Rochester, Minn. – To meet the critical demand ​for psychiatric mental health providers in the region, WSU Graduate Programs in Nursing has added a Psychiatric-mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) graduate certificate program to their curriculum. It is one of the first of its kind in the state of Minnesota.

The inaugural 15-month program will graduate six students; including Nurse Practitioner, Karen Lilyquist. “​I had been looking for about a year for a program like this – half of my primary care patients needed psychiatric care and their needs just weren’t being met.”

The story is all too common, with multiple area providers noting the lengthy wait times: Weeks, sometimes months to see a specialist for psychiatric problems.

Fellow student, Kathie ​Norkol agrees. “There is large shortage of prescribers. For example I work at a dual diagnosis center, where we address mental illness and substance abuse, with an average 3 month wait list.” Kathie continues, “from a medical perspective, I do what I can, but this program gives me better tools to diagnose and a better understanding how to treat from a medication perspective.”

The greatest need is for primary care nurse practitioners to have added expertise/certification in care of persons and families managing psychiatric problems.

“This is huge,” says Karen. “The program allows us a more specific scope of practice. If I have a patient that is feeling suicidal, I have full prescribing ability and can assist the patient until they are able to see a specialist.”

“We are excited to be one of the first in the state of Minnesota to offer this program to ​our nurse practitioners that are already serving our communities so well.” Says Jeanine Gangeness, Associate Vice President, WSU – Rochester.

Says Karen, “I am so grateful to Winona State University. They saw a need in our communities for mental health support and they addressed it by adding this amazing program to their offerings.”

May 6t​h​ kicks off National Nurses Week and May is Mental Health Month.

About WSU-Rochester

Winona State University – Rochester has been serving the Rochester community and southeast Minnesota for over 100 years. WSU-Rochester offers Bachelor completion Graduate Certificate academic programing supporting workforce needs and development. WSU-Rochester’s faculty, staff, and students are dedicated to improving the communities they live in and our alumni continue to do great things throughout the United States. For more information about WSU-Rochester, visit: ​www.winona.edu/Rochester

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