MS in Nursing Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Across the Lifespan

Let Your Future Add up to Something More

Fairfield University's Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program prepares students to assess, diagnose, and provide primary mental health care for people of all ages from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups who are suffering from psychiatric disorders and mental health problems. Individual, group, and family therapy, as well as medication management are important components of the curriculum. Graduates of our program work in a wide variety of settings, including private practice, home care, emergency rooms, integrated behavioral clinics, extended care facilities, residential treatment centers, and community mental health centers. Fall term entry only.

 

 



Message from the Track Coordinator

Dear Prospective Student,

If you are reading this letter, you have at least a casual interest in mental health, and you are most likely aware of the enormous impact of mental illness on society. You may also be aware of the challenges to accessing quality mental health services and the national goal to improve mental health services outlined in Healthy People 2020.

Psychiatric nurse practitioners are uniquely prepared to improve mental health services. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you'll be able to assess, diagnose, and treat people who have, or have the potential to have, acute and chronic mental health disorders. You'll be able to do so in a holistic fashion, offering a full range of services.

As a graduate of Fairfield's Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program, I myself have experienced the journey you are considering. Based on my experiences, both as a former student and as a current faculty member, there are several unique characteristics about the program that I would like to share with you:

  • The first is the emphasis on holistic care, a fundamental part of my education. A recent conversation with a student indicated that a holistic approach to patients is still emphasized. This student, who has more than 20 years experience in psychiatric nursing, shared her perspective:
    "The most important thing for me about this past year is that I really learned to think outside of a medical model, to view the patient holistically. That shift has completely changed my practice."
  • The second is the importance of the values and ideals of a traditional Jesuit education. In keeping with these values and ideals, Fairfield's program prepares students to work in a variety of settings, with a diverse client population. While based in Jesuit values, the program is fully up-to-date and incorporates the latest theoretical frameworks, as well as innovations in psychiatric assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • The third characteristic is the quality and depth of the faculty's experience, both clinically and academically. The faculty has rich clinical expertise as advanced practice nurses, as well as impressive research and publication records and numerous funded projects. At the same time, they are available to meet with students outside of class to foster their academic and clinical growth, and students come to expect a personal relationship with their faculty mentors.

The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program is an academically rigorous and personally focused program that will contribute significantly to your personal development, your career success, and the contribution you can make to the mental health community. Please follow the links to the right to further explore the possibilities of advanced study in psychiatric mental health nursing at Fairfield University, and e-mail me directly if you have any questions.

Kathleen Wheeler, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Professor and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Track Coordinator

Career & Professional Opportunities

In Fairfield's Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program, you'll develop skills to provide care for adults from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups in a wide variety of settings: in-patient, community-based, and private practice. You'll learn to care for patients with a variety of mental disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and thought disorders. You'll also have the opportunity to develop expertise in caring for special populations, such as substance abuse, elderly, or forensic mental health. Skills you'll develop include:

  • Psychiatric assessment and diagnosis
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Family and group work
  • Medication management
  • Application of research findings for evidence-based practice
  • Professional and academic writing
  • Public speaking/oral presentation

As a graduate, you'll be prepared to work as clinical faculty in undergraduate nursing programs. After one year of practice, you'll be prepared to serve as a preceptor for graduate students in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs. Settings that have traditionally sought out Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners include:

  • In-patient psychiatric units
  • Emergency departments
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Home care agencies
  • Out-patient behavioral health clinics
  • Correctional facilities
  • K-12 schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Staff development departments

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners frequently combine positions in one or more of the above settings with a private practice. As a graduate of Fairfield's program you'll be prepared to choose from a variety of private practice options, including psychotherapy, medication management, or a combination of treatment modalities. Many of our graduates work in multidisciplinary practices with psychologists, social workers, and licensed counselors.

Learn more about how the University's Academic and Career Development Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

Course Offerings

See Graduate Nursing course descriptions for more information.

First Year

Fall Semester (7 credits)

  • NS 521 Advanced Nursing Leadership for Systems Improvement (4 credits)
  • NS 640 Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology (3 credits)

Spring Semester (7 credits)

  • NS 604 Advanced Health Assessment (4 credits)
  • NS 641 Advanced Pharmacology, Prereq: NS 640 (3 credits)

Summer Semester (6 credits)

  • NS 605 Advanced Healthcare Policy (3 credits)
  • NS 614 Information Technology for Healthcare Improvement (3 credits)

Second Year

Fall Semester (8 credits)

  • NS 608 Research Methods for Evidence-Based Practice (3 credits)
  • NS 650 Psychopathology (3 credits)
  • NS 665 Mental Health Nursing of Children & Adolescents (2 credits)

Spring Semester (9 credits)

  • NS 601 Epidemiology and Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • NS 652 Mental Health Nursing of Individuals Across the Lifespan (3 credits)
  • NS 659 Foundational Clinical Skills for Advanced Psychiatric Nursing Practice, prereq: NS 650 (3 credits)

Summer Term (6 credits)

  • NS 666 Practicum I: PMHNP (4 credits)
  • NS 667 Psychopharmacology (2 credits)

Third Year

Fall Semester (6 credits)

  • NS 661 Mental Health Nursing of Groups & Families Across the Lifespan (2 credits)
  • NS 666 Practicum II: PMHNP (4 credits)

Spring Semester (6 credits)

  • NS 663 Primary Mental Health Nursing of At-Risk Populations Across the Lifespan (2 credits)
  • NS 666 Practicum III: PMHNP (4 credits)

Total Credits: 55

Faculty

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.

 

 

 

Admission Requirements

Applicants for the MS in Nursing, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program must hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) with a quality point average of 3.0 or higher preferred. 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 MSN program.

Formal Admission Process

Applications are reviewed by the Graduate Admission Committee. Students seeking admission must submit:

  • A Completed application (Apply Online)
  • A Non-refundable $60 application fee made payable to Fairfield University (paid by credit card if applying online).
  • A Professional Resume. Applicants are required to submit a current resume that includes employment and education history.
  • An Admission Essay:
    • 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 the degree you are seeking will aid you in reaching your goals
  • Official transcripts verifying completion of an undergraduate degree. (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.
  • Copy of current RN License to practice in the state of Connecticut.

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 79-80 on the Internet-based test (IBT) is strongly recommended for admission. Fairfield's ETS code is 3390.

All application materials should be sent to:

Office of Graduate Admission
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824-5195
Phone: (203) 254-4184
Fax: (203) 254-4073
gradadmis@fairfield.edu

How to Apply

For detailed admission requirements, please refer to the links below:

Admission Deadline

Family Nurse Practitioner: Rolling until April 1
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: Rolling until July 1
Nursing Leadership: Rolling until July 1


Financial Aid

To be considered for financial aid, Fairfield University requires students to complete a FAFSA form. For further information, visit the Office of Financial Aid.

Frequently Asked Questions

To become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, do I have to obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree or will a Masters’ degree allow me to be eligible for certification as a nurse practitioner?

Individuals can complete either a DNP or a Masters’ program in their chosen area of specialty in order to become certified as a nurse practitioner. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners apply for board certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC); visit their website for more information on the requirements for certification.

Who develops the specific competencies for nurse practitioners graduate education?

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

Where can a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner work and with what ages of patients?

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.

Can I transfer graduate credits? If so, how many?

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

If I am already a FNP, how can I become certified as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

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 two years and as part-time students in three years.

Who can I call if I have more questions about the Masters in Nursing for Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners program?

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

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