Frequently Asked Questions

A psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who received training through graduated level education. The PMHNP is trained to provide a wide range of mental health services to patients and families in a variety of settings. Most psychiatric nurse practitioners are board-certified. Board certification means that the individual has passed a certification exam that tests for competency and a thorough understanding of psychiatry and psychiatric care.

The education and training of the two are somewhat different. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry. Their focus has been primarily on the disease and illness and based on the medical model. In nursing education, health is stressed rather than illness.

Both treat a variety of mental health conditions, but in different ways. While PMHNP often use a mix of therapy and medication, psychologists primarily use psychotherapy techniques to address abnormal human behaviors. Few psychologists are able to prescribe and manage medications to treat mental health illnesses.

Everything that has an impact on someone such as a person’s living environment, relationships (or lack of relationships), health habits, genetic history, family influences, financial status, and job-related and personal stresses are all taken into consideration when an evaluation or assessment is done. All of these factors contribute to a person’s well-being or lack of well-being and is important to the nurse practitioner.