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Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs in North Carolina - NC


The designations of certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists (CNS) or nurse practitioners (NPs) come under the umbrella of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) according to the North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBON). The minimum requirement for attaining the designation in any of the APRN categories is the completion of a formal, advanced program in nursing in addition to an unrestricted registered nurse license. NPs are the biggest category of APRNs. According to www.statehealthfacts.org, while North Carolina has 3.4% of total registered nurses in the US, the percentage of NPs in the state is only 2.2%. For a state with 3% of the total national population, this appears to suggest a shortage in the number of NPs and by association, other APRNs.

In North Carolina, psychiatric-mental health (PMH) is an APRN specialty designation available to both NPs and CNSs. Traditionally, the designation has been PMH-CNS and the PMH-NP category is more recent due to the prescriptive authority granted to NPs. This can lead to some confusion about the available master’s programs that prepare RNs for these advanced practice nursing roles.

Changes in the care of underserved populations diagnosed with, or vulnerable to, psychiatric disorders have broadened the possibilities for PMH. Since PMHs (both CNSs and NPs) can provide quality psychiatric and mental health care arguably similar to a psychotherapist, psychiatrist and other related professionals, the demand for this profession is expected to stay high.

There are accredited psychiatric nurse practitioner programs in North Carolina university campuses. For registered nursing professionals including those practicing in some of the well-known hospitals in the state including Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center, Rutherford Hospital, and Pitt County Memorial Hospital, accredited online master’s programs in nursing offer added flexibility.

Psychiatric Nurse Schools