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New MU Program Addresses Shortage of Mental-Health Nurses

MU School of Nursing to increase number of child/family mental-health nurses

Sept. 22, 2008

Story Contact:  Emily Smith, (573) 882-3346,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Child Health Care Crisis Relief Act estimates that one-fifth of the nation’s children have a mental disorder; however, only one-third of these children receive professional mental health care. To address the shortage of mental-health nurses, the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing will offer a post-master’s certificate in child/family mental Health. Beginning spring semester 2009, the certificate program will train graduate students to provide mental health services to adults and children.  

“There is a great need to provide mental health services to children and families; this program aims to address that need by training more mental health nurses,” said Jane Bostick, associate teaching professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “Nurses will be trained to work with school counselors, teachers and parents to provide the appropriate services for children with mental health needs.”
The Bureau of Health Professions – part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – reported that only 5 percent of advance practice nurses were nationally certified in psychiatric mental health nursing in March 2004. In Missouri, only 27 advance practice nurses have certification in child/family mental health nursing.

HRSA awarded the nursing school a $370,000 grant to develop the certificate program. Previously, MU nursing students were certified to treat only adults. Bostick, director of the certificate program, said that many students requested child/family certification and said they would be interested in taking the required courses. 

“The goal of this program is to provide children with more complete care by increasing the number of family/child mental health nurses in Missouri and the United States,” Bostick said. “Many families rely on primary care physicians, school counselors and teachers to provide mental health services for their children, and children living in rural communities are especially vulnerable due to the shortage of healthcare providers.”

The post-master’s certificate will be offered to students at the MU campus and online through a distance mediated program. Students enrolled in the online course will not be charged out-of-state tuition, making the program affordable and accessible. The nursing school will collaborate with the MU College of Education to develop course offerings and faculty resources for the program. Bostick said the partnership will encourage relationships among nurse practitioners, school teachers and psychologists.