as you have a reasonable GPA (over 3.2 or so) you should be fine.  I'm finishing my PMHNP with no explicit psych experience and have several job offers (my experience was 10 years mostly MSICU, Neuro ICU, and PCU) while my wife has been a PMHNP for the past four years and she also had no specific psych experience before graduation. Psych experience is of course optimal, but you will learn the basics in school and clinical and the rest on the job. Frankly, so many of the board certified psychiatrists that I see with many years of experience do such a poor job with medical management at least outpatient (multiple antipsychotics at the same time, no labs ordered or followed up upon for years, long term prescription of benzodiazepines without counseling or plans to diminish or discontinue doses) that you would almost have to make an active effort to do worse. Frankly, I would estimate that most people who learn the basics and practice consistent conservative practice will often do better than many with extensive experience if they simply follow evidence based treatment protocols as outlined in tools such as UpToDate, and Epocrates and refer prudently for neurological and medical issues. 

I totally agree! As a nurse, I observed the difference between psychiatrists and Psych-NP, and I dont want to make one better than the other because they both practice "differently". But I do feel the Psych-NPs are definitely proactive with doing blood work from time to time to assess Depakote, lithium levels, etc. The Psychiatrist that I worked with my experience would "collaborate " with the nurses but in the same breath,  didnt really take our opinions and clinical judgment, seriously. We even work with a medical doctor in our clinic and it has been a pain to work with her as well. But I know all Drs are not the same and some Psych-NPs or NPs in general may be hard to work with too. But I do appreciate the Psych-NP we have on our team, he is very accurate and proactive. 

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