Louisiana university restores psychiatric nursing master’s

March 5, 2022 GMT

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is now offering a graduate nursing concentration in psychiatric mental health, starting in fall 2022.

Licensed registered nurses can apply for a master’s program that will qualify them to take a national certification exam, the university’s College of Nursing & Health Sciences said in a news release.

A number of other universities in the state, including LSU Health, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana, and Northwestern State, have nursing programs in psychiatric mental health, according to their web pages.

“UL Lafayette is positioned within a state and a region with some of the highest healthcare provider shortage areas in the country. Addressing these shortages to improve the health and wellbeing of Louisiana is core to our mission as a college,” Dean Melinda Oberleitner said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 7,000 practitioners are needed nationwide to meet communities’ needs for psychiatric mental health care.

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The last time Louisiana-Lafayette offered the psychiatric mental health nursing program was 2013. It was suspended because the demand for such nurses was so great that many kept working in the field rather than getting the doctorate needed to teach at a university, school spokesman Eric Maron said.

The college’s other master’s degrees in nursing offer concentrations as family nurse practitioner and nursing education.

The restored concentration will prepare nurses to assess, diagnose, and develop treatment plans for patients, from childhood through adulthood, the university said.

They will be able to provide treatment -– including therapy or medication -– through telehealth, hospitals, treatment centers, or their own clinics.

The 48-credit-hour program includes online coursework and requires at least 600 hours of supervised direct patient care.

The program will be taught by assistant professor Abby McNeil, who is certified both as a family nurse practitioner and as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner

“It’s so important that we educate and get trained psych mental health nurse practitioners into the field so that we can see more patients because access just isn’t there the way it should be,” McNeil said.