RNs in Psych Practice: DU's Nurse Grad Certificate is part of Distance Learning Program

Post MSN Certificates Give Career-Oriented RNs the Boost They Need

Psychiatric and Mental Health advanced practice nurses provide a highly specialized type of patient care, in settings typically outside the four-walls of a traditional hospital. Individuals in these roles have challenges that go beyond those of staff nurses and many are required to pursue degrees well beyond their Associates and even Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Duquesne University has expanded its reputable and traditional nursing school to include a number of online nursing programs, among them seven ultra-specialized post-grad certificates. The Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse certificate, as well as the six others, serves as a capstone for an advanced practice nurse. DU's programs attract nurses seeking more targeted and high-end training, as well as professional autonomy.


Candidates for the post-grad program must have a valid RN license and be able to prove a completed Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN). Psychiatric/Mental Health nurses should also have zest for working with this patient population; this includes an uncommon talent for communication and the ability to assist patients and families in understanding and managing particular mental health disorders and conditions.

DU's curriculum management system is designed to engage students in synchronous and asynchronous learning. Online students have the convenience of scheduling their own time to work on their assignments, independently of the formal program parameters, but in a few cases, assignments require real-time participation in a virtual classroom environment, in which students and faculty interact on certain topics.


The coursework for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse certificate emphasizes the psychotherapy aspect so commonly undercut in general MSN programs. There are also advanced courses on psychopharmacology and patient assessment. Specific psychotherapy courses further emphasize family and group therapies, as well as use of effective intervention techniques.

This is a 21-credit program, one of the more demanding within this group of graduate level specialties. Graduates are prepared, upon successful completion of the coursework, to take the required professional credentialing exams that may certify them within the specialty.

Career Opportunities

The nursing skills required of advanced practice mental health nurses are distinctly different from those of even their BSN cohorts: graduate level nurses in the field are no longer simply playing a supporting role in mental health patient care-they are instead responsible for direct interaction, educated analysis, evaluation, and for effecting positive intervention techniques. Patient care settings may be hospitals, private mental health and substance abuse facilities, public and community health settings, outpatient clinics, and long term care facilities. Patient types cut across all age ranges, with disorders that range from schizophrenia, to bulimia and depression.


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