New Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at MCPHS University School of Nursing

2adultmentalhealthThe MCPHS University Graduate Nursing Studies is proud to announce the new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track (PMHNP). This nurse practitioner track is in addition to the Family Nurse Practitioner track that began in 2009. The PMHNP track is fully online and recently welcomed its inaugural cohort in May 2016.


The addition of the PMHNP specialty courses will build upon our existing successful FNP core curriculum program, and provide a timely and resourceful response to a growing market. Our central location, flexible online class schedules, and established networks of preceptors and healthcare agencies will conveniently accommodate practicing nurses to engage with the program while maintaining their RN employment. At the center of the MCPHS Graduate Nursing Studies is an active, collaborative relationship between the School of Nursing and community based mental health programs, state hospitals, and current practitioners within the mental health field. Changes in the structure of how mental health care is being delivered are resulting in a significant projected growth in employment opportunities for PMHNP. In a recent survey of 20 NP programs, it was reported that PMHNP graduates have no difficulty securing jobs with nearly 100% employed upon graduation (


Graduates of the PMHNP track will meet the requirements of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and will be eligible to take the PMHNP certificate examinations and will be equipped to expand their role to include the use of evidence-based practice, health policy, leadership, education, case management, and consultation (ANCC).


On average, the PMHNP salaries are between $69,989 to $121,235, with a median annual average salary of $91,106.


Claros (1)Dr. Edith Claros, PMHNP Track Coordinator & Associate Professor, explains, “This is an excellent time to become a PMHNP. The prospects of PMHNPs include autonomy, high job demand, opportunity to open own practice, higher income and benefits. According to the AANP, nurse practitioners have prescriptive authority in all 50-states in the U.S.. Forbes has also ranked nurse practitioners as one of the top-paying jobs for women. continues to include nurse practitioners as one of the most sought after jobs and the best compensated in the country.” Please continue below to read more about the PMHNP.


What is a PMHNP?

A PMHNP is an advanced practice registered nurse trained to provide a wide range of mental health services to patients and families in a variety of settings. PMHNP’s diagnose and treat acute, episodic, or chronic illness, independently or as part of a wider healthcare multidisciplinary team. They conduct therapy, and prescribe medications for patients who have psychiatric disorders, medical organic brain disorders, or substance abuse problems. They are licensed to provide emergency psychiatric services, psychosocial and physical assessment of their patients, treatment plans, and manage patient care.


PMHNPs also serve as consultants or educators for family and staff. The PMHNP has a focus on psychiatric diagnosis, including the differential diagnosis of medical disorders with psychiatric symptoms, and on medication treatment for psychiatric disorders.


Recent Trends:

Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicate that the current state of mental health disorders in the United States is common, with over 18% adults (18 years and older) having a mental illness in a given year. Common problems include addictive disorders and depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression affects nearly 25% of the U.S. population and estimated to be the second leading cause of disability, trailing heart disease, by the year 2020. It is also estimated that nearly 25% of the elderly population are affected by depression, psychosomatic disorders, adjusting to aging, anxiety that often goes unnoticed, undiagnosed, or underserved. Compounding the problem of mental illness is the associated stigma, shortage of mental health providers, reimbursement disparity, fragmentation of care and quality, to name a few. Many people afflicted with mental health problems do not receive proper follow-up, or are reluctant to seek care due to the lack of access to mental health providers, oftentimes having to wait weeks or months for an appointment.



PMHNP Outlook

The outlook has never been better for nurse practitioners! Healthcare employment is projected to outpace every other economic section through 2020, and nurse practitioners play a large part. With over 155,000 practicing nurse practitioners in the workforce today, there continues to be a need for nurse practitioners to provide primary care services.


PMHNP were among the top four most-in-demand NP specialties in the first nine months of 2013, according to a November 2013 article on the HealtheCareers Network website. The other specialties in the top four were family medicine, general medicine, and internal medicine. The ongoing shortage of primary care physicians – which includes the psychiatrist who provides primary mental health care – is probably increasing job openings for NPs, according to HealtheCareers Network. Physician recruiting firm, Merritt Hawkins, reports demand for adolescent and child psychiatric services is expected to increase by 100-percent between 1995 and 2020. Merritt Hawkins also reports psychiatry was the third most-request specialty in its 2012-2013 recruiting searches.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2013 indicates that the national demand for PMHNP will exceed 36% between 2012 and 2022, a significantly faster rate than for any other health profession group. They identify New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts as the top five lead employers for the PMHNP. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring an expected growth in demand for mental health (MH) services, as over
62.5 million Americans from relatively high-need populations will be newly eligible for MH benefits. The supply of MH care provider services is expected to decrease by 18% to 21%, and the ACA funding does not demonstrate the ability to increase turnout of
psychiatrists sufficiently to meet the needs, hence the time to provide a cost effective and efficient way of preparing the future mid-level care providers to meet the MH needs of a growing market is right (Pearlman, 2013).



Apply to our program

MCPHS University awards the Master of Science in Nursing degree and also the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (for nurses who already hold an MSN).

Social Media Refresher

Using Social Media

Social networks and the internet provide unparalleled opportunities for rapid knowledge exchange and dissemination among many people, but this exchange does not come without risk. Nurses and nursing students have an obligation to understand the nature, benefits and consequences of participating in social networking of all types. Online content and behavior has the potential to enhance or undermine not only the individual’s nursing career, but also the nursing profession.

American Nurses Association Principles for Social Networking

  1. Nurses must not transmit or place online individually identifiable patient information.
  2. Nurses must observe ethically prescribed patient-nurse boundaries.
  3. Nurses should understand that all patients, colleagues, institutions, and employers may view postings.
  4. Nurses should take advantage of privacy settings and seek to separate personal and professional information online.
  5. Nurses should bring content that could harm a patient’s privacy, rights or welfare to the attention of appropriate authorities.
  6. Nurses should participate in developing institutional policies governing online conduct.

(ANA, 2011)

6 Tips to Avoid Problems

  1. Remember that standards of professionalism are the same online as in any other circumstance.
  2. Do not share or post information or photos gained through the nurse-patient relationship.
  3. Maintain professional boundaries in the use of electronic media. Online contact with patients blurs this boundary.
  4. Do not make disparaging remarks about patients, employers, or co-workers, even if they are not identified.
  5. Do not take photos or videos of patients on personal devices, including cell phones.
  6. Promptly report a breach of confidentiality or privacy.

Worcester: White Breakfast

On Friday, May 2, 2014, graduates celebrated the White Breakfast with faculty and staff on the Worcester campus.  The White Breakfast was held in the Fuller Conference room with views of the city of Worcester.  Our guest speaker for the event was Robert Ready RNC, MN, CPEN, NEA-BC, Senior Director of Professional Development Practice at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester.  Mr. Ready’s comments positively affected all that were in the room. He spoke of the role of the professional nurse which includes the qualities of caring and compassion for those you come in contact with whether patient, family member or other health care professional.  In addition to Mr. Ready, Peg Johnson, Senior Vice-President and Chief of Staff for the Office of Advancement awarded Amy Lane, with the Academic Achievement Award.

The event culminated with pinning, awards and the honor society induction.  Award recipients included; White Coat Award-Courtney Greenawalt, Florence Nightingale Award-Lina Sanchez, Commitment to Service Award-Adam Aisner.  The honor society inducted 14 students.

Special thanks to the Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs for sponsoring a wonderful brunch.


Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing

Bonnie White MSN, RN, CCM

It’s official!  MCPHS University School of Nursing was recently approved as a chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.  The mission of the Honor Society is advancing world health and celebrating nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service.  Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) recognizes superior achievement and leadership qualities, fosters high professional standards, encourages creative work, and strengthens commitment to the ideals and purposes of the profession.

The chartering ceremony and first induction of members to the Chi Theta chapter of STTI will take place on Friday August 1, 2014 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the ballroom at MCPHS University, 10 Lincoln Street, Worcester.  Membership to STTI is by invitation to baccalaureate and graduate nursing students who demonstrate excellence in scholarship, and to nurse leaders exhibiting exceptional achievements in nursing.

Student Membership Criteria

Baccalaureate students

  • Have completed ½ of the nursing curriculum
  • Achieve grade point average of 3.0 or higher
  • Rank in the upper 35 percentile of the graduating class
  • Meet the expectations of academic integrity

Graduate students

  • Have completed ¼ of the nursing curriculum
  • Achieve a grade point average of 3.5 or higher
  • Meet the expectation of academic integrity

Invitations to join STTI will be mailed to eligible students in June. Mark your calendars and save the date for the chartering ceremony and induction to Chi Theta on August 1st.  Please plan to attend and join MCPHS School of Nursing in celebrating scholarship and excellence in nursing.

Tobacco Use and Health: Fifty Years Since…

Edith Claros, PhD, MSN, RN
Assistant Dean & Associate Professor

Fifty years ago the Surgeon General released its report, Smoking and Health, which linked cigarette smoking with lung and laryngeal cancer.  The report generated much media attention and caused Congress to adopt the Federal Cigarette Labeling Act requiring that a health hazard warning label be included in all cigarette packages as well as the banning of cigarette advertisements.  Much progress has been made in the last half century regarding regulations of tobacco control.  For example, images of smoking as a pleasant pastime in the American life has been largely transformed to a downcast activity that threatens personal and public health.  No longer are public places such as restaurants, bars, government buildings, workplaces among many others a place to socialize and smoke.   Since the initial report more than 20 million Americans deaths have been associated to smoking.  However, researchers are now adding a list of other diseases that can be caused by smoking such as development of diabetes, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, erectile dysfunction, ectopic pregnancy, impaired fertility, weakness of the immune system, rheumatoid arthritis and second-hand smoking consequences associated with stroke for the non-smoker.  Although adult smoking rates have dropped in the last fifty years, smoking continues to represent a significant concern for public health.  Each day more than three thousand young people (younger than 18) smoke cigarettes for the first time; and more than two thousand youth and young adults advance their smoking habit to daily use. In the United States there are currently 45 million smokers.

The engineering and manufacturing of cigarettes have also changed in the past fifty years. The composition of the cigarette has more reconstituted tobacco, which makes it easier for the addition of chemicals and the inclusion of leaf stems and dust that otherwise would have been discarded years ago allowing for less tobacco to be used in each cigarette. Today, more than seven thousand chemical compounds including additives are included in cigarettes making it easier to inhale into the lungs and reaching the brain faster. The rapid delivery of nicotine from the lungs to the brain is the reason for their high addictiveness. At least 70 of these chemicals are known to be specifically carcinogens.  Even though a smoker today may consume fewer cigarettes than that half a century ago, the changes in design and composition of cigarettes have increased health risks resulting in higher lung cancer risks and development of other diseases. Despite the drop in cigarette use, smoking continues to be a large cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S.

New emerging novel and smokeless tobacco products (and the ‘e-cig’) make it for a more complicated issue because they are promoted to be safer alternatives leading to the general misperception that smokeless tobacco are less harmful.  A similar strategy was used in the promotion of light and low-tar cigarettes during the 1970s.  Novel tobacco products are sold nationwide, have the appearance of candy that is similar in size and shape as Tic-Tacs and M&Ms; and come in the form of lozenges that include natural wintergreen or java flavoring.  They also come in dissolvable strips or sticks with variable amounts of nicotine depending on the manufacturer.   Other novel types include Snus, a tobacco tea-bag-like pouch or sachet that is placed between the cheeks and the teeth.  The use of these products is prevalent among the youth.  The electronic cigarette does not contain tobacco but rather heats up liquid nicotine vaporizing it for inhaling and exhaling. The long term effect of these products is not yet known and there is no evidence that the products are safer as current research, particularly long-term studies, are lacking.  The youth and children are most vulnerable to the risks of nicotine poisoning if consumed as candy.


For decades the tobacco industry has encouraged children to smoke by creating products and making images that are appealing to children.

In light of the drop of smoking prevalence among adults, advances in public health, and federal regulations of tobacco, cigarette smoking alone still accounts for approximately 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States.  Tobacco use is a major preventable cause of disease and mortality worldwide.  Reduction of cigarette smoke represent the largest opportunity to prevent nearly a third of the cancer related morbidity and mortality.  Policy has an important influence on smoking cessation as well as initiation.  The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed into law in 2009 gives the FDA power to regulate the tobacco industry. As health care professionals we can influence health by influencing policy and advocating for funding of programs that have proven success in deterring smoking, making cigarettes less accessible to minors, and less attractive.  Nurses and other health care providers can work collaboratively to assist those who want to stop smoking by providing them with links to available and affordable smoking cessation resources. The CDC offers a variety of resources for health care providers.  The mnemonic MPOWER illustrates:

Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies

Protect people from tobacco smoke

Offer help to quit tobacco use

Warn about the dangers of tobacco

Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

Raise taxes on tobacco (tobacco taxes are an effective element of a broad tobacco control program).


Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Smoking and Tobacco Use.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014 Surgeon General’s Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 years of Progress.


Welcome Prof. Christopher Smallwood

Professor Christopher Smallwood moved from Philadelphia and joined MCPHS University full-time in May 2014 in the School of Nursing.  Prior to teaching, he practiced with the largest medical center in the world – The Texas Medical Center – in the realm of neurotrauma intensive care.  He earned his MSN from the University of Texas at El Paso, BSN from Slippery Rock University, and ADN from Bucks Community College. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Taylor and is expected to earn his degree in September 2014.


Professor Smallwood’s teaching focus are research methods, scholarship, informatics, and advanced medical-surgical nursing.  His research focus is currently related to bridging gaps between theoretical knowledge and application by increasing engagement in online nursing education.Finally, his scholarly interests are in LGBT health disparities, theory development, promoting social justice and well-being, men’s health, risky sexual beahviors in adolescence, mixed methods design, neurotrauma and neurosurgical nursing, global health disparities, and engagement in virtual environments.


Professor Smallwood’s home campus is Boston and his office is G307.

Faculty spotlight: Professor Joanna Bachour

I am a Registered Nurse with 9 years of clinical experience in various settings including medical-surgical, operating room, orthopedics, and ambulatory care. I graduated with my ADN from Quinsigamond Community College, BSN from Worcester State University, and MSN from Framingham State University.

I worked as an OR nurse for 5 years and absolutely loved it.  Being in the operating room assisting with surgery truly brings Anatomy & Physiology to life. Removing cancer from a patient is so rewarding!  In my last clinical role, I was the Nurse Navigator for the Orthopedic Department at UMass Memorial.  It was a new position that I helped develop.  I really enjoyed this role having had previous experience with joint replacement patients post-op and during surgery.  The Nurse Navigator role allowed me to be involved as the go-to for the patient and family from the moment they decided to have a joint replacement, teaching the pre-op patient education class, during their hospital stay post-operatively, and following up with them post discharge.  It was rewarding because you saw first-hand the transformation before, during, and after their surgery.

Academic experiences include the Role of Assistant Professor/Lab Manager in the post-baccalaureate nursing program at MCPHS University in Worcester teaching Skills & Technology and Lab, Nursing Informatics, and Provider I.

Life is not all work and no play.  I have a 15-month old beautiful baby girl that is my world!  Who knew a tiny little person could bring so much joy!  When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with family, traveling (especially outside the country), spending the day at the beach, and lots of retail-therapy!  For the past 14 years since moving here from Florida, I have made it a point to attend at least one country concert a year, keeping my Florida country music roots alive!

I have enjoyed teaching and the students this past year at MCPHS University and a very excited as the new academic year begins to unfold!

~Prof. Joanna Bachour MSN, RN


Service Trip to the Dominican Republic

Heather Foley, Student Nurse – Boston ’16


Nursing Student Heather Foley traveled to the Dominican Republic this spring to volunteer at the Santa Cruz Elementary School and visit the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance.  Heather is a new Transfer Student into the MCPHS-Boston BSN Program and hopes to become a Family Nurse Practitioner working in Spanish-speaking communities.  She is incredibly interested in combining her academic interests in advanced practice nursing, public health education, and Latin American studies.  Heather’s love for the Spanish language has also taken her to Spain, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Mexico.  The focus of her undergraduate thesis was on vaccine-preventable diseases among pediatric populations in Peru and her graduate dissertation at Harvard University (Class of 2014) focused on 21st century, Mexican reproductive health laws.





Photos _ Dominican Republic


Boston: Cultural Competence in Nursing



On Wednesday, June 25, the seniors on the Boston campus will hear a presentation from Joseph Winn, MSW, LICW, CST, regarding cultural competence and barriers to health care for LGBT patients.


Winn is a graduate of Boston University School of Social Work and has focused on adolescent mental health and forensic issues, the impact of poverty, racism and community violence, community mental health, HIV and AIDS. For more information on his credentials and about his work, please visit