M.S. in Nursing, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Track - Message from the Track Coordinator

Dear Prospective Student,

If you are reading this letter, you have at least a casual interest in mental health, and you are most likely aware of the enormous impact of mental illness on society. You may also be aware of the challenges to accessing quality mental health services and the national goal to improve mental health services outlined in Healthy People 2010.

Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are uniquely prepared to improve mental health services. As a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, you'll be able to assess, diagnose, and treat people who have, or have the potential to have, acute and chronic mental health disorders. You'll be able to do so in a holistic fashion, offering a full range of services.

As a graduate of Fairfield's Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program, I myself have experienced the journey you are considering. Based on my experiences, both as a former student and as a current faculty member, there are several unique characteristics about the program that I would like to share with you:

  • The first is the emphasis on holistic care, a fundamental part of my education. A recent conversation with a student indicated that a holistic approach to patients is still emphasized. This student, who has more than 20 years experience in psychiatric nursing, shared her perspective:
    "The most important thing for me about this past year is that I really learned to think outside of a medical model, to view the patient holistically. That shift has completely changed my practice."
  • The second is the importance of the values and ideals of a traditional Jesuit education. In keeping with these values and ideals, Fairfield's program prepares students to work in a variety of settings, with a diverse client population. While based in Jesuit values, the program is fully up-to-date and incorporates the latest theoretical frameworks, as well as innovations in psychiatric assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • The third characteristic is the quality and depth of the faculty's experience, both clinically and academically. The faculty has rich clinical expertise as advanced practice nurses, as well as impressive research and publication records and numerous funded projects. At the same time, they are available to meet with students outside of class to foster their academic and clinical growth, and students come to expect a personal relationship with their faculty mentors.

The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Track is an academically rigorous and personally focused program that will contribute significantly to your personal development, your career success, and the contribution you can make to the mental health community. Please follow the links to the right to further explore the possibilities of advanced study in psychiatric mental health nursing at Fairfield University, and e-mail me directly if you have any questions.

Kathleen Wheeler, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Professor and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Track Coordinator

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