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Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner FAQ
About Rush University
Admissions Information
Career Opportunities
Clinical Practicum Information 
Online Learning Information
Tuition and Financial Aid 
More Questions 
Admissions Information
The PMHNP degree program admits once a year using a pooled review process. See the Quick Links box on the program information page for specific PMHNP program admission
Rush University College of Nursing was one of the first colleges in the nation to award the practice doctorate (1990). The changing demands of the nation's complex health care environment require that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise possible. The BSN/MSN - DNP with specialty certification curriculum builds on traditional clinical master's programs by providing additional education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, systems leadership and other content areas that will lead to improved clinical outcomes in complex systems. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) recommend that schools of nursing prepare those entering advanced practice at the highest practice degree, the Doctor of Nursing Practice. 
1) RN licensure in the state in which you practice;
2) BSN or MSN Degree  
3) GRE (please see waiver policy, directly below, to see if you meet the policy requirements).
4) Experience in Psychiatric Mental Health nursing is strongly encouraged.  
The GRE is waived if any one of the following conditions is met:
1. Cumulative GPA of 3.25 or greater 
2. Pre-licensure nursing GPA of 3.0 or greater.
3. Graduate GPA (of a completed degree) of 3.5 or greater.
Rush will receive verified GPA calculations from NursingCAS only after they have received all of your official transcripts. If you believe you will need to submit GRE scores, we suggest you prepare for the exam and take it sooner rather than later as we cannot review your application until official GRE scores have been received. These scores must be received by Rush University before the application deadline. Your scores will be sent to the institutions you designate within 10 to 15 days after your test date. The Rush University College of Nursing GRE code is 3262.  
If you have taken the GRE within the last five years Educational Testing Service (ETS) will send a copy of your scores directly to Rush. If you have taken the GRE more than five years ago and have the original score report, you may submit a copy directly to Rush. The College of Nursing will also accept GRE scores from any point in time, as long as an official report of the score can be obtained. The College of Nursing will also accept an official school document that contains GRE scores. 
Applicants must have a minimum of six months nursing experience by the application deadline.  We highly recommend that you either already work in a clinical psychiatric setting or plan to begin working in one when you start the program.
No currently the post-graduate PMHNP certificate program is not being offered.
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required for applicants who are non-native speakers of English. This requirement may be waived if the applicant has completed a minimum of three years of higher education AND received their baccalaureate degree in the United States. Foreign transcripts must have a course-by-course  review by ECE, WES or COGFNS translation services. 
Three professional letters of recommendation are required from faculty and/or work supervisors with at least one letter from a current or recent employer. Relationship of recommenders to you must be in a supervisory capacity who can evaluate your ability to be successful in graduate school and as an APRN.  Co-workers, colleagues, subordinates or friends are not acceptable recommenders.
Your application will be submitted through a centralized application system called NursingCAS. All application materials (e.g., transcripts, personal statement, CV, recommendations, etc.) will be submitted to NursingCAS.  Upon submission to NursingCAS, you will be asked to complete a brief Rush Supplemental Application.   Once your application is complete and verified through NursingCAS, it will be evaluated by program faculty. Qualified applicants will be invited  to interview with a faculty member. We strongly encourage candidates to interview in person with faculty. Plan to be on campus for about one hour. However, if you live more than 50 miles away, you may choose to interview by phone. We will use the email address you provide for all contact regarding your application status.
After all qualified applicants are interviewed your application will be reviewed by program faculty. Admission recommendations are then forwarded to the Admissions and Progressions Committee of the College of Nursing. It is their charge to offer admission to qualified candidates.  
Career Opportunities
Job opportunities are extensive with not enough PNHMP graduates to fill the available positions. We regularly send news of job opportunities to our clinical students and alumni, in addition to posting them on the college’s LinkedIn group that is accessible to current students and alumni. 
After successfully graduating from our program you may sit for national certification as a PMHNP –lifespan through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).  
The PMHNP certification has been accepted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. 
