Otterbein’s First Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Students Reach Clinicals

Posted Jul 22, 2021

Otterbein University’s first cohort of students in the Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program are undertaking their clinical work during the Summer 2021 semester. This is an important milestone for the relatively new major. 

“I have been so impressed with the Otterbein PMHNP program, leadership, and support provided by all of the instructors and professors,” said PMHNP student Teresa Jordan. “Even among our newer degree program, we have developed academic and professional bonds that will last for the rest of our lives.” 

The PMHNP program prepares nursing students to expand their scope of practice to include psychiatric and mental health practices across the healthcare field. The coursework prepares the student to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center national credential exam to become a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner. 

The first group of students admitted to the program in 2019 have now reached their clinical coursework, comprised of courses in wellness, therapy, and diagnosis and management of mental illness across the lifespan in out-patient and in-patient settings. These courses are precepted by a practicing mental health professional in the community, arranged by the student with assistance from faculty and staff. 

“The job market for mental health providers is expanding, and we would not offer this program if we didn’t anticipate being successful,” said John Chovan, director of the Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program. 

The need for mental health practitioners in the nursing field has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented mental health crisis, impacting millions of American citizens and healthcare professionals by isolation, job loss, financial strain, work stress, and grief over lost loved ones. According to the online professional journal, the pandemic exposed gaps in the current healthcare system that contributed to the creation of a mental health emergency. PMHNPs filled vital roles through an expanded scope of practice, telehealth services for patient counseling, and consulting services to schools and medical practices. 

“We know we’re doing something right here, and we will continue to build on that tradition in educating our students through this new program,” said Chovan. “Whatever educational pathway you have, we want to help you get where you need to be, no matter your experiences or background.” 

Even with the PMHNP program being a newer offering from Otterbein Department of Nursing, these students are making significant strides towards serving the common good in a much-needed nursing field. Once they have entered the profession full-time, their true impact facilitated by their Otterbein education will be felt. 

“The Otterbein core value of service, social responsibility, civic engagement, and meaningful service to our communities, is very close to my heart. I feel the Otterbein PMHNP program has truly accomplished living up to these expectations. We’re able to make a difference because of what our program and professors have taught us,” Jordan said.