The right master of science in nursing specialization can help propel your nursing career.

A nurse speaks with a patient.Nursing can be an exceptionally rewarding career, giving you the chance to make countless lives better. But if you’re looking to advance your career by earning a master’s degree and moving from an RN to MSN, you may be unsure which of the many fields of nursing is best for you. One to consider is the psychiatric-mental health field.

Demand for psychiatric nurses is expected to grow by 26% by the year 2020.* That’s a lot of rapid growth, and it is sure to open up opportunities for nurses who specialize in psychiatry, particularly those who have earned a Master of Science in Nursing with a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialization.

What Exactly Is an MSN With a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialization?

Simply put, an MSN with a PMHNP specialization is an MSN degree focused on advanced clinical work with psychiatric and mental health patients. As with other nurse practitioner-focused MSN programs, the PMHNP program trains you to work in a manner similar to that of a physician. As such, it can put you in position to fill much-needed healthcare provider jobs and earn an average salary of $65,000 to $95,000 per year, which represents some of the highest nursing salaries in the U.S.

What Will You Learn in an MSN Program With a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialization?

A master’s degree in nursing with a PMHNP specialization will prepare you to assess psychiatric and mental health patients, diagnose psychiatric and mental health conditions, provide appropriate therapy for those patients and conditions, and prescribe medication. Specifically, a master’s in nursing program with a PMHNP specialization will prepare you to:

  • Pursue national certification as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
  • Provide quality mental health services for pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients.
  • Diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders as well as differentiate between medical disorders with psychiatric symptoms.
  • Synthesize organizational and systems leadership for cost-effective specialist nursing practice that contributes to high-quality healthcare delivery, advancement of the nursing profession, and social change.
  • Critique evidence-based literature drawing from diverse theoretical perspectives and pertinent research to guide decision-making that demonstrates best practices for specialist nursing practice in a global society.
  • Integratively assess, diagnose, plan, implement, and evaluate cost-effective healthcare strategies that reduce health disparities by patient and population advocacy for access to specialist nursing care.
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate using audience-specific oral, written, and information technology means for professional delivery of specialist nursing care.
  • Evaluate health needs of diverse populations for necessary teaching or coaching functions based on specialist nursing knowledge to restore and promote health and prevent illness and injury.
  • Exhibit an ongoing commitment to professional development and the value of nursing theories and ethical principles (altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity, social justice) in accordance with ethically responsible, legally accountable specialist nursing practice.
  • Implement specialist nursing roles to promote quality improvement of patient-centered care in accordance with professional practice standards that transform health outcomes for diverse populations.

Where Can You Work as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?

Numerous healthcare providers and other types of employers seek psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners. Those who hold an MSN degree with a PMHNP specialization work at:

  • Inpatient or outpatient psychiatric practices
  • Private psychiatric practices
  • Mental health clinics
  • Correctional facilities
  • Residential substance abuse facilities
  • Inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment programs
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Community mental health centers
  • Public and private schools
  • General hospitals

What’s the Best Way to Earn an MSN With a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialization?

If you’re currently an RN, you may be worried that earning an MSN degree will disrupt your life. But thanks to online learning, earning your master’s degree is more convenient than ever before.

Through an online MSN program, you can complete the majority of your coursework from home. Plus, when you earn your master’s in nursing online, you’ll enjoy a flexible learning platform that lets you focus on your education at the times of day that work best for you. You can even find nursing schools that offer RN to MSN online programs, so you can earn your bachelor’s degree while working toward your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

As for which online nursing schools to consider, no school graduates more MSN students than Walden University. Students across the nation choose Walden for its student-centered approach, expert faculty that’s composed of 100% doctorally prepared instructors, partnerships with 300 leading healthcare employers and associations, and commitment to social change. Walden is a solid choice for anyone who wants to take advantage of online education and earn a Master of Science in Nursing with a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) specialization.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialization online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


*Nurse Journal, Psychiatric Nursing Careers & Salary Outlook, on the internet at https://nursejournal.org/psychiatric-nursing/psychiatric-nursing-careers-salary-outlook.

Nurse Journal, What Is the Average Salary for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners? on the internet at https://nursejournal.org/nurse-practitioner/what-is-the-average-salary-for-psychiatric-nurse-practitioners.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Retrieved July 2017, using CIP code 51.3801 (Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse). Includes 2016 preliminary data.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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