DNP—Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) track within the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program specializes in the ongoing care of children through older adult clients to promote health and treat those living with psychiatric and mental health conditions.

Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioners are critical in all clinical settings. You will be able to assess, diagnose, treat, and manage issues related to mental health and substance abuse. In the PMHNP role, you will partner with patients and their families and interdisciplinary colleagues to promote mental health and well-being.

Sites of practice

Graduates from our PMHNP track practice independently and within larger health care teams. They work in a variety of settings and with diverse populations, including:

  • Outpatient clinics (community mental health, private practice)
  • Community health centers (urban and rural)
  • Inpatient settings
  • Correctional facilities
  • Schools
  • Home health agencies
  • Veteran’s facilities
  • Integrated primary care and behavioral health settings


All Doctor of Nursing Practice tracks are offered as full-time study only.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners are prepared to:

  • Take medical histories and conduct the physical, psychological, and psychiatric assessment, including ordering and interpreting psychiatric related diagnostic testing
  • Work with patients with psychiatric and mental health conditions such as mood disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia, and substance use disorders.
  • Generate differential diagnoses, provide psychotherapies, evidence-based intervention, and manage psychotropic medications
  • Partner with patients and families, and interdisciplinary colleagues to promote mental health and prevention
  • Advocate for nursing and the role of the PMHNP

Year one

Year one of the DNP program is offered in a hybrid format (50 percent in-person, 50-percent distance learning), and requires that you be on campus one day per week. You will complete core DNP academic classwork with peers across all DNP tracks in the School of Nursing. Content of year one courses includes:

  • leadership
  • appraisal and application of evidence to advance practice
  • health equity
  • health systems and policy
  • wellness and health promotion, and
  • quality improvement

Year two

In year 2, students establish the foundation of advanced practice education of the lifespan, which includes:

  • pathophysiology
  • advanced physical assessment, and
  • pharmacology

Students build upon this in track-specific advanced assessment, diagnosis/management, and pharmacology. You will gain advanced practice skills from these academic and lab courses to move into clinical placements during spring quarter.

Year three

As in year two, many courses require in-person attendance with some courses including distance learning methods. In the final year of your program, you will continue clinical training.

In addition, you will work with your supervisory committee to complete a DNP final project in collaboration with a local clinical agency or organization. This project is presented in the form of a final examination.

Role of the DNP

Our DNP program prepares you not only for an advanced practice role but also teaches you how to look at leading-edge research and apply that evidence to your practice.

The DNP program’s additional academic and clinical hours beyond a master’s-level degree gives you a solid foundation to become a leader in the nursing profession.  You will work with faculty who are nationally recognized for their research, and also with agencies around the Puget Sound region to gain hundreds of hours of hands-on clinical experience.

By combining advanced practice nursing skills and knowledge of how to evaluate evidence-based research, you are empowered to become a more efficient and effective practitioner.

National certifications

PMHNP graduates are eligible to sit for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan) examination through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).


The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Washington is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (