Best Dual FNP/PMHNP Programs For 2021
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
With all the many opportunities and choices for specialty career concentrations, it is no wonder that nursing is one of the biggest healthcare careers in the United States. A growing trend among nurses seeking graduate degrees is to earn dual degrees concurrently. One example of that is the FNP/PMHNP dual program. If you want a career as a family nurse practitioner, desire to pursue work in the field of psychiatry, and wish to broaden your academic and professional boundaries, dual FNP/PMHNP programs could be just what you need to be able to do both. In this article, I will share some information about the best dual FNP/PMHNP programs for 2021 and answer some frequently asked questions about these programs.
What Exactly Is the Goal of a Dual FNP/PMHNP Program?
Dual nurse practitioner programs combine two population-focused concentrations or roles. Students enrolled in these programs complete coursework and clinical requirements to satisfy both degrees. The goal of dual FNP/PMHNP programs is to provide students with instruction to prepare them for advanced practice roles as a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
The Family Nurse Practitioner concentration provides students with the knowledge and specialized skills needed to provide primary care to patients and their families across the lifespan. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner component of the program prepares students to diagnose and treat a broad range of mental health conditions for clients throughout their lifespan.
7 Big Advantages of Dual FNP/PMHNP Programs
If you are still reading, that means you are interested to know how dual FNP/PMHNP programs may benefit you. Keep reading! Here are seven advantages for you to consider.
1. An FNP/PMHNP dual program can help you extend your professional reach to larger patient populations.
While Family Nurse Practitioners provide care to patients and their families from birth through old age, they do not have a specific specialty concentration in psychiatric care. By earning the FNP/PMHNP dual degrees, you will add patients who require psychiatric care to your population foci, broadening the reach of your practice.
2. You will have the option of variety when you begin to choose a job.
Nursing is a massive industry with endless opportunities. One of the biggest perks of earning a dual degree like the Family Nurse Practitioner/Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner is you will be prepared to work in either, or both, of two specialties.
3. Prepare yourself to earn a high income.
Although employers rarely require nurse practitioners to have dual degrees, they are not oblivious to the fact that your knowledge and clinical expertise can be of value to them. After completing a dual Family NP/Psychiatric NP program, you can earn an average annual income of over $140,000.
4. You will be prepared to provide care in two of the most used areas of healthcare services, meaning you can look forward to career stability.
Family nurse practitioners provide care across the healthcare spectrum to clients of all ages, making them a vital part of routine patient care. With increased awareness about mental health and wellness and less stigma attached to those who seek care, the need for psychiatric care practitioners is growing. Both factors suggest you can look forward to a long career with a dual FNP/PMHNP degree.
5. FNP/PMHNP dual programs allow you to earn two graduate degrees concurrently, saving you time overall on your academic endeavor.
If you are confident in your decision to earn two degrees, the option of a dual degree program is an excellent way to accomplish that goal while saving time. Many of these programs can be completed together in three or four years instead of earning each degree separately and spending the same amount of time on each one.
6. Let’s talk about money a little more! Earning more money is a great plus, but what about saving money?
You can not only save time earning your degrees in a dual format but can also save a good bit of money. You will, of course, need to evaluate the cost of each Family NP/Psychiatric NP program that interests you and compare their prices to be sure which would offer the most savings. Keep in mind, nurse practitioner programs may have some coursework that is the same regardless of the specialty. Classes like Advanced Pharmacology or Statistics may be part of each program's curriculum. When you decide to enroll in a dual degree program like the ones featured in this article, you will only take each course once but receive credit toward your dual degree.
7. Amazing access to top-notch instructors who prepare you for a dual role:
Instructors for dual FNP/PMHNP programs are experienced professionals in their specialty and pass their knowledge and expertise on to you, preparing you to excel in the advanced role.
How Long Are FNP/PMHNP Dual Programs?
Typically, the best FNP/PMHNP dual programs take three to four years to complete. That is not to say that some students may graduate in less time while others take longer. If you enter the program with a BSN, you can expect to spend at least one academic year longer in school than students who enter with a master's degree in nursing. Part-time students naturally take more time to complete the programs. When you begin to apply for different programs, you should speak with an academic advisor who can help review your transcripts and determine how many credits or clinical hours you will need. The advisor will develop a plan of study tailored to your needs.
