DNP—Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Students in our Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) track within the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program perform many of the same duties as psychiatrists and therapists. Some of these duties include assessment, diagnosis, and management of issues related to mental health and substance abuse.

You will help a diverse range of patients, from children through older adults, who experience various psychiatric and mental disorders. In the PMHNP role, you will partner with patients and their families 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 health centers (urban and rural)
  • Inpatient settings
  • Correctional facilities
  • Home health agencies
  • Schools
  • Veteran’s facilities


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 physical and psychological assessment, including ordering and interpreting psychiatric related diagnostic testing
  • Work with patients who have a number of mental health issues, including: psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, and schizophrenia
  • Manage medications and create holistic, long-term treatment plans
  • Generate differential diagnoses and manage psychiatric and mental health problems
  • Prescribe and evaluate treatment plan (pharmacological and non-pharmacological
  • Partner with patients and families for mental health promotion and illness prevention
  • Advocate for nursing and the role of the PMHNP
The information provided below describes the regular, in-person program offering. Due to the COVID pandemic, however, we are following the State of Washington and campus-wide guidance for in-person attendance, and are offering most courses in a distance learning format.

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

Some DNP courses include distance learning methods, but many courses are in-person and require weekly attendance (generally one to two days per week). Your second year includes track-focused classes, seminars, and clinical experiences.

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 (