ROCHESTER, Minn. – April 21, 2017 – Winona State University – Rochester (WSU-R) will offer a new graduate certificate program in mental health with community needs at the center of this new program.

It all began with the announcement of a local psychiatric inpatient unit closing due to a lack of providers. Acknowledging this need for providers, WSU Dean of Nursing Bill McBreen worked with graduate faculty to determine how WSU-R could create a viable solution for the Rochester community.

Dr. Diane Forsyth, the Psychiatric-mental Health Graduate Education Coordinator, began to lay the groundwork for the new program.

“We received some start-up funding from HealthForce Minnesota, met with local providers to assess their needs, talked with current Nurse Practitioner students, and used this information to plan a PMHNP program at WSU,” said Dr. Forsyth.

Dr. Forsyth found that primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) are often limited in the care that they can administer because many patients also suffer from psychiatric problems like depression or anxiety. Due to their professional scope of practice, most NPs are unable to intervene with patients suffering from these complex psychiatric issues.

The first cohort to be admitted in 2017 will be comprised of persons who already hold a primary care nurse practitioner certification.

“The program is planned initially as a post graduate certificate program. This means that current primary care nurse practitioner (NP) providers return for a 15-month program to gain needed psychiatric-mental health skills to ‘add onto’ their current NP background,” said Dr. Forsyth.

The new program is flexible, allowing students to complete their supervised clinical hours near their homes. The online program has a required three-day on-campus orientation beginning May 30 to June 1, 2017.

Applications for the Psychiatric-mental health Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate Program are being accepted up until May 5, 2017.

The WSU-R graduate nursing program is committed to ensuring students have the highest levels of training and education through our comprehensive programs and committed graduate nursing staff. For more information about enrolling in the PMHNP, visit: or call Samantha Eckerson (507)-535-3980.