The following are examples of the best programs from this article with information about each program's length.
Students may complete the dual Family Nurse Practitioner/Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
in three years. A GAP analysis is used to evaluate each student's previous academic coursework and needed credits, determining the length of time it takes to complete the program.
At the University of Arizona
, students can enroll in the FNP/PMHNP dual program and earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice with degrees in both family and psychiatric nursing in as little as three and a half years.
The Samford University’s
MSN accredited dual FNP/PMHNP program can be completed in seven semesters of full-time study.
• Louisiana State University
Health Science Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, offers a four-year BSN to DNP program with dual FNP/PMHNP concentrations.
The Capstone College of Nursing at the University of Alabama
offers MSN to DNP and BSN to DNP options for students who wish to achieve dual degrees as a Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The program is formatted as a four-year plan of study.
How Much Do FNP/PMHNP Dual Programs Cost?
Making academic plans includes careful financial preparation. Before student loans, grants, or other financial assistance, the best FNP/PMHNP dual programs can cost from $29,000 to $150,000 or more. If you are considering applying for any college program, it is a good idea to fill out an application for federal student aid, also known as FAFSA
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This application can be used to determine if you qualify for federally funded grants or loans to help with the cost of school. Other options such as employer-sponsored education programs, work-study programs, or personal loans may also help offset the expense.
The list below includes the cost of the featured programs from this article.
The dual FNP/PMHNP program at the University of Arizona
costs $975 per credit hour, with an average tuition cost of $84,825.
Tuition at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
is determined by a student’s residency status. Tennessee residents pay $650, and out-of-state students pay $700 per credit hour. Total tuition
for the dual FNP/PMHNP program is $47,450 for resident students and $51,100 for non-residents.
At Samford University
, tuition for the MSN-FNP/PMHNP program is $906 per credit hour, regardless of state residency status. Students must earn fifty-nine credit hours to complete the program, which makes tuition cost approximately $53,454
At Louisiana State University Health Science Center
, tuition for DNP programs, including the accredited dual FNP/PMHNP program, is $21,907.50 per academic year for Louisiana residents and $38,262.23 for non-resident students. This cost is based on the 2021-2022 Tuition and Fees
Schedule and includes student fees.
The Family Nurse Practitioner/Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Alabama
is a BSN to MSN option that requires students to complete sixty-six to seventy-two credit hours, depending on their individual needs. The tuition rate for distance learners is $440 per credit hour, averaging between $29,040 and $31,680. This estimated cost is for tuition only and not inclusive of books, supplies, course materials, or proctoring fees.
Family Nurse Practitioner/Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner dual degree programs include a rigorous curriculum. Each school's curriculum may vary somewhat. However, required core courses and concentration-specific topics are slightly standard. Here are a few examples of classes you may take in a dual FNP/PMHNP program.
◦ Integrated Behavioral Health Care: Focuses on the integration of behavioral healthcare methods in primary care settings. Students learn to recognize and manage common mental and behavioral health disorders across the lifespan.
◦ Management of Complex Health Problems: Evidence-based, patient and family-centered care focus on complex health problems is covered in this course. Instructors prepare students to combine strategies to promote effective interprofessional collaboration and transitions of care.
◦ Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan: This course presents concepts related to common illnesses and diseases that affect patients throughout their lifespan. Additionally, concepts that affect mortality and morbidity are examined.
◦ Reproductive, Childbearing, and Newborn Advanced Nursing Concepts: In this class, students are exposed to theoretical, conceptual, and clinical foundations for the delivery of patient and family-centered reproductive, childbearing, and newborn nursing care. Conditions that affect female and male reproduction, newborn health, the childbearing cycle, and sexual health promotion are addressed.
◦ Child and Adolescent Mental Healthcare for Advanced Psychiatric Nursing: Foundational and theoretical knowledge necessary to diagnose and treat child and adolescent psychiatric/mental health conditions are explored. Students learn the role of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner in the delivery of child and adolescent mental health.
