8 Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs


Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

In the U.S., the demand for nurse practitioners with both specialized pediatric and psychiatric skills is growing by leaps and bounds. The effects of social isolation during the COVID-10 pandemic were hugely destructive to America’s youth. Rates of depression and anxiety escalated, as did other mental health and behavioral issues. Nurse practitioners can screen for and initiate treatment for these issues in a variety of settings, including school-based clinics and community health clinics. Interested in learning what pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs are currently available? This article offers an in-depth look at 8 pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs that are the best of their kind.



Top 3 Benefits Of Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs


Do you like kids? Do you have first-rate interpersonal skills that you enjoy integrating into your nursing practice? Then, pediatric psychiatric nurse practice may be the perfect career path for you. Here are three benefits to enrolling in a program that will help you gain expertise in this unique specialty.

Benefit #1: PMHS certification

Many of these programs will prepare you to take the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board’s Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) exam. Additionally, by enrolling in a specialty program like the ones below, you may be able to cut the number of clinical hours you’ll need to complete to qualify to sit for this exam from 2,000 to 1,000. A PMHS credential signals prospective employers that you are committed to the highest standards of professional care for the underserved population of kids and teens affected by developmental, behavioral, and mental health issues.

Benefit #2: Salary

With average earnings of $142,340 a year, pediatric mental health nurse practitioners make salaries 14 percent higher than those of nurse practitioners without a specialization ($124,680.) Pediatric psychiatric NPs, particularly in states where NPs have full practice authority, are cost-effective substitutes for psychiatrists, and their high salaries reflect that. Pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners are particularly cost-effective in primary care practice settings because early intervention for mental illnesses and behavioral issues yields tremendous savings in health treatment and juvenile justice costs.

Benefit #3: Employment opportunities

Employment opportunities for certified psychiatric pediatric nurse practitioners are skyrocketing. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, children and teens in the U.S. were being diagnosed with serious mental health conditions in rising numbers. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of children between the ages of three and 17 diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29 percent, while the number diagnosed with depression grew by 27 percent. Since the pandemic, that number has gotten even larger, and more and more employers at hospitals, community agencies, and schools are coming to understand the vital role psychiatric pediatric NPs with the proper credentials and education can play in helping alleviate this crisis.


What Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs Are Currently Available?

(The following 8 pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs are currently available. The list includes college programs, certificates, fellowships, and residency training programs.)


1. Emory University - Atlanta, GA


Program Type: Emory's Blake Scholars Program (Post-Graduate Certificate)


Emory University’s Blake Scholars Program pays full tuition for students who enroll in the child and adolescent behavioral and mental health specialty associated with Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing’s 26-credit psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner certificate program. This pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner program also offers the opportunity to participate in a year-long child and adolescent behavioral and mental health fellowship, once certificate training is complete. The program is only open to applicants with nursing baccalaureate and master’s degrees licensed in Georgia or a contact state.

The curriculum comprises six courses, 720 clinical hours, and 45 lab hours. Lecture courses may be accessed online through synchronous and asynchronous technology. Students will visit Emory’s campus in Atlanta to participate in intensive skills training, but most clinical practicums may be carried out in pediatric mental health practice settings close to students’ homes. However, you’ll spend your last clinical rotation training at the prestigious Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital.


2. Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NC


Program Type: Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health Specialty Certificate


Only advanced practice RNs planning to be certified in pediatric or family specialties can enroll in Duke University’s 8-credit Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health Specialty Certificate program. It’s the only one of the pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs currently offered that’s taught on a campus. Coursework begins in the spring. The curriculum comprises two didactic courses and a clinical rotation in a behavioral mental health setting specifically designed for children or teens.

The certificate prepares students to sit for the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board’s Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist certification (although students will need to complete 2,000 clinical hours in a pediatric mental health practice setting before they qualify to take the exam.)


3. Nationwide Children’s Hospital - Columbus, OH


Program Type: Barbara Trueman Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Fellowship


Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, offers a one-year postgraduate fellowship, the first of its kind in the nation. The Barbara Trueman Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Fellowship was designed for PMHNPs with an interest in learning how to manage children and adolescents with co-morbid psychiatric disorders. Students attend weekly lectures on topics ranging from comprehensive diagnostic assessment to psychopharmacology, but the bulk of their learning comes from managing caseloads and completing clinical rotations in inpatient child, adolescent, and neurobehavioral units.

