Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Post-Graduate Certificate

Nurse with a patient

Spring 2025 applications open July 1, 2024

PMHNP Program Overview

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) are one of the fastest-growing non-physician specialties in health care. It is estimated that by 2025, the mental health field will fall short of meeting the projected service demand of 250,000 professionals (The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 45% for all nurse practitioners until 2029. Upon program completion, our graduates are eligible to sit for certification for the American Nurse Credentialing Center.

Our board certification scores consistently exceed national benchmarks, and our graduates are highly regarded for employment opportunities in numerous settings and with diverse patient populations. The PMHNP DNP program at MUSC gives you the opportunity to find your niche in this fascinating and rewarding specialty. 

The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Role

As a PMHNP, you will assess, diagnose, and treat the mental health needs of patients. Treating mental health conditions can involve numerous interventions – giving PMHNPs the option to truly specialize in their field.

  • Work specifically with children and adolescents, only adults or both.
  • Provide only psychotherapeutic services or both medication management and psychotherapy.

You will often be seen as an educator – advancing recognition of mental health as a fundamental component of an individual’s well-being and assisting in healthcare reform and policy development. A specialized focus on relationship-building makes this a unique and rewarding specialty.

Program Highlights

  • You will learn a holistic, integrated approach to treating and managing mental health conditions.
  • Integrated curriculum with an interprofessional learning environment that enables you to learn about a variety of different disciplines and specialty areas such as telemedicine, primary care, school based care, substance use disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Our curriculum offers specialized training in psychiatric medication management as well as psychotherapy training opportunities in modalities including trauma focused therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and dialect behavioral therapy.
  • We offer an optional two-semester long certificate program in psychodynamic psychotherapy. Selected students will attend remote bimonthly meetings with PMHNP faculty and a masters prepared therapist for didactic, case presentation and supervision.


Year 1, Spring

NRDNP 861 Neuroscience of Psychotherapeutic Interventions & Psychopharmacology 3
NRDNP 868 Neuroscience for Advanced APRNs 2
Semester Total

Year 1, Summer

NRDNP 864 Advanced Care Management I 6
Semester Total

Year 1, Fall

NRDNP 865 Advanced Care Management II 6
Semester Total

Year 2, Spring

NRDNP 866 Advanced Care Management III 6
Semester Total
Curriculum Total 23


Prepare to empower patients and promote evidence-based care. Look toward the next stage by applying to one of the College of Nursing’s degree or certificate programs.


Discover answers to commonly asked questions about the College of Nursing, admissions, and academic programs.

Meet Your Lead Faculty, Dr. Joy Lauerer

lauerer headshot

Joy Lauerer
Lead Faculty

Joy Lauerer is an associate professor in the College of Nursing. She received her Bachelor’s degree from The University of Toledo and her Masters of Nursing from Wayne State University. Joy completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at The University of Alabama.

Joy is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. She has maintained a private practice treating preschoolers to young adults with mental health issues for the past 15 years.

Joy’s research interests include adolescent self-care and teaching children and adolescent’s strategies to promote and protect health over a lifetime. Joy has received numerous awards for her work in the community with vulnerable populations. Joy has expertise treating children and adolescents with behavioral health issues. She is currently practicing in a school based tele psych clinic with the MUSC telehealth center and at One 80 Place. She has received The Golden Lamp award an unprecedented 4 times chosen by the students as the nurse they would most like to emulate as a professional nurse. Joy also received The Palmetto Gold award in 2014 for excellence in nursing education.

In 2016 Joy received The APNA award for Innovation in Education and in 2017 was elected for a three-year appointment as the Co-chair of the child adolescent council. In 2021 Joy was selected to Co-chair a tele mental health committee for APNA. Joy is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, The American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and The American Holistic Nurses Association.

Joy teaches courses in the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.

Federal Aid Notice: Due to federal funding guidelines, federal financial aid is unavailable to students who participate in the Psychiatric Mental Health Certificate program.