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Online MSN: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Curriculum

Curriculum Details

42 total credits required

Sacred Heart University’s online MSN-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program (PMHNP) features a comprehensive curriculum including core courses in Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Health Assessment, and Advanced Pathophysiology for the Nurse Practitioner. Meanwhile, clinical practicums provide real-world experience in diverse healthcare settings, emphasizing patient-centered care and evidence-based practice. Graduates are well-equipped to make a significant impact as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners in the healthcare industry.

Core Courses


This core course focuses on history, policy, and ethics in nursing and health care. It examines health care policy, including global health considerations, health care financing, quality and safety in health care, and the ethics of health care. Current practices in nursing and health care are viewed from the past and present as a way to contemplate the future. The course builds on a framework of critical thinking, as students explore aspects of the history of nursing and medicine, analysis of current policy development, and implications of the past for present and future actions in nursing and health care.

This course is one of the graduate core classes that provides the foundation for advanced practice nursing. The role of the advance practice nurse as a member of the profession will be emphasized. Students will be introduced to theories from nursing, natural, social, biological and organizational sciences to frame their future practice. Further, students consider issues of cultural diversity and competence to assure the delivery of culturally competent care and minimization of health disparities.

This course studies the field of research and its relationship to problems related to nursing and health care. Each step of the research process is explored in-depth to develop the skills to apply research to practice. Students apply critical analysis to relevant research literature to determine its usefulness and application. Statistical methods and concepts are reviewed and integrated throughout the course to promote an understanding of those concepts within the context of health care research. Emphasis is on understanding the research process through proposal development.

This course supports a comprehensive understanding of the pathophysiological disease processes mostly commonly seen afflicting patients across the lifespan. Clinical pathology content addresses alterations in major body systems that are commonly found in primary care settings, as well as common testing used in the diagnostic process.

This class focuses on the pharmacotherapeutic principles of drugs most commonly used in the primary care setting. Topics include the pharmacologic effects and clinical uses of various drug groups and classifications. Emphasis is placed on rational drug therapy for agent selection, monitoring drug therapies, identification and avoidance of adverse drug reactions and interactions, and extensive patient education and counseling.

Students learn to assess in the biopsychosocial health status of clients across the life span in depth by obtaining a complete and accurate health history and by performing a thorough physical examination, then using the acquired data to formulate a working medical diagnosis. Content is designed to provide correlation of assessment strategies with an understanding of the mechanisms of illness and health problems of the main body systems, as well as to address the integration of common medical testing. Students explore role of the advanced practice nurse in the current health care delivery system. The laboratory component enables students to develop advanced assessment skills.

This course, the first within the Family, Primary Care, and Community sequence, addresses selected family, primary care, and community theories within the context of advanced practice nursing and clinical leadership roles. The family system is viewed as both unique and dynamic, existing interdependently with the community and the environment and requiring advanced nursing expertise and caring at various times across the life cycle. Particular emphasis is placed on family and community assessment strategies, the impact of culture upon the family and community systems, and the impact of various primary care-oriented health problems on family roles and functions. In addition, relevant concepts and principles of epidemiology are applied to the current and emerging health status of families and communities. Faculty collaborate with students as they apply advanced clinical knowledge to the family system in a community setting. Students function interdependently with other health team members in the care of families and evaluate a plan of care using standards for advanced clinical practice.

This course provides theoretical and clinical content, including 180 supervised required hours of advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing care across the lifespan with emphasis on late adolescence through adulthood, within a variety of behavioral health settings.

The focus is on clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment decision-making for commonly encountered behavioral health disorders in adults. From the patient interview and assessment to the diagnostic work-up and treatment planning, students learn to apply concepts from prior coursework to understand patients’ underlying psychopathological processes and develop differential diagnoses and management plans, including psychopharmacologic treatments and psychotherapeutic modalities.

This course requires theoretical and clinical content, including a total of 180 supervised required hours of care across the lifespan with emphasis on pediatric and adolescent patients within a variety of behavioral health settings. A minimum of 100 hours of clinical practicum is specifically devoted to the care of patients under age 18. The focus is on refining and developing increased competency as a PMHNP in diagnostic and clinical interventions with an increasingly diverse and complex caseload, including crisis intervention and managing psychiatric emergencies. Identification and treatment of developmental and age-specific disorders, genetic aspects of disease presentation and treatment, as well as interdisciplinary perspectives and community resources are emphasized. 180 hours of supervised required hours of care.

This course provides theoretical and clinical content, including 180 supervised required hours of advanced psychiatric mental health nursing care across the lifespan with emphasis on individuals, including older adults, couples, and families, within a variety of behavioral health settings. Students examine multi-factorial influences of individual and family functioning and coping, among patients of all ages from pediatric to older adults, including those with co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions. By also incorporating knowledge of the generational impact of behavioral health conditions on families, students learn strategies to promote effective assessment, diagnosis, and intervention for psychiatric disorders affecting individuals and families. Further refinement of clinical diagnostic and treatment competencies, including a focus on outcomes evaluation for acute and chronic mental health conditions, termination, and increased independence within the role of the PMHNP are emphasized. 180 required hours of advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing care.

This course builds on knowledge of advanced pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment by examining safe and effective use of medications used to treat mental health disorders across the lifespan. Topics will include the examination of pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and drug interactions of these medications in congruence with the most recent evidence. Underlying pathophysiologic processes of mental health disorders are examined to provide context for differential diagnosis and pharmacological management. These disorders include major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, bipolar illness, and psychosis across the lifespan, including medications used in special populations such as pediatrics, the geriatrics, and pregnancy. Additional focus is the impact of the psychoactive medications on the client, family and community. Content is presented in relation to the role of the psychiatric-mental health nurse who functions in an advanced role. Students learn important considerations for selecting medications to include best practices and clinical guidelines, patient preference, safety profile, setting, monitoring requirements, and long-term patient management.

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