Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan)

Scope of Practice


The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan)-Lifespan (PMHNP) is a Registered Nurse prepared at the master’s degree level as a nurse practitioner specializing in psychiatric-mental health care across the lifespan. You will practice in a variety of settings as an interdependent member of the health care team, collaborating with other health professionals to provide mental health care services across the lifespan. The PMHNP acquires advanced health assessment skills to perform screening history and physical exams as well as episodic exams, formulate initial physical diagnosis and refer when indicated for primary medical care. The PMHNP acquires advanced knowledge and clinical skills in psychiatric-mental health diagnosis and treatment which includes prescriptive practice of psychotropic medications; individual, group and family psychotherapy; crisis intervention; case management; and consultation.

The PMHNP is uniquely prepared to provide holistic care for clients, which bridges the common gap between physical and mental health care. A PMHNP practicing in a community mental health clinic, for example, is able to deliver targeted psychiatric care while screening, identifying and monitoring co-morbid medical problems such as hypertension or diabetes mellitus being treated by a primary medical care provider. It is often the PMHNP who has developed an ongoing relationship with a client with a severe mental illness that first identifies and differentiates underlying medical problems. The PMHNP is particularly effective in eliciting the client’s cooperation to seek further medical treatment and collaborates with the primary medical care provider in the client’s treatment.

In rural areas the PMHNP in collaboration with a community psychiatrist follows patients both in the clinic, office and on inpatient psychiatric units to provide continuity of care and reduce unnecessary psychiatric admissions. In areas where there is limited availability of psychiatrists, the PMHNP extends the availability of cost-effective mental health care. In large urban and/or teaching hospitals, the PMHNP functions on inpatient psychiatric units, or in the Emergency Room to provide 24 hour/day psychiatric assessment and treatment services. As a team member/leader of the Psychiatric Consultation Service.

Credentials and Certification

The PMHNP specialty prepares graduates to diagnose and treat common psychiatric disorders for patients across the lifespan. Graduates of the PMHNP specialty are eligible to sit for the American Nurses Association Credentialing Center (ANCC) Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Across the Lifespan)  Exam. Upon completion of the exam, the PMHNP is eligible for third party reimbursement and entitled to apply for prescriptive privileges as an advanced practice nurse according to state licensure laws. Visit:

Functions Performed by the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

In addition to general functions performed by the Advanced Practice Nurse, the PMHNP may provide these specific functions:

  • Diagnose and treat common acute psychiatric problems, illness, and crises
  • Psychopharmacologic management in collaboration with psychiatrist
  • Provide individual, group, and family psychotherapy
  • Care for and counsel clients with common identified chronic psychiatric conditions
  • Coordinate and integrate multidisciplinary services for clients with complex psychiatric problems
  • Monitor common health care problems and refer for specialized medical treatment as needed
  • Provide comprehensive family psychiatric-mental health education
  • Work with clients and their families in anticipation of developmental milestones, life cycle events
  • Perform or recommend age-appropriate screening procedures
  • Promote wellness oriented self-care
  • Advocate for family psychiatric-mental health clients and their families