This post outlines what I think would be the most ideal curriculum for a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program, and includes a list of books that lead to a justifiable shopping spree on Amazon. This blog is NOT a critique or commentary on the current state of PMHNP programs but rather written just for fun... yes, developing an imaginary curriculum is fun for Melissa DeCapua.
Foundations in Psychopathology
So it begins.
Psychiatry & Philosophy of Science
Ready to dive into psychiatry phenomenology, taxonomy, & nosology? Let's start with a class that explores the psychiatry's philosophy of science and attempts to truly define mental disorder. You won't be bored as you learn about famous publications like The Myth of Mental Illness or Being Sane in Insane Places.
History of Psychiatry
While history at times can be dry, I think it is of the utmost importance. How can you practice without a historical perspective of what you're practicing? When you work in a field as contested as ours (don't believe me? check out CCHR website) you need perspective. While trying not to sound cliche, I must quote George Santayana, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Legal, Ethical, and Forensic Issues in Psychiatry
I think this course has the potential to be absolutely fascinating! Don't believe me? Read one forensic psychiatry case study and tell me you aren't hooked!
My real-life master's program had one neuroscience course that included both foundational knowledge and psychopathogenesis. In this world of utopian curriculums, I think there should be two courses: Behavioral Neuroscience and Neurobiology of Mental Illness. That way, the behavioral course can focus on neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and the biological basis of behavior (sleep, pain, reproduction, eating, etc.), while the neurobiology course can delve into the genetics/epigenetics, neuroimaging, and suspected pathophysiology of each mental illness.
Theory of Personality
Mmm! If this class doesn't get you excited, nothing will! This is the topic that got me into psychiatry. Simply irresistible. (I recommend clicking that link and listening while you finish this post).
Neurobiology of Mental Illness
I have been absolutely dying to read the 4th edition of this Neurobiology of Mental Illness. Check out the preview on Google... It looks fascinating. I have a copy of the 2nd edition from 2005. It can be somewhat difficult to read at times, but as long as you go slow and look things up you don't understand, this is an AWESOME book. I have not read Biological Psychiatry myself unfortunately. The preview on Google does look promising. Has anyone else read this? Please let me know what you think.
Can't argue with this one. Side note: Prescribing Mental Health Medication: The Practitioner's Guide is suburb. Hands down, best practical guide to psychotopics. And, BONUS, the author's wife is an advanced practice nurse so he uses very inclusive language throughout the book. It's not your typical American Psychiatric Association publication that doesn't yet acknowledge the fact that non-physicians use their textbooks.
Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
An entire course dedicated to this population! Who's with me?!
Another side note: Clinical Geriatric Psychopharmacology, although published in 2004, is still hands-down the best psychopharm book for older adults. You can't convince me otherwise. :)
I worked on a consultation-liaison team and have written blog posts in the past about this profound learning experience. Psychiatrists have the option of completing a fellowship in psychosomatic medicine. I could easily teach an entire class on this topic! Wouldn't that just be AMAZING?!
No arguing. This is a must-have class in my Utopian Curriculum. These patients are tough to handle. As PsychNPs, it is our job, yes OUR job to not only care for these individuals but to help other providers caring for these individuals. Knowledge breeds understanding and understanding breeds compassion. Personality Disorders in Modern Life is INCREDIBLE.
Substance Use Disorders
And, of course, adequate training in the therapies: individual, group, family, and couples.
So what did you think? Do you have any other ideas for classes? I am sure I forgot something. Comment below or email me!