Applicants must have graduated from accredited PMHNP programs within the past 18 months. This pediatric psychiatric NP program is open only to nurses with RN and APRN licensure in Ohio.


4. University of California-San Diego - La Jolla, CA


Program Type: Post-Graduate Child-Adolescent Psychiatric (CAP) Fellowship


The University of California-San Diego’s Post-Graduate Child-Adolescent Psychiatric (CAP) Fellowship focuses on outpatient care for youth and families in medically underserved communities who are affected by severe mental illness. The CAP Fellowship utilizes continuity care clinics throughout San Diego County for clinical training as well as specialty rotational sites such as emergency departments and short-term stabilization units. Each clinical rotation lasts between four and six months. Weekly lectures help ensure students keep abreast of the latest developments in medical therapeutics, community psychiatry concepts, and mental health integration trends with primary care and pediatric care.

Applicants must have RN and NP licensure in California. You must also be a certified PMHNP who has graduated from an accredited program within the last 12 months.


5. Seattle Children’s Hospital - Seattle, WA


Program Type: Seattle Children’s Psychiatric Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Fellowship


Seattle Children’s Hospital’s contribution to pediatric psychiatric NP programs is the 12-month Seattle Children’s Psychiatric Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Fellowship, open to psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners with either an MSN or a DNP. The first two weeks of the program, nicknamed “Boot Camp,” are an in-depth orientation to the multiple practice settings of Seattle Children’s Hospital and its community partners.

APP fellows spend the next three months on foundational learning and the six months after that providing direct patient care under supervision in inpatient, outpatient, and community-based environments. During the final three months of the fellowship, APP fellows practice without supervision. Twice-monthly lectures and Psychiatry Grand Rounds provide the didactic components of this learning experience.


6. Hartford HealthCare - Hartford, CT


Program Type: Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Fellowship


Hartford Healthcare’s Post-Graduate Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Fellowship differs from several other fellowship pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs in that it’s 10 months long instead of one year. You’ll spend the first three months providing inpatient care at Institute of Living and Hartford Hospital and working with long-term patients in psychiatric and pediatric clinics. During the second three months, you’ll add clinical rotations and begin working with partners within the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network. You’ll spend your final months providing outpatient care.

You’ll participate in didactic learning sessions with post-graduate year physicians as well as APRNs, focusing on psychopharmacology. This program is only open to psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners who’ve recently completed their NP training.


7. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH


Program Type: KySS Mental Health Fellowship: Child and Adolescent


Ohio State University’s KySS Mental Health Fellowship: Child and Adolescent is an online program designed to help students hone their screening, assessment, and management competencies. The course is taught by faculty members associated with OSU’s distinguished College of Nursing, and each participant is assigned a course mentor. When you complete the course, you’ll receive credit for 40.39 nursing continuing education credits or 5.69 pharmacology continuing education credits.

The KySS Mental Health Fellowship curriculum meets the educational requirements for the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board’s Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist Certification exam. Also, it entitles you to a 10 percent discount. (To qualify, you must also complete 1,000 clinical hours in a pediatric mental health practice setting.) The course is open to family nurse practitioners, pediatric nurse practitioners, and pediatric nurses, as well as psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners.


8. University of Colorado - Aurora, CO


Program Type: APP Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


University of Colorado’s nine-month APP Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry takes place at the Pediatric Mental Health Institute (PMHI) at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora. You’ll spend two months rotating through CHC’s Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, two months rotating through the Neuropsychiatric Special Care Unit, two months rotating the Partial Hospitalization Program, and then one month each rotating through the Emergency Department, the Eating Disorder Program, and an elective service that aligns with your specific interests.

You’ll spend one afternoon a week throughout this pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner program working in the outpatient psychiatry clinic. This fellowship is only open to psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners.


Where Do Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Mostly Work?


Graduates of pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs work in a variety of practice settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools, community agencies, public health departments, and day treatment facilities.

Work Setting #1: Schools

Children frequently receive mental health care in nontraditional, community-based settings such as schools. In a school setting, pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners have ample opportunity to screen for mental and behavioral disorders and to manage treatment for children who’ve already been diagnosed. School-based pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners can also help coordinate care by making referrals. Additionally, pediatric psychiatric NPs play a vital role in educating parents and family members.

