Graduate Nursing Students in a Classroom

WSU-Rochester Graduate Nursing Students in a Classroom

Rochester, MN–The Graduate Programs in Nursing at Winona State University (WSU) have been awarded a $75,000 grant to lead a HealthForce Minnesota Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (PMH APRN) Collaborative. This Collaborative will address critical mental health needs of individuals, families and communities in Minnesota through development of a new graduate certificate program.

According to the 2013 Olmsted County Community Needs Assessment, 10% of all adolescents feel sad all or most days and 57% of adults have felt worried tense or anxious at least one day in the last 30 days; 22% had this experience for more than 7 days. National health goals are to improve mental health through prevention measures and by ensuring access to appropriate quality mental health services.

Bill McBreen, Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Winona State University states “We are very pleased to have the funding from HealthForce Minnesota to support development of the advanced practice nursing psych/mental health program. The Department of Nursing and the Graduate Nursing faculty at Winona State have a long history of responding to the health professions education needs of southeastern Minnesota. As with all our education programs, we be working closely with practicing mental health professionals throughout Minnesota to make sure our graduates are prepared to help address this critical area of need.”

Sonja J. Meiers, PhD, RN, Director of Graduate Nursing Programs at WSU Rochester, is the Principal Investigator in this grant and Dr. Diane Forsyth, a long-time member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association and researcher in psychiatric mental health care, will serve as lead graduate faculty member.

Meiers and Forsyth will convene advisory groups of leaders in clinical psychiatric mental health care, graduate nursing education, and diverse communities to guide development of a one-year full time graduate certificate program for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in Psychiatric Mental Health (PMH). The goal will be to admit an initial cohort of learners in summer, 2017. Applicants will be those nurses who hold a graduate nursing degree and want to be prepared as advanced practice prescribers.

Collaborators will follow recommendations of the Mental Health Workforce Plan developed through a HealthForce Minnesota initiative and reported to the Minnesota Legislature in January 2015.

HealthForce Minnesota, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, is a collaborative partnership of education, industry, and community that was designed to increase the number and expand the diversity of healthcare workers; to integrate health science education practice and research; and to build capacity for education and industry to collaborate to enhance care. The PMH APRN program will provide a MNSCU option for preparing additional qualified mental health primary care providers to meet current workforce demands.

Interested clinical providers of psychiatric mental health care (PMH), experts in provision of graduate PMH nursing education, and community leaders in diverse communities concerned about mental health care are invited to contact Meiers at for an initial meeting being scheduled for June 2016.


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