New Graduate Nursing Option Targets Mental Health Care Needs

To help meet demand in the mental health care field, Clarkson College launched the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) specialty in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner in January 2020. The new option prepares students to enter a rewarding field where they will meet the mental health needs of patients facing a wide range of behavioral health issues.  

Adjunct professor and Clarkson College alumna Olivia Larsen, PMHNP, (‘16) has worked in the mental health field since her time in nursing school, and she saw the need for qualified practitioners early on. “I knew I always wanted to end up in the mental health field and absolutely fell in love during nursing school,” she says. “It is a fast-growing need in our society and  an underserved population, and I wanted to do anything I could to use my skills to give back to the world.”  

Darrel Moreland, BSN, (‘14, ‘17) came to the nursing profession a little later in life, but like Larsen, he felt drawn to the mental health care field. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, he went back to school to become a nurse, and he now works at the Immanuel Medical Center Adult Inpatient Mental Health Unit and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Nursing. “I have always been intrigued by the human mind, and I knew I wanted to combine this with my passion for caring for others,” he says. “I had several touch points with mental health care throughout my career, and I felt a passion for working with clients with mental illness.” 

Because the mental health field offers a wide variety of job opportunities, it is a good field for nursing professionals of all levels and backgrounds, says Moreland. Hospitals, clinics, outpatient units, correctional facilities and community organizations all have a need for qualified mental health practitioners. The patient base is extremely diverse, which gives mental health workers the ability to work with adults and children of all ages.  

“There are as many positions in mental health nursing as there are in every field of nursing,” says Moreland. “With mental health becoming an ever-increasing focus in health care, there are more settings where psychiatric nurses are being called to serve.” 

Mental health care is a unique calling, and Moreland recommends students interested in the area seek out job shadow, work and clinical opportunities in mental health units to experience everything the field has to offer. “Anyone seeking a career in mental health nursing should acquaint themselves with ‘a day in the life’ of a psychiatric nurse,” he says. “Students can seek preceptor positions in mental health facilities, and if they are able, students can also work as technicians on inpatient units.”  

The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner option at the College prepares students for the mental health field, an area that is as challenging as it is rewarding. “Being in this profession can be tough at times, but I look forward to it every single day,” says Larsen. “I know I am making a huge difference in the lives and well-being of patients who truly need it.”  

Learn more about the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and other options in the Graduate Nursing program at clarksoncollege.edu/graduate-nursing.