University of Nevada, Reno's Orvis School of Nursing was recently approved for the addition of a new educational curriculum, the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner track, within the Master of Science in Nursing degree program. The track will be open to those enrolling in the MSN program at the Orvis School of Nursing for fall semester 2015.
The new track is designed to prepare psychiatric nurse practitioners who will address acute and chronic mental health problems in the community. The role of the psychiatric nurse practitioner will focus on mental health issues across the lifespan: caring for clients in childhood, adolescence, adulthood and geriatric stages of life.
The new psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner track will prepare students to assess clients and make psychiatric diagnoses, determine and implement treatment plans and evaluate their outcomes, provide psychotherapy on an individual, group, or family basis; and ensure clients have the best support available. As an advanced nurse practitioner, Orvis graduates will also have prescriptive authority enabling them to offer a full spectrum of care for their clients.
Those who successfully complete the MSN degree program in this track will be able to utilize necessary elements of their skills to develop plans of care in conjunction with their clients' wishes for care. Additionally they will be prepared to consult with primary care providers who are the defacto providers of mental health services for many of their clients.
The application process will be the same as other tracks within the degree. Participating students will cover all the general core classes and specifics of psychiatric-mental health. The track will include 52-54 credit hours of dynamic, core and specialty courses.
"At the moment, our review of Nevada State Board of Nursing data suggests between 10 and 25 psychiatric nurse practitioners in the state, and two of them are here in our school," explains Sandra Talley, Ph. D., an endowed professor at the Orvis School of Nursing. "With this new track, we will be able to increase the workforce in psychiatric care and provide more assistance to those areas with limited specialized care."
Although advanced practice psychiatric nursing programs have been in existence since the 1970s, this is the first one to be offered at the University of Nevada. Nevada's unique needs will be integrated into the curriculum so that graduates have an appreciation of how they can meld traditional care with the diversity and customs of the state. The Orvis School of Nursing is also expecting to work with members of the University of Nevada School of Medicine's psychiatry department to develop an interdisciplinary educational framework for graduates.