The following is information about the curriculum for each of the featured programs in this article.
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
offers one of the best FNP/PMHNP dual programs tailored for students who wish to transition from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The program includes post-BSN coursework and concentration-specific classes tailored to Family Nurse Practitioners and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. The curriculum plan requires students to complete seventy-three credit hours to be eligible for graduation.
◦ Epidemiology for Clinical Practice
◦ Psychiatric Mental Health Disorders
◦ Biological Treatments for Psychiatric Disorders
◦ Advanced Family Nursing I and II (Both courses have a corresponding clinical rotation.)
◦ Assessment Strategies in Psychiatric/Mental Healthcare
The dual FNP/PMHNP specialty option at the University of Arizona
is available to current FNP or PMHNP. The eighty-seven-credit hour program includes extensive coursework designed to prepare students to manage various healthcare conditions, including general family health issues and psychiatric mental health from episodic to chronic conditions using a holistic approach.
◦ Statistical Inference for Evidence-Based Practice
• Samford University
◦ Advanced Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing I and II
◦ Behavioral Health Therapy Across the Lifespan
◦ Pediatric Pharmacotherapeutics
, featuring one of the best accredited dual FNP/PMHNP programs, offers the program in an MSN format. The program consists of fifty-nine credit hours of coursework delivered in an online format.
◦ Family Practice Care I, II, III, and IV (Clinical rotations follow these courses in one of the following: Adult Care, OB/GYN Clinical Care, Pediatric Care, and Family Care)
◦ Psychiatric Mental Health I, II, and III (Each course has a corresponding clinical rotation)
◦ Statistics for Advanced Practice Nursing
◦ Research, Theory, and Quality Improvement
◦ Ethical Leadership and Collaboration
Like the other featured dual FNP/PMHNP programs online, Louisiana State University Health Science Center
combines the education and training designed for Family and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs allowing students to earn two degrees concurrently. Academic advisors work with students to develop individualized plans of study to ensure they achieve the necessary competencies.
◦ Advanced Psychiatric-Mental Health Assessment and Diagnostics
◦ Clinical Modalities Across the Lifespan in Advanced Practice Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing
◦ Clinical Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology, and Mental Health
◦ Primary Care NP I: Adult Populations and Episodic Disease Management
◦ Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: Vulnerable Populations and Chronic Disease Management
The University of Alabama’s
dual FNP/PMHNP program prepares students for the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Across the lifespan and Family Nurse Practitioner national certification examinations. Students complete assigned coursework online and must attend two one-day on-campus sessions during their program.
◦ Advanced Health Assessment
◦ Clinical Data Management and Analysis
◦ Advanced Pharmacology
◦ Psychiatric Mental Health Practitioner Role and Issues
◦ Family Nurse Practitioner I, II, and III
A clinical component is part of every nursing program. The number of hours a student must achieve may vary depending on previous clinical experiences and the type of program they choose to pursue. Students enrolled in a BSN to MSN program may require fewer clinical practice hours. Although criteria for each program may differ, most BSN to MSN programs require students to achieve a minimum of 500 hands-on clinical practice hours. Students pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice are expected to complete at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours.
The following indicates the number of clinical hours needed to graduate from the best dual programs featured in this article.
At the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
, students participate in 1,140 clinical hours. The clinical component of the program, one of our featured accredited dual Family NP/Psychiatric NP programs, encompasses a broad range of clinical settings and experiences to give students diverse clinical experiences.
The University of Arizona
emphasizes health promotion and assessment, healthcare maintenance, illness management, and clinical decision-making in the classroom and clinical settings. The dual FNP/PMHNP program online offered by the university requires students to complete a minimum of 1,440 clinical practice hours, 720 for each specialty, including extensive clinical time and a DNP project.
Clinical training for the MSN Family and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program at Samford University
includes rotations in several clinical areas. Students complete at least 1,200 clinical hours in Adult, Pediatric, Family, OB/GYN, and Psychiatric healthcare settings.
