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Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Focus


The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) Psychiatric Mental Health (PMH) master’s specialty prepares nurse practitioners to enter the workplace with the knowledge, skills, and abilities essential to implement the full scope of practice of a licensed independent nurse practitioner (NP).  The curriculum builds upon four core PMHNP competencies: advanced health assessment (physical and psychosocial); diagnosis (diagnosis of mental disorders, pathophysiology, and neurophysiology); psychotherapy (individual, group, and family); and medication management (pharmacology and psychopharmacology). Other courses develop competencies in health care systems, best-practice research utilization and translation, and health care quality improvement.

Clinical opportunities for sub-specialization related to high-risk populations, e.g., geriatric, children and adolescents, severe and persistent mental disorders, and persons with substance use disorders, are available by pairing students with faculty specialists and preceptors. UMSON’s location in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C.-Annapolis triangle provides a rich and varied selection of clinical sites. Graduates are prepared to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (Family) certification examination. Full-time, part-time, and post-master's (non-degree) options are available.

Fall 2013 Update

Adult psychiatric nurse practitioners seeking eligibility for the Family Psychiatric Nurse Certification Exam must:

  1. Apply to the specialty for fall 2013 before the posted deadline and be admitted. This cohort of students will be the last admitted to the Post-MS program in this specialty.
  2. After being admitted, complete an individualized gap analysis with the faculty advisor and specialty director. All coursework must be evident in academic transcripts with a lifespan approach.
  3. Currently have an active Adult Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center

Coursework is individualized but must include;

  • NURS 660   Advanced Physical Assessment Through the Lifespan (4 credits)
  • NPHY 612   Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology (3 credits)
  • NURS 752   Neurophysiology of Mental Disorders (2 credits)
  • NURS 751   Psychopharmacology (3 credits)
  • NURS 754   Seminar in Psychopharmacology for Child and Adolescent (1 credit)
  • NURS 740   Advanced Practice Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Internship (4 credits)

A minimum of 250 supervised clinical hours for the diagnosis and treatment of required populations will be obtained in NURS 740 as arranged with assigned academic advisor.  Some students may require additional hours for completion of the competencies in the specialty.

Students admitted to the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner master's specialty in fall 2013 were the final cohort of students in this specialty whose degree will culminate in the Master of Science. The application deadline for fall 2013 admission was February 1, 2013. Effective with the entering class of fall 2014, this specialty will accept applicants only to the Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Sample Plan of Full-Time Study

First Semester (Fall)
Course Title Credits
NPHY 612 Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology 3
NURS 660 Advanced Health Assessment across the Lifespan
(Clinical Hours: 90)
NRSG 668 Differential Diagnosis of Mental Disorders across the Lifespan 3
NRSG 669 Differential Diagnosis of Mental Disorders Practicum
(Clinical Hours: 90)
  Total 12
Second Semester (Spring)
Course Title Credits
NURS 701 Science and Research for Advanced Nursing Practice 4
NURS 752 Neurophysiology of Mental Disorders 2
NRSG 765 Development and Psychopathology: Issues Through the Lifespan
in Advanced Practice Nursing
NURS 664 Therapeutic Interventions across the Lifespan in Mental Health Nursing 2
NURS 665 Therapeutic Interventions across the Lifespan in Mental Health
Nursing Practicum (Clinical Hours: 135)
  Total 13
Third Semester (Summer)
Course Title Credits
NURS 622 Systems and Populations in Health Care 3
  Total 3
Fourth Semester (Fall)
Course Title Credits
NURS 723 Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 3
NURS 751 Psychopharmacology 3
NURS 754 Seminar in Psychopharmacology for Child and Adolescent 1
NURS 655 Conceptual Foundations in Family Therapy 2
NURS 656 Conceptual Foundations of Family Therapy: Practicum
(Clinical Hours: 135)
  Total 12
Fifth Semester (Spring)
Course Title Credits
NURS 659 Organizational and Professional Dimensions of Advanced Nursing
NURS 740 Advanced Practice Psychiatric and Mental Health
Nursing Internship (Clinical Hours: 180)
  Total 7

Total Credits


Total Clinical Hours



Post-Master's Option

The Psychiatric Mental Health post-master’s (non-degree) specialty prepares graduates as advanced practice psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Because mental health issues and psychiatric disorders cross all health care specialties, a variety of combined or post-master’s options are available. These include: 1) psychiatric clinical specialists who wish to expand their scope of nursing practice as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners; 2) adult, family, or pediatric nurse practitioners adding a psychiatric specialty; and 3) other master’s-prepared nurses who wish to change their specialty or add psychiatric nursing to their scope of practice. The coursework and credit loads for the various combined and post-master’s options are determined on an individual basis and are based on transcripts and previous degrees and certifications. Individualized plans of study will be customized for each post-master’s student based on a review of transcripts and “gap analysis” with the assigned advisor. Graduates are prepared to sit for the ANCC Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (Family) certification examination. The requirements for certification as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner are shown in the gap analysis table (link below), along with the courses and content areas that are required by UMSON.


Specialty Director: 

Charon Burda, MS, PMHNP-BC, assistant professor

For admission requirements and additional information, please contact Nicole Willhide, assistant director for admissions, at


Charon Burda, MS, PMHNP-BC, assistant professor and specialty director
(Mary) Jan Carroll, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, clinical instructor
Marie Cournoyer, MS, RN, CS-P, clinical instructor
Ana C. Duarte, MS, PMHNP-BC, clinical instructor
Jeanne Geiger-Brown, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor and assistant dean of research
W. Henry Gregory, Jr., PhD, assistant professor 
Pat Harris, MS, PMHNP-BC, clinical instructor
Gail Schoen Lemaire, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, CNL, associate professor and director, CNL program
Sarah Miller, MS, PMHNP-BC, clinical instructor
Lynn Oswald, PhD, RN, associate professor
Victoria Selby, MSN, PMHNP-BC, clinical instructor
Kamala Via, MS, APRN, CRNP-PHM, clinical instructor

Other Resources

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