Nursing program developing master’s in mental health

Kim Thompson

The College of Nursing may soon have a new program to attract prospective graduate students.

The college has developed a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner master’s program and is awaiting approval from university administration.

Currently, master’s students can specialize in psychiatric mental health through a combined clinical specialist and nurse practitioner program.

The programs would be separate to make another market available, said Diana Biordi, assistant dean for Research and Graduate Studies. Students interested in the nurse practitioner program wouldn’t have to go through the clinical nurse specialist program.

Another reason the college wanted to create the program is to make nurses available who have skills in psychiatric care and as nurse practitioners, said Claire Draucker, director of the graduate program in psychiatric mental health nursing.

Draucker said the field of psychiatric care focuses more on the relationship between physical and psychiatric health problems, and she added that having nurses with both sets of skills will benefit the community.

“Often the psychiatric disorder will mask a physical problem,” Draucker said. “It may look like a person has depression when in fact, they have a thyroid problem. So to have practitioners that have skills both in assessing psychiatric disorders as well as physical disorders will result in more comprehensive care.”

While some programs at Kent State are being cut due to decreased state funding, Draucker said starting this program is feasible because it doesn’t require any additional funds. She said the program is a collaborative effort between the psychiatric mental health program and the adult nurse practitioner program.

“We’re pooling resources to do this program,” Draucker said.

The issue recently passed through the Faculty Senate and may appear before the Board of Trustees in the April meeting.

Contact medicine reporter Kim Thompson at [email protected].