At Louisiana State University Health Science Center
, students in the Family NP/Psychiatric NP dual online program must complete 1,800 clinical hours to be eligible for graduation. Clinical rotations offer experiences to help students develop advanced skills necessary to care for clients across the lifespan in primary care settings and mental healthcare settings.
Students pursuing the BSN to DNP dual FNP/PMHNP at the University of Alabama
must complete a clinical component including 1,080 to 1,620 clinical hours. MSN to DNP students in the program must achieve at least five hundred forty post-master's hours of clinical practice.
Finding a school and program is just one step to beginning your journey to earning a Family/Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner dual degree. The next step is finding out the admission requirements and making sure you meet deadlines in applying. Every school has the right to establish its own admission requirements. Dual FNP/PMHNP programs, though, typically have similar minimum standards, which include the following.
◦ Applicants should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing (depending on the type of program the school offers)
◦ Submit all official transcripts
◦ Possess a current, unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Provide letters of professional recommendation
◦ Submit a Statement of Purpose
◦ Pass a background check and drug screening
Here are some admission requirements for the featured programs shared in this article.
In addition to academic performance and other criteria, a holistic approach to admissions screening is used by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on all collegiate work or a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 during the most recently achieved degree program
◦ Submit a Statement of Intent/Personal Essay that provides the College of Nursing Admissions Committee with information about the applicant's motivation, professional goals, and expectations of the program. The essay is one-way admissions faculty will evaluate an applicant's written communication skills.
◦ Some applicants will be required to participate in an interview with admissions faculty to further assess their personal attributes.
◦ Have access to a personal computer with reliable web access
◦ Complete a criminal background check and drug screen within 30 days of acceptance to the program
Admission to the DNP programs at the University of Arizona
is competitive. Applicants with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing are encouraged to apply. Because admission is competitive, applicants are encouraged to remain apprised of timetables and deadlines for the specialty and submit all required documents/materials before any deadline.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Possess a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited program
◦ BSN to DNP students must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
◦ MSN to DNP applicants must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher
◦ Provide two letters of recommendation from professional colleagues
◦ Submit official transcripts from any post-secondary education program ever attended
To apply to the MSN dual degree at Samford University
you need to meet the following requirements.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Completion of undergraduate Nursing Research course with a grade of “C” or higher
4. Louisiana State University Health Science Center
◦ Completion of undergraduate Health Assessment course with a grade of “B” or higher
◦ Official transcripts that reflect a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale for all previous nursing courses
◦ Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from an ACEN-, CCNE-, or CNEA- and institutionally accredited college or university
offers a full-time BSN to DNP dual Family NP/Psychiatric NP program. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for certification examinations for both specialties and with certification, are eligible for advanced practice licensure in all fifty United States and the District of Columbia.
Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for any undergraduate and/or graduate coursework
◦ Any applicant who has attended a previous nursing program without earning a degree must present a letter of good academic standing from that school of nursing.
◦ Clinical Nursing Experience
◦ Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of 300 or higher when combining verbal and quantitative scores on the 130-170 scoring scale. GRE scores must have been earned within the last five years.
◦ Successfully complete an interview with program faculty.
Applicants for the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the University of Alabama
are considered on a competitive basis. The BSN to DNP pathway is only available to applicants who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas.
Sample Admission Requirements (BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP):
◦ Hold a current unrestricted license to practice as an RN in a state where the program is approved
◦ Reside in a state-approved for admission to the program
◦ Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on all undergraduate coursework OR 3.0 for the last sixty semester hours of undergraduate coursework
◦ Applicants must pass a drug screen, and criminal background check before a final offer of admission is granted.
Additional Post-Masters DNP Sample Admission Requirements:
◦ Have a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a master's degree in another relevant field (Applicants who are admitted with a non-nursing master’s degree may be required to take additional courses); OR
◦ Possess a Master of Science in Nursing degree
FOLLOWING ARE THE 5 BEST DUAL FNP/PMHNP PROGRAMS (ONLINE & CAMPUS) IN THE NATION FOR 2021
(These FNP/PMHNP Dual Concentration Programs are ideal for individuals who wish to become a nurse practitioner with expertise in both FNP and PMHNP.)
