RegisteredNursing.org Staff Writers | Updated/Verified: Jan 10, 2023
Earning a post-master's certificate in the field of psychiatry is beneficial to many disciplines in advanced-practice nursing. Not only can a psychiatric nurse practitioner (NP) work as a patient's primary mental health provider, but family, adult-gerontology, pediatric, and women's health NPs can benefit from this certificate as well to provide holistic care to their patients.
Choosing a PMHNP Post-Master's Certificate Program
Selecting a psychiatric NP post-master's degree program can be a difficult choice. Many are not sure quite where to begin. The following serve as starting points when selecting a psychiatric post-master's certificate program:
Accreditation– Ensuring adequate accreditation is essential when choosing a post-master's certificate program. The two main accreditation agencies are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Some schools are accredited locally, but to ensure licensure and credentialing, the school should be accredited by one of these two entities.
Cost– The cost to attend a post-master's certificate program is one of the most significant deciding factors when choosing a school. The cost can vary greatly between schools, states, and even cities. Private schools tend to have a higher cost. Students should take into consideration not just tuition fees, but the cost of supplies and technology needs as well.
Length– The length of time to completion is also a major consideration. The length of time depends on the nurse's educational background; if the student has already completed advanced pharmacology, physiology, and health assessment courses, the post-master's certificate program will be shorter.
Online Options– Many nurses who choose to return to school are already working. Additionally, nurses can work days, evenings, nights, holidays, and weekends. Many nurses need the flexibility that online learning offers. Thankfully, more and more online programs are available for students.
Internship/Externship Options– Many post-master's certificate programs are contracted with local healthcare facilities so students can gain essential clinical knowledge before Students should consider the options available when selecting a school. For psychiatric post-master's certificate program students, they should look at which facility will provide them with the most robust and well-rounded experience.
As stated earlier, online learning is becoming more and more prevalent. However, choosing online learning versus classroom learning is an individual choice, as every student has different needs.
Online vs. Classroom-Based Psychiatric NP Post-Master's Certificate Programs
One of the advantages of online learning is the flexibility. Students can study when they want, and when they can. Night shift nurses can log on in the middle of the night. Students can study during holidays. The flexibility of online programs allows students to work with their schedule, rather than the other way around.
Another advantage is time. Students can avoid wasting time commuting, parking, and also save money on transportation. They simply need a computer and internet access.
Students can also learn at their own pace and use their individual learning and study methods. This can help students retain key concepts and perform better in the program.
One of the disadvantages of online learning is the lack of peer contact. Many students value the time spent with peers, exchanging knowledge, and overall support. While peer support can still be available with online learning, it is often via electronic communication.
Another disadvantage is that knowledge of technology is required. One must know how to use the internet and navigate the websites. While many young students are already well-versed in technology, some may not be, and this could present a challenge.
The cost of the necessary technology can also be considered a disadvantage. Students may need to purchase a computer or laptop, webcam, and other supplies which can be costly.
There are other considerations with online learning that prospective students should be aware of:
Accreditation– As stated earlier, more and more online programs are popping up. Students should look closely at a school's accreditation status- especially with online programs. Many schools advertise quick completion and lowest rates- but are they nationally recognized? Students need to ensure that there will not be any licensing or certification issues after graduation- which may occur if a school is not nationally accredited.
Program Length– Many online programs may advertise "shortest program available." Students need to look closely to make sure all the required curriculum is covered for licensure and certification.
While admission requirements may vary between schools, general admission requirements for a psychiatric post-master's certificate program may include:
Master's degree from an accredited school
Current RN/NP license
Submission of a resume/CV
A written statement of purpose/goal statement
Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher (specific GPA requirements may vary)
Submission of transcripts from prior educational institutions
Prior clinical experience
Psychiatric Post-Master's Certificate Curriculum
For advanced-practice nursing, students must complete advanced pharmacology, health assessment, and physiology courses. If not already taken, prospective students must complete these core courses. Additional courses specific to the psychiatric discipline may include: