Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

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Where Experience Becomes Expertise

Fairfield University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a clinically focused degree that prepares graduates to evaluate and apply existing evidence to improve practice outcomes. Taught as a cohort program, students are educated in the fundamental skills necessary to make a difference in healthcare: population-level healthcare, organizational systems, leadership, business management, clinical scholarship, information technology, and policy-making. With this knowledge, DNP Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner graduates are prepared for leadership roles as well as for advanced practice psychiatric nurse roles in a variety of settings.



Information Session

Come meet our deans and faculty to learn more about our graduate programs.

Message From The Associate Dean

Dear Prospective Student,

The decision to pursue a doctoral degree is an exciting step in your career. At Fairfield, we offer a rigorous program with a personalized approach to education. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Fairfield University allows you to select or build on a specialized clinical focus as a family or psychiatric nurse practitioner, and to investigate a practice concern that intrigues you.

In choosing to earn a DNP, you'll be on the cutting edge of the profession. In 2004 members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorsed the DNP as the preferred degree for APRN practice. The AACN membership expressed their commitment to moving the current level of preparation necessary for APRNs from the master's degree to the doctoral level by the year 2015. Why is this necessary?

A DNP education offers APRNs:

  • The ability to appraise and apply scientific evidence to improve practice
  • The capacity to use a cross-population perspective to assess, manage, and evaluate common problems
  • A terminal degree in an advanced clinical specialty practice
  • Parity with the educational preparation of advanced practitioners in other health professions

As a DNP student at Fairfield's Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, you'll be encouraged to achieve the highest level of advanced clinical nursing practice possible through course work, seminars, and tutorials as well as clinical experiences, immersion opportunities, and a scholarly DNP Project. As with all education at Fairfield, yours will be rigorous, experiential, and inspirational. You'll be expected to develop a broad and thorough understanding of the:

  • Scientific and ethical foundations of reflective practice
  • Environmental, social, economic, political, and regulatory forces that affect the delivery of quality healthcare and shape public debate
  • Translation of research into practice by designing and evaluating innovations in care to improve the health status of individuals, families, and populations

Feel free to explore the possibilities of a Doctor of Nursing Practice at Fairfield University on our website. Please contact me by e-mail or the Track Coordinator to clarify any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you about your educational and career goals soon.

Associate Dean for Graduate Studies

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Track Coordinator

Kathleen Wheeler, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Phone: (203) 254-4000, ext/ 2708

Career & Professional Opportunities

Two nurses work together on a medical machine.‌Upon completion of the Fairfield University DNP program, graduates will possess the following competencies:

  • Independently provide culturally sensitive and evidence-based care to individuals and populations in a defined area of advanced nursing practice.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking at the highest level of practice and accountability in the management of healthcare systems, considering ethical, legal, and socially just patient-centered care.
  • Translate research into practice through critique of existing evidence, evaluation of outcomes, and implementation of projects that contribute to the development of best practices.
  • Integrate science and theory from nursing and related disciplines within a reflective practice framework to inform clinical judgments, resolve dilemmas in healthcare, and serve as a patient care advocate.
  • Evaluate patient, population, and healthcare system outcomes using fiscal analysis and cost-effective strategies to achieve quality improvement.
  • Analyze the use of healthcare information systems and patient care technology to assure quality healthcare outcomes.
  • Lead collaborative interprofessional relationships and partnerships to transform healthcare delivery systems and improve health.
  • Assume a leadership role in the analysis, development, implementation, and evaluation of policies to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes at the local, regional, national, and international levels.

DNP graduates will be prepared to be practice leaders in a variety of roles, including:

  • Quality management executives in healthcare organizations
  • Advanced practice caregivers in acute, community, and long-term care settings
  • Directors of clinical programs
  • Faculty responsible for clinical program delivery and teaching

Course Offerings

Visit our online catalog for more information.

Foundation Core Courses

  • NS 601 Epidemiology and Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • NS 605 Advanced Healthcare Policy (3 credits)
  • NS 608 Research Methods for Evidence-Based Practice (3 credits)
  • NS 610 Advanced Nursing Roles and Reflective Practice (3 credits)

DNP Core Courses

  • NS 611 Population Health (3 credits)
  • NS 612 Research Translation for Clinical Practice (3 credits)
  • NS 613 Finance & Quality Management in Health Care Organizations (3 credits)
  • NS 614 Information Technology for Healthcare Improvement (3 credits)
  • NS 615 Leadership & Interprofessional Collaboration (3 credits)
  • NS 687 DNP Immersion * (1-5 credits)
  • NS 697 DNP Seminar I (1 credit)
  • NS 699 DNP Seminar II (1 credit)

Advanced Practice Core Courses

  • NS 604 Advanced Health Assessment (4 credits)
  • NS 640 Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology (3 credits)
  • NS 641 Advanced Pharmacology (3 credits)

Specialty Courses

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (29 credits)

  • NS 650 Psychopathology (3 credits)
  • NS 652 Mental Health Nursing of Individuals Across the Lifespan (3 credits)
  • NS 659 Foundational Clinical Skills for Advanced Psychiatric Nursing Practice (3 credits)
  • NS 661 Mental Health Nursing of Groups & Families Across the Lifespan (2 credits)
  • NS 663 Primary Mental Health Nursing of At-Risk Populations Across the Lifespan (2 credits)
  • NS 665 Mental Health Nursing of Children & Adolescents (2 credits)
  • NS 666 Practicum I/II/III: PMHNP (4 credits each)
  • NS 667 Psychopharmacology (2 credits)

* A total of 1,000 practicum/immersion hours are required for the DNP.


Admission Policy


Application Deadlines:
Family Nurse Practitioner - Rolling admission until July 1
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Across the Lifespan - Rolling admission until July 1
Nurse Midwifery Program - Rolling admission until August 1
Nurse Anesthesia Program - Rolling admission until August 1

There are 4 tracks available in the BSN-DNP program: Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwifery and Nurse Anesthesia. Admission procedures vary by program. Applications are reviewed by the Graduate Admission Committee.

BSN applicants for the DNP at Fairfield must hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher overall and in the nursing major. RN applicants who have a non-nursing bachelor's degree will be considered on an individual basis and may be required to complete select prerequisites to be eligible for admission to the DNP program; however, RN applicants who have a non-nursing bachelor's degree are not eligible for the Nurse Anesthesia track.

Admission Procedures

All DNP programs except Nurse Anesthesia

Students seeking admission must complete the following procedure. Submit:

  • A Completed application (apply now)
  • A Non-refundable $60 Application fee (paid online)
  • A Professional Resume. Applicants are required to submit a current resume that includes employment and educational history.
  • A Personal Statement
    • Discuss a practice problem in your field that, in your experience, has a broad impact on patient care outcomes.
    • State professional goals for the next 5-10 years.
    • Explain how a DNP degree will aid you in reaching your goals.
  • Official transcripts verifying completion of an undergraduate degree (BSN entry) and Master's degree (MSN entry). All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by an approved evaluating service.
  • Two Recommendation Forms and Letters, one of which must be from a current supervisor or professor who can assess one's clinical expertise and academic potential, accompanied by the University recommendation forms.
  • Copy of current RN License; licensure to practice in the state of Connecticut will be required upon admission.

International Students

Students from non-English speaking countries are required to submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score report. A TOEFL composite score of 550 for the paper test, 213 for the computer-based, or 80 on the Internet-based test (IBT) is strongly recommended for admission. Fairfield's ETS code is 3390.

Interview Process

Applicants who meet the above criteria will be invited in for an Admission interview.

For additional information, contact Office of Graduate Admission at Fairfield University, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield, CT 06824-5195; telephone: (203) 254-4184.

Measles and Rubella Immunization

Connecticut Law requires that students born after December 31, 1956 provide proof of immunization or titre for measles and rubella. This proof must be provided prior to course registration to the University Health Center.


At Fairfield, our dedicated faculty play a critical role in our student’s personal and moral development as healthcare providers. Meet the faculty and staff at The Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies.


Frequently Asked Questions

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a practice-focused doctorate comparable to advanced clinical degrees in other health disciplines such as Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), Doctor of Public Health (DrPH), and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). The degree represents the highest academic preparation for nursing practice, focusing on expanded scientific knowledge related to providing comprehensive direct care across all settings. Grounded in clinical practice, the DNP moves the focus of advanced practice nursing from the level of the individual patient to the population level by using a cross-population perspective to assess, manage, and evaluate common problems.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), safe nursing practice in today's increasingly complex health care system requires improved translation of scientific evidence into practice. With a DNP, you'll be able to assume a leadership role in an increasingly complex healthcare system during this critical era of healthcare reform.

The future of nursing rides on the DNP, and the shift in the industry is occurring right now. Members of AACN voted in 2004 to support advanced practice nursing at the doctoral level. This means that the DNP is the preferred degree for students wishing to be a nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), nurse midwife (CNM), or nurse anesthetist (CRNA); it will soon be required in some areas of advanced practice such as nurse anesthesia. For more information on the DNP, visit AACN.

The DNP is the preferred degree for advanced practice nursing (AACN, 2004). While programs are still available at the master's level, the DNP is expected to become the standard in the nursing practice.

The primary difference between the two is that a PhD is research-focused and the DNP is practice-focused. The PhD is specifically designed to teach students how to conduct original investigation that advances the knowledge of a discipline. In contrast, a DNP is comparable to clinical doctorates in other health disciplines such as pharmacy, physical therapy, and medicine. DNP students focus on advanced practice areas of specialization, acquiring a population perspective in addressing common patient problems within a specialty. DNP students complete a DNP Project that applies existing knowledge to address a clinical problem. The DNP Project results in a publishable paper that demonstrates the effectiveness of a clinical innovation on patient outcomes.

Fairfield University offers:

  • Personalized attention & strong faculty-student mentorship opportunities
  • A rigorous, experiential, and inspirational academic experience
  • A reputation for graduating highly skilled nurse practitioners
  • Stellar on-site technological resources
  • A state-of-the-art simulation laboratory
  • Exceptional media resources available onsite and remotely
  • In keeping with our Jesuit mission, an emphasis on the ethical, legal, and socially-just implications of patient-centered care

We accept applications for family or psychiatric nurse practitioner specialties and nurse anesthetists.

The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties is responsible for developing the nurse practitioner competencies. This is true for both MSN and DNP preparation.

Upon completing the program at Fairfield University, a certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner can work with clients across the lifespan and in all clinical settings including acute care, community clinic, Federally Qualified Health Centers, corrections facilities, academic health centers, and private practice.

Students can transfer up to 6 core credits if the courses are similar. Evaluation of transfer credits are approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

BSNs who pursue the DNP on a full-time basis will take 3 years; 4 years if they do so part-time. The approximate cost is $70-75,000 for the program, depending on the tuition rate per credit which could change slightly over the course of those years.

Yes, many of our students attend school part-time while working full-time; we have both full-time and part-time curricular plans available.

View the Fairfield's Egan School of Nursing graduate admission requirements.

The GRE exam is not required for the Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Anesthesia Tracks; however, for BSN applicants that have earned a GPA below 3.0., or MSN applicants that have earned a GPA below 3.2, GRE scores may strengthen your application by demonstrating your ability to achieve the academic standards required at the doctoral level.

The Egan School has developed a special program allowing certified Family Nurse Practitioners to complete all required didactic and clinical coursework as well as DNP coursework as full-time students in 2 years and as part-time students in 3 years.

Call or email Dr. Kate Wheeler, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2708 for more information.

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