Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New program to produce psychiatric mental health nurses

MU school of nursing responds to the nation's lack of psychiatric nurses.

One-fifth of the nation's children have mental disorders, but only one-third of that percentage receive professional mental healthcare, according to The Child Health Care Crisis Relief Act.

As reported by the Bureau of Health Professions in March of 2004, only 5 percent of advance-practiced nurses were nationally certified in psychiatric mental health nursing. In Missouri, there are 27.

In response to this, the Sinclair School of Nursing is offering a post-master's certificate in child and family mental healthcare, supported by a $370,000 grant awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The program will launch in the 2009 spring semester.

"The goal of this program is to provide children with more complete care by increasing the number of family and child mental health nurses in Missouri and the United States," clinical nursing professor Jane Bostick said in an e-mail. "Many families rely on primary care physicians, school counselors and teachers to provide mental health services for their children, and children living in rural communities are especially vulnerable due to the shortage of healthcare providers."

MU nursing students agree with the need to supply mental health nurses to fill the limited field.

"I don't believe many people go into the psychiatric field of nursing because of how difficult and risky it is to deal with patients that have psychiatric problems," sophomore pre-nursing student Brenda Onuselogu said. "I've always had a fear that these patients may become violent, so I intend to focus my nursing education on anesthesiology."

While not all students are interested in going into this challenging field, the need for this profession is obvious to nursing students.

"I'm not interested in the psychiatric field of nursing, but I can relate because I have two sisters that receive this type of medical treatment. So I think it's a really good idea and very commendable," junior nursing student Amanda Whitworth said.

Nursing students said they believe this program will provide depth to the nursing program at MU.

"I think the program will offer a good background for nurses to have because there are a lot of psychiatric patients, especially children that need a nurse that really understands," junior nursing student Brittany Drazic said.

She believes the certificate program will offer important training that most students will never receive in traditional nursing programs.

"All nursing students receive a semester exposing them to mental health, but it's definitely not the same or as in depth as being certified in the specialty," Drazic said.

According to a news release from the college of nursing, the certificate program will be offered on campus and online. Students enrolled in the online course will not be charged out-of-state tuition making it more affordable and accessible, according to the release. In addition, the nursing school will collaborate with the College of Education to aid in developing course selections and faculty resources for the program. According to the release, this partnership aims to develop relationships between nurse practitioners, school teachers and psychologists.


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