UC Schools Address Mental Health Provider Shortage


To address the growing shortage of mental health professionals, the UCSF School of Nursing, in collaboration with the UC Davis and UCLA Schools of Nursing, has launched new remote-access training that will prepare 300 psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) over five years.

The first remote-learning, post-master’s certificate of its kind in California, this training program is being launched at a time when a shortfall in mental health providers has become widespread across the country and in California.

The National Council for Behavioral Health reports that 77 percent of counties across the country have severe shortages of behavioral health professions. More than half of all Californians (52 percent) say their community does not have enough mental health providers to meet its needs, according to a 2019 poll. For instance, many communities in the San Joaquin Valley and Inland Empire have only half as many psychiatrists as other parts of the state.

The Multi-Campus PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate training is a 12-month hybrid that combines remote-access education with three in-person sessions and regional clinical training across California. Students can stay in their communities to complete their training.

The program aims to expand the PMHNP workforce in California to fill a critical gap in the state’s mental health system, particularly in underserved areas. It aims to admit students who are dedicated to serving these populations in California. All applicants must be licensed in California. If admitted into the program, students must complete required clinical rotations that are arranged with regional partners within the state.

Upon completion of this training, students will sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center national certification to become a PMHNP.

The Multi-Campus PMHNP Post-Master’s Certificate curriculum is competency based and aligned with the National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) core and population specific competencies which include: scientific foundations, leadership, quality, practice inquiry, technology and information literacy, policy, health delivery system and ethics. The curriculum is built upon a framework which supports trainee knowledge, skills, and attitude for development of the PMHNP role. This is supported through didactic content and a workplace-based clinical internship.

The curricular framework and descriptions are:

  • PMHNP role development: To build excellence in practice as a PMHNP
  • Interprofessional collaboration: To support communication and collaboration across professions
  • Structural competency: To create healthcare citizens who understand the effect of social inequity, racism and limited access to mental health care on individuals and communities
  • Self-reflective practice: To gain awareness of self, other and situation in the context of professional identity and role development


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