Allen College to Offer Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

December 9, 2011

WATERLOO, Iowa — In response to a chronic and growing shortage of mental health specialists in Iowa, Allen college initiated an adult psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (APMHNP) track of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program in 2008. The first cohort of eight students completed the track in 2010 and passed the national certification examination required to work as psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners. A second cohort of 13 students will complete the APMHNP track in 2012. In early December of this year the Iowa Board of Nursing approved Allen College’s request to shift the focus of the track from adult to Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. 

The change will expand the population focus of the track to include populations through the life span from infancy through older adult. The College requested the change to reflect recommendations embedded in the 2008 Consensus Model for APRN [Advanced Practice Registered Nurse] Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education. Multiple APRN stakeholder nursing organizations worked for nearly 4 years to complete this model in efforts to achieve greater alignment of the elements needed to prepare APRNs to be competent practitioners and ensure public safety. In 2010 a joint task force of the International Society of Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurses and the American Psychiatric Nurses Association recommended “That there will be one entry educational focus for the future: PMH NP with preparation across the lifespan, addressing mental health promotion and mental illness diagnosis and treatment.”

The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation includes:

  • A description of a futuristic model for regulation of APRNS that includes requirements for education, accreditation, certification and licensing;
  • A definition of the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse;
  • A definition of broad-based APRN education;
  • A model for regulation that ensures APRN education and certification as a valid and reliable process, that is based on nationally recognized and accepted standards;
  • Uniform recommendations for licensing bodies across states; a process and characteristics for recognizing a new APRN role; and
  • A definition of an APRN specialty that allows for the profession to meet future patient and nursing needs.

The APRN Regulatory Model will be implemented in every state and program by 2015.

The revised didactic portion of the curriculum addresses age-appropriate assessment, diagnosis, interventions, and the needs and issues across the lifespan. Supervised practica will include psychiatric mental health services in a variety of settings across the lifespan. The curriculum will also incorporate preparation for psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological modalities to meet the needs of clients throughout the lifespan.

Allen College will implement the curriculum changes by the 2012 fall semester. Students enrolling in the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner specialty courses in the spring of 2013 or thereafter will be prepared for subsequent changes to the national certification exams and will qualify to sit for the family psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner exam.

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