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For information about the field, see Psychiatric and mental health nursing.

A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MHNP), also known as Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, work in primary care facilities, outpatient mental health clinics, as well as in hospitals and community health centers. MHNP evaluate and provide care for patients who have anything from psychiatric disorders, medical mental conditions to substance abuse problems. They are licensed to provide emergency psychiatric services, psychosocial and physical assessment of their patients, treatment plans, and continually manage their care. They may also serve as consultants or as educators for families and staff; however, the MHNP has a greater focus on psychiatric diagnosis, including the differential diagnosis of medical disorders with psychiatric symptoms, and on medication treatment for psychiatric disorders.[1]


In order to become a nurse practitioner you must obtain at least six years of college education. You must first obtain a four-year college degree, although usually in nursing, there are some programs called Masters Entry Level Nursing programs designed around individuals with a Bachelors degree outside of nursing. Once the individual obtains their BSN, they must take the NCLEX-RN, the test for licensure as a registered nurse.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Once an individual has obtained the status of a registered nurse, the candidate must complete a state-approved Masters Degree advanced nursing education program which includes at least 600 clinical hours. Individuals who choose a Masters Entry Level pathway will spend an extra year at the start of the program taking classes necessary to pass the NCLEX-RN. Some schools will issue a BSN; others will issue a certificate. The student then continues with the normal MSN program.

There are many schools that offer the education required for this profession.[2] The cost of education can vary greatly. Some things that contribute to the varying costs are: Public vs. Private school; traditional vs. Masters entry level; and in State vs. out-of-state tuiton. For example, at UCSF the cost for the Masters program with in state tuition is approxmately $12,245.00 a year. For an out-of-state student the tuition is $24,798.00. The masters entry-level program is even more expensive at $27,000.00 a year.[3]

As expensive as the education for a MHNP may sound, it can eventually pay off. The average salary in the United States is $75,711 per year. However, it varies between states and cities. On the west coast, the average is much greater. The average nurse practitioner salary in Fresno is $82,963; in Los Angeles is $84,837; and in Phoenix is $86,539.[4] There is a wide variety of pay throughout the country. In addition to the base salary there can also be a wealth of benefits. Many Nurse practitioners will receive excellent health and retirement benefits. Another benefit often provided to Nurse practitioners is Mal-practice insurance, which can cost upwards of thousands of dollars a year.

A MHNP can practice in a wide variety of settings with a decent amount of freedom. A MHNP may even own their own practice in at least 20 states in the United States.

See also[]


  1. American College of Nurse Practitioners. (Unknown last update). What is a Nurse Practitioner? Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
  2. The State of California. (2007, January 22). California Board of Registered Nursing Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
  3. University of California, San Francisco. (2007, February 6). MS Specialty: Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nursing - UCSF School of Nursing Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
  4. ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners. (Unknown Last Update). 2005 Salary Survey Results: A Place at the Table Retrieved February 9, 2007, from
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