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Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have additional questions? Please contact us:


Do I have to be a full-time student to enroll?

NO. While some learners are full-time, the majority attend on a part-time basis. You can vary the number of credits taken from quarter to quarter, to better match your school activities with other life demands.

Will it be possible for me to continue working while I am enrolled in this specialty?

YES. The majority of students work while attending the program. While students sometimes work full-time, most try to reduce their work hours to less than full-time for at least part of the program.

Are there any hospitals financially supporting their nurses' graduate studies?

YES. As an employee benefit, health care agencies affiliated with the state (eg, University Hospital, Harborview, Children’s Hospital, Western State Hospital) will provide tuition waivers for up to 6 credits per quarter for employees working at least half-time. This is particularly beneficial for out-of-state students, who would otherwise pay out-of-state tuition. Some other hospitals, including the VA, reimburse some school expenses. Check employee benefits at any agency at which you’d like to work.

What kind of experience(s) or qualities do you look for in applicants? (clinical experiences, academic ability to succeed, been out of school for a long time etc.)

Many kinds of backgrounds prepare students for success in our program. We welcome both new nurses and long-experienced nurses. Some applicants have strong backgrounds in psychiatric-mental health nursing, and others have never before worked specifically with people with mental disorders. In applications, we like to hear of your leadership activities in your current or past nursing positions, your experiences with people from other cultures or in unusual situations. We are interested in your particular interests in nursing -- what you hope to learn in our program and what you want to professionally after completing the program.

I live far from Seattle and attending class three or four times a week is a quite challenge for me. Are there distance learning (DL) options available for students like me?

The faculty are committed to easing access for students by minimizing the number of trips to campus. Thus, we always group courses, so when you come, you can usually take two classes on that day. We use Tuesdays and (especially) Wednesdays as our primary teaching days. Occasionally there is a Thursday course.

Many (though not all) of our courses are taught with distance enhancements some of the times they are taught. In this instance, a course is video-streamed or video-conferenced (and soon there will be greater use of the computer for real-time participation in a course from a distance), and a student comes to campus only 2-3 times during the quarter. Many courses also have some on-line work that all students participate in from off campus.

What can you tell me about the availability of financial aid or scholarship funds for PMHNP students?

Please check the SoN website: http://nursing.uw.edu/financial-aid

There is a state program that reimburses health career students’ loans for working in a rural area after graduation (e.g. Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship). Please check the following site for state and federal aid programs: http://www.wsac.wa.gov/paying/waaidprgm/waaidprgmindex.asp

I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to school. Can I take a class without applying for admission?

YES. You may apply for admission as a Graduate Non-matriculated student. The process is not complicated, and many program courses can be taken as a GNM student. (Check the SON Website to see the date for submitting a GNM application for a course in a particular quarter.) Our GNM adviser will be glad to provide advice regarding available courses. Should you subsequently decide to apply (and are accepted) to the program, up to 12 GNM credits can be applied to your program. After 1 or 2 courses, you’ll be very clear about whether you want to apply; many students start out this way.

What can you tell me about employment opportunities after finishing the program? What are the venues I can take?

Opportunities for employment are quite plentiful. There are often positions available in Seattle, and there are even more positions available in the suburban and rural areas. Graduates work in community mental health centers, hospital clinics, community health clinics, nursing homes, private practice (alone or with a group), correctional facilities, tribal clinics and many other places. Different states have different requirements for advanced practice nurses. If you will practice in another state, be sure to consult their state nursing authority early on. States differ considerably in their requirements for advanced practice and in characteristics of practice within their boundaries.

Do I need an RN license and BSN degree to apply?

You must have an unrestricted RN license for practice in Washington State, and you must have a bachelors degree, although not necessarily in nursing.

I took the GRE several years ago; do I have to take it again?

NO. Beginning with students applying for admission in Summer Quarter 2007, GRE scores is no longer be required for applicants to any of the School of Nursing's graduate degree programs.

The School of Nursing (SoN) has not found GRE scores to be predictive of success in its graduate programs, including the MN, MS, MEPN, DNP, and PhD programs. Other factors considered in the review of applications have been found to be better predictors of success, including holistic review of applicant experience and applicant previous GPA. Additionally, the School’s recruitment experts have found that the GRE presents a significant deterrent to application, as it is both expensive and intimidating for applicants, particularly to women and applicants of color.

On March 11, 2007, the Graduate Faculty of the School of Nursing (SoN) Seattle campus voted to remove the GRE as a requirement for application and admission to the School of Nursing's graduate programs, including the MN, MS, DNP, and PhD programs, and requested that SoN graduate curriculum coordinating committees consider alternative evidence to evaluate applicant scholarship.

I already have a DNP degree in nursing but want to pursue training in psychiatric mental health; what classes will I need to take to finish the certificate program? Who do I contact to review my transcript(s)?

If you already have a DNP degree in nursing, you qualify to apply to our Graduate Certificate Program in Advanced Practice Nursing (GCPAPN). One of our faculty will review your prior graduate coursework to see which of our required courses have already been satisfied by your prior coursework. She will then develop an individualized course plan for you, and you will take needed courses along with the DNP students. The amount of coursework you will need varies considerably, depending upon the type of coursework in your DNP program.

What kind of clinical placements does your program offer?

We use a variety of placements. Students request clinical placements when they anticipate taking a clinical in the next quarter, and our site coordinator arranges placements with preceptors. All learners need placements in which they develop skills in assessment and in pharmacologic and interpersonal therapeutics. You indicate the types of clients you want to work with and the kinds of skills you want to work on at the particular time.

I live out of state; can I attend your program through distance learning (are all of your courses accessible online)?

NO. We hold classes in Seattle, and even with distance enhancements, all students in our program have to come to at least 2 (sometimes more) of the classes in every course. Therefore, the program is infeasible for students in other states. Please contact us if you have questions about distance learning.

Is it possible to begin the PMHNP program in Spring/Winter/Summer Quarter, versus beginning in Autumn Quarter? Are the classes sequential?

New students officially begin the program in summer or autumn quarters, but because of the GNM mechanism, people begin coursework in any quarter. Thus, when beginning the program officially, some students already have some of the coursework completed.

Is it possible to connect with a current PMHNP student (to ask questions about their experiences, etc.)?

Usually YES. Please contact Rica O’Connor roc@uw.edu or Rebecca Wood pmhnp@uw.edu to let us know the kinds of questions you have, and we will contact a current student we think would be a good respondent. For example, if you wonder about participating in classes while you have 2 preschoolers, we will identify a student with young children to ask to e-mail with you.