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 anxiety and depression.  Additionally, you will be able to prescribe medications and teach patients’ families about the patient’s condition and how to respond in difference scenarios.

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)
  • 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 assessments
  • 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

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 project in collaboration with a local clinical agency or organization as part of your capstone experience. 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 cutting-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 Family PMHNP examination through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).


The University of Washington Doctor of Nursing Practice program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) through 2024.