Work Setting #2: Day Treatment Facilities

Non-residential facilities provide a blend of mental health and special education services to children and adolescents who live at home or in the community. Pediatric psychiatric NPs in day treatment facilities provide individual and group therapy as well as a host of lifestyle interventions such as healthy nutrition and sleep hygiene counseling, and relaxation and coping strategies. Pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners in day treatment centers also focus on providing parental support to improve the quality of parent-child interactions.

Work Setting #3: Hospitals

In hospitals, pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners are often called upon to assess and develop treatment plans for pediatric patients whose chronic or acute illnesses are causing stress that’s difficult to manage. NPs with pediatric psychiatric training are frequently called upon for Emergency Room consultations when ER doctors must deal with pediatric patients affected by problematic lifestyle choices such as alcohol or drug abuse.


Starting Salary For Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners


A new pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner program graduate earns $99,710 a year, which amounts to $47.94 an hour, $1,918 a week, or $8,310 a month.

Hourly $47.94
Weekly $1,918
Monthly $8,310
Annual $99,710
(Source: Nursingprocess.org)


Average Salary For Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners


Experienced pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners make $68.43 an hour, which equals $2,737 a week, $11,860 a month, or $142,340 annually. This is 43 percent higher than the salary these NPs make when they first graduate from a pediatric psychiatric NP program.

Hourly $68.43
Weekly $2,737
Monthly $11,860
Annual $142,340
(Source: Nursingprocess.org)


My Final Thoughts


This article has presented an in-depth look at what pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs are currently available. The number of children in the U.S. with treatable mental health disorders is growing, and with that growth has come the acknowledgment that more needs to be done for these children, particularly at the primary care level. It’s very likely the 8 pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner programs described above will be joined by others in the near future.


Frequently Asked Questions Answered


1. On Average, How Much Do Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Make Per Hour?

Pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners earn $68.43 an hour on average.

Salary Per Hour
$68.43


2. On Average, How Much Do Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Make Per Week?

In a single week, pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners can expect to earn $2,837.

Salary Per Week
$2,737


3. On Average, How Much Do Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Make Per Month?

Pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners earn monthly salaries of $11,860.

Salary Per Month
$11,860


4. On Average, How Much Do Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners Make Per Year?

Pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioners make $142,340 per year on average.

Salary Per Year
$142,340


5. What Are The 10 Highest Paying States For Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners?

The highest-paying states for pediatric psychiatric NPs follow the salary trends for other midlevel healthcare professionals. California pays its pediatric psychiatric NPs an average of $180,530 a year, 27 percent higher than the average pediatric psychiatric NP salary in the U.S.

California’s prominence on the list of top-paying states for pediatric psychiatric NPs probably reflects the fact that it’s the top-paying state for practically every kind of healthcare professional because the Golden State doesn’t rank near the top when it comes to other critical indicators like cost, quality, and access to children’s mental healthcare services.

RankHighest Paying States
StateAverage Annual Salary
1California$180,530
2New Jersey$163,540
3New York$161,510
4Massachusetts$158,350
5Oregon$155,550
6Nevada$155,530
7Washington$154,800
8Connecticut$150,110
9New Mexico$147,910
10Hawaii$146,480


6. What Are The 10 Highest Paying Cities For Pediatric Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners?

All but one of the top 10 metros where pediatric psychiatric NPs are paid the highest are in California. Pediatric psychiatric NPs in the Silicon Valley average $227,910 a year, 60 percent more than the average pediatric psychiatric NP salary throughout the U.S., while pediatric psychiatric NPs in the San Francisco Bay Area average $216,990, 52 percent more. Even pediatric psychiatric NPs in the desert town of El Centro in the impoverished Imperial Valley earn $173,950 a year, 22 percent higher than the average pediatric psychiatric NP salary throughout the U.S.

RankHighest Paying Cities
CityAverage Annual Salary
1San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$227,910
2San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$216,990
3Napa, CA$215,990
4Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$206,630
5New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$194,440
6Yuba City, CA$184,590
7Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA$180,160
8San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA$179,800
9Salinas, CA$179,150
10El Centro, CA$173,950


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.




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