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WGU North Carolina Announces New Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program

New degree to address the nation’s critical shortage of mental health providers

Mar 15, 2022

DURHAM, N.C. — 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, WGU North Carolina – an affiliate of online nonprofit Western Governors University – has announced the launch of a Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) degree.   

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, only 2.9 percent of the 192,000 credentialed nurse practitioners in the United States work in the psychiatric/mental health specialty area. However,  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 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.”   

The new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree is now available to students in North Carolina, as well as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

WGU’s College of Health Professions is one of the nation’s largest schools of nursing, currently educating more than 26,000 students in bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. WGU has nearly 6,000 graduates in North Carolina, including more than 2,200 from the College of Health Professions.

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