Whether you live in Illinois or elsewhere it is a good idea to know your state nurse practice act. The website at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is one place to obtain information about guidelines for doing practicum when attending an out of state university as well as your state’s nurse practice act which delineates what you need to do to get licensed
The PMHNP program of study prepares the student to sit for the national certification examination. Most of our students take a review course. Preparation for certification exams increases confidence and the likelihood of success. We highly recommend that you prepare for the exam by taking a certification review course. Some students choose to do their own preparation using certification review books or their course texts. Graduates of the Rush PMHNP program have an exceptional first time pass rate on the national examination.
Most students complete their coursework during the summer term and apply for certification at that time. Transcripts will not be prepared and sent out to the certification company until after the end of the term. Note you will need to request a transcript be sent to the ANCC. This usually occurs by mid September. When the certification company receives all the required information the applicant is contacted and a testing date is determined. Results of the exam are usually available by mid-October. 
Clinical Practicum Information 
You need to obtain a minimum of 500 clinical hours to sit for the ANCC PMHNP certification exam. Our program currently offers 620 clinical hours including online clinical supervision with Rush Faculty. The DNP will offer a total of 1,000 clinical hours including the completion of a DNP capstone project. We work with PMNCNS students to determine what clinical hours can be transferred in.
No. While we can’t count your experience toward college credit, we do consider your background when setting up your clinical practicum. Less clinical practicum time will be needed in areas where you are already competent, allowing you to spend more time on skills that you haven’t used as much in previous practice. In other words, your clinical time can be tailored to your specific needs.
A Rush faculty member will assist you in identifying an appropriate preceptor and clinical placement as close to your home as possible. We do this by identifying a qualified clinician who is willing to precept you. If you know of someone with whom you would like to work, we will investigate their appropriateness and availability.
Preceptors must be certified and practicing as advanced practice nurses in psychiatric mental health nursing. In the absence of an appropriate advanced practice nurse, we will negotiate with a psychiatrist to be your preceptor. You can only have one preceptor at a time. However, your designated supervisor can oversee experiences with other clinicians that s/he deems are qualified to supervise you in completing some of the competencies that you will need. The designated preceptor rates your clinical performance twice a term, at midterm and final.
If you know of someone with whom you would like to work, we will investigate their appropriateness and availability. If you do not know of anyone, we will attempt to identify someone for you. We make all contractual arrangements with preceptors and clinical sites.
No. All clinical experiences must be on U.S. soil. However, this does include overseas army and naval bases. 
We do not allow students earning a degree to do their practicum or residency on the unit where they work. However, you can do your clinical and residency at your place of employment on a different unit as long as you receives adequate supervision for the role in which you are preparing.  
Rush offers the PMH NP certification as part of a DNP. Application deadlines and program start dates appear in the Program Information Quick Links box.
The DNP program will be 3.5  years part-time or three years full-time. The full-time option may not available to distance students.
Students start their specialty coursework with NRS 535A, the psychiatric assessment course the term prior to the last year. The physical assessment course is taught this same term. There is a brief campus visit with these courses. The specialty management coursework continues through the last full year of the program. All PMHNP students take NRS 535B, and 535C, Management II and III. These courses are offered in an online format with the clinical practicum and residency. An online clinical supervision course is built in as part of the clinical practicum. During the final summer term students present their capstone project. This may be done online or on campus. Students are expected to attend all of their classmates’ presentations.
Hotel stays are required during the campus visits. The university is located just outside the downtown area on a major expressway. It is also conveniently located near mass transit lines from both O’Hare International and Midway airports. Traveling in this manner takes approximately one hour from either airport. Most students arrange to share accommodations, and we can advise you on nearby hotels.
Full time options are available for the PMH NP program.
Probably not, unless you are transferring in at least three courses. Plan on taking two courses a term in a part-time program and three to four courses a term in the full-time program.  
Yes. You can take up to 12 credits of classes as a student-at-large. There are some restrictions. Some employers will not provide tuition reimbursement. Taking classes as a student-at-large does not guarantee you admission. 
