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February 24, 2022

WGU’s College of Health Professions Launches Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

The new competency-based degree will be offered online in 39 states to address the nation’s critical shortage in mental health providers.

SALT LAKE CITY — As nearly one in five U.S. adults suffer from mental, behavioral or emotional disorders, the demand for effective mental healthcare is outpacing the availability of qualified mental healthcare providers across the country. To address this issue, the College of Health Professions at Western Governors University (WGU)today announced the launch of a Master’s of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Degree.   

“The ongoing mental health crisis in the nation, coupled with the stress from the pandemic, has overwhelmed qualified mental health providers who were already in short supply,” said Jan Jones-Schenk, executive dean and senior vice president of WGU’s College of Health Professions. “Rightfully, the role of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners is expanding as greater access to mental healthcare is created, and the stigma of seeking that care subsides. We are creating new pathways for nurses to advance their careers into this exciting area of clinical practice and meet a tremendous need in our nation.”   

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, only 2.9 percent of the 192,000 credentialed nurse practitioners in the U.S. work in the psychiatric/mental health specialty area. But studies have shown that up to 96 percent of counties in the U.S. have unmet needs for mental health professions, with the most pronounced shortage being in rural areas.

The new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree is now available to students in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.


About WGU’s College of Health Professions

The College of Health Professions at WGU is one of the nation’s largest schools of nursing, currently educating more than 26,000 bachelor’s- and master’s-level nursing and healthcare students. In 2020-21, more than 17% of all Bachelor’s of Science, Nursing graduates in the United States were educated by WGU’s College of Health Professions.

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