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In an effort to address a shortage of mental health providers in the state of California, UC San Francisco (UCSF), in collaboration with UC Davis and UCLA, has announced the launch of an online training program for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs). The program aims to train 300 new mental health providers to enter the state’s workforce by 2025.

An estimated 17 percent of Californians live with mental health needs, according to ucsf.edu. Many in that population lack access to mental health care and the problem is expected to worsen as the psychiatrist workforce continues to dwindle. Graduates of UC San Francisco’s new program are projected to serve as many as 378,000 patients over the next five years.

California currently has 13,000 nurse practitioners in its workforce, many of whom care for underserved populations in primary care settings including hospitals, prisons, schools, and other outpatient medical practices. PMHNPs are specialized mental health professionals authorized to prescribe psychotropic medications, treat severe mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and offer psychiatric care.

Program co-director Rosalind De Lisser, MS, RN, NP, associate professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, tells ucsf.edu, “I am tremendously excited about this innovative multi-campus program. It has the potential to expand our reach as an educational institution by providing excellent clinical training and contributing to the workforce development needs of California.”

Her sentiments were echoed by fellow co-director Deborah Johnson, DNP, RN, NP, also an associate professor in the UCSF School of Nursing, who stated: “Building upon our successful history as a top-ranked public PMHNP program, this program eliminates geographical barriers and allows California NPs in primary care to gain the education and training necessary to provide behavioral health services in their communities. The three-school collaboration provides high-quality educational resources for students across the state.”

The new program is scheduled to launch in fall 2020, with administrative offices located on the UC San Francisco campus. Students will be able to complete their clinical training component in the region where they live. The program aims to recruit 40 students for the first years and 65 students each following year, for a total of 300 PMHNPs over five years.

To learn more about the new online training program for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners being launched by UC San Francisco in collaboration with UC Davis and UCLA, visit here.

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