1. University of Tennessee Health Science Center - Memphis, TN (Campus)Programs Offered: BSN to DNP
2. University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ (Online)Programs Offered: DNP
3. Samford University - Birmingham, AL (Online)Programs Offered: MSN
4. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - New Orleans, LA (Campus)Programs Offered: BSN to DNP
5. The University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa, AL (Online)Programs Offered: MSN
and BSN to DNP
View Ranking Methodology
Career Opportunities Post-Completion of This Dual Program
There are many great career opportunities for graduates of accredited FNP/PMHNP dual programs. Some PMHNPs may work in outpatient clinics, inpatient psychiatric facilities, or safe initiative and social services organizations. Family Nurse Practitioners may work in independent clinics or with other healthcare providers in nursing homes, hospices, or schools. Private, public, or government organizations may hire graduates of FNP/PMHNP programs. Some may work in academia, such as in positions at colleges and universities. A few job descriptions are listed below.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner- Remote Provider:
Conducts video and audio visits with clients and manage patient medication regiments, consulting with a primary care provider as needed.
Inpatient Crisis Stabilization Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner:
Provides psychiatric care to clients experiencing psychiatric crises requiring inpatient care; assesses patients, prescribes medication and/or treatment, and evaluates effectiveness in collaboration with the interprofessional healthcare team.
Family Nurse Practitioner-Physician Office:
Assists the Medical Director in developing clinical practice guidelines, participates in care team meetings, performs assessments, orders, and evaluates results of laboratory and other examinations, and creates a plan of care for patients accordingly.
Family Nurse Practitioner-School NP:
Responsible for evaluation of acute illness or injury that occurs on school premises, may administer medications as needed, provide wound care, and refer to an outside physician or emergency department, as required.
Average FNP/PMHNP Salary
If you are looking for a career where you can make a good income, you have found it. The average salary for nurse practitioners with dual FNP/PMHNP degrees is $141,850. While that number is nothing to frown at, it is only an average. Statistics indicate that with every five years of work experience, nurse practitioners can anticipate an increase in income between $3,000 and $6,000. Many of these positions come with generous benefits packages that include paid vacation and sick leave, retirement, and insurance plans which can be worth thousands of dollars each year.
Job Outlook for Graduates of This Dual Program
Several factors suggest the job outlook for graduates of dual FNP/PMHNP programs is promising. Two of the most significant factors are the overall view of mental health and wellness issues and a lack of primary care physicians.
At one time, mental health issues were disregarded and/or misunderstood. As we become more educated on the importance of mental health and learn about risk factors for mental illness or disease, the stigma once attached to psychiatric care is slowly waning. As a result, more people are reaching out for help when they or a loved one need it, creating the need for more qualified psychiatric care providers.
The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projects from 2018-2033
, a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges and based on a study by the Life Science division of IHS Markit, indicated a physician shortage between 54,000 and 139,000 by 2033. The study that this publication was based on was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic. The AAMC's President and CEO, David Skorton, MD, has stated that "As our health care system continues to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a strong and sufficient health care workforce is more apparent than ever. Specialty physician shortages are particularly urgent.”
The Bottom Line
If you are considering a career as a nurse practitioner with dual degrees, a significant interest in mental health issues, and a desire to care for patients of all ages, an FNP/PMHNP dual degree could be the perfect fit for you. The best dual FNP/PMHNP programs for 2021 offer excellent opportunities to help you begin pursuing your academic and professional goals. There is no time like the present to make your nurse practitioner dreams come true!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
If I am interested in dual FNP/PMHNP programs, what should be my first step?
The first step in pursuing a Family NP/Psychiatric NP program dual program is to make a list of your interests and goals. Follow that with thorough research into colleges that offer this program. If you understand what each program offers to, and requires of its students and how the program is delivered/structured, you can determine which one will be the best fit for your goals.
What should students realistically expect from dual FNP/PMHNP programs?
Regardless of which school they choose, students in any available dual Family Nurse Practitioner/Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner programs should expect a rigorous curriculum. The curriculum includes general nursing courses, advanced practice nursing coursework, and hands-on clinical practice experiences.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.