That depends. Most students do work and find full- or part-time work manageable with our part-time program.  Most students find that it is difficult to work full-time especially once they start the clinical practicum which is two days a week during the entire last year. The last year of the program must be taken as full time. Every student must evaluate their own time management skills, personal commitments and family responsibilities before deciding if the time is right to pursue a graduate education. Discussion of your work and time commitments is a part of the interview process.
You will get coursework and supervised practice in individual and group therapy with your chosen population.        
We are not offering this transition at this time. 
In this instance your program of study would be tailored to your particular CNS curriculum. Since your group and individual therapy materials were geared toward children, you will need to take the entire management series (535a, 535b, and 535c). Please see the response above for additional classes PMH CNS may need to compete to sit for the ANCC PMH NP certification exam and licensure.
In keeping with its goal of promoting diversity through its equal opportunity and affirmative action programs, Rush University is committed to attracting students who will enable the student body to achieve the educational benefits of diversity, and to provide services to all students, faculty and other employees on a nondiscriminatory, equitable basis. Discrimination or harassment against any member of the Rush University Medical Center community because of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status or parental status, disability as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, or any other category protected by federal or state law is prohibited and will not be tolerated, nor will any person for those reasons be excluded from participation or denied the benefits of any program or activity within Rush University. Paula J. Brown, manager, diversity, inclusion, community employment liaison, has been designated to oversee this program. Paula Brown can be contacted by email at
Online Learning Information 
Yes, our psychiatric mental health NP programs are entirely online. The Health Assessment and Mental Health Assessment courses each have a required trip to campus for one or two days each, which are usually scheduled together during the term before your yearlong clinical practicum begins.
Some of the courses in our graduate nursing core and advanced practice nursing core are offered in several formats (online, in class, and compressed). Compressed courses are guided online but include an extended visit to campus (usually over a weekend). You may work with your advisor to meet your needs in this area.
You need to understand what ANCC requires for certification as well as what your state requires for licensure. You should contact your state nursing association and Board of Higher Education to inquire about state licensing requirements. Please click here for the list of state nursing associations. ANCC credentialing requirements can be found by clicking this link.
No. Almost everything is asynchronous, which means you can log on any time day or night. You should be aware that some exams must be taken online as scheduled so watch for those schedules.
The online courses work in much the same structure as in-class courses. You register for a term and follow the pace set by the instructor and structure of the course. In lieu of in-person lectures, faculty provides instructor notes and activities that are designed to guide the student through and deepen their understanding of the material. As with traditional formats, there are assigned readings. Most courses also include asynchronous chat sessions that allow students to post questions and responses to each other and to the instructors. Some activities include a guided interactive component, similar to classroom discussions. If a class has exams as part of its evaluation mechanism, those exams are taken online.
You need computer skills. If you currently browse the Internet, shop online, use a word processing program and have some familiarity with PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel you will be fine.
Tuition and Financial Aid 
Current tuition can be found on our website
There may be loans or financial aid available for students in degree programs who take a half-time program of study. You may explore these issues on our financial aid website.  
Graduates often fear the debt load that comes with graduate education. Occasionally, employers provide loan repayment (full or partial) as part of employment packages. There is also a government loan repayment program available. Please check with our financial aid office on these issues.
International Students
As many courses are taught in an online format in our DNP programs, we regret we are unable to accommodate international students in the US on a student visa.  Applicants who intend to complete a program in their country of origin will be reviewed on an individual basis, please contact Rush University College of Nursing at before applying.
More Questions 
Please email our admissions specialist, Jennifer Thorndyke at
1. The application for transfer procedure must be completed when an enrolled student wishes to change their program concentration and/or degree. The transfer must be approved; there is no guarantee of movement from one program to another.
2. The Program Director in the proposed concentration/degree determines the necessary requirements for the review process.
3. The Registrar processes changes at the end of each term.
4. The change is official as of the start of the new term if student accepted into the proposed major/concentration.
5. If permission is granted and as space permits, students will only be allowed to transfer to an already matriculating cohort of students.
You may apply for:
1) any advanced practice specialty MSN-DNP program that is different from your first specialty area or
2) one of the DNP leadership tracks, either Systems Leadership or Leadership to Enhance Population Health Outcomes. 

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