The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s coverage from the 2017 National Conference of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in Philadelphia. Our staff will be reporting live on the latest news and clinically relevant practice information from leading NPs in many specialty areas. Check back for ongoing updates from AANP 2017. 

Philadelphia—Increasing student exposure to mental health conditions leads to improved competency as nurse practitioners (NPs) in handling these conditions in a primary care setting, according to data presented at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) 2017 National Conference.

Nancy Edwards, PhD, ANP-BC, from the Purdue University School of Nursing, and colleagues conducted a gap analysis to compare their current curriculum to Population-Focused NP Competencies for Psychiatric Mental Health issued by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. Students were given a pre-test in their first semester, followed by integration of 22.5 hours of didactic content on mental health and 30 clinical hours involving mental health. Topics in the curriculum included attention-deficit disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, panic, depression, bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders, among others. At graduation, the study participants were given a post-test.

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The results included the post-tests of 43 adult-gerontology nurse practitioner students. The majority were white (37) and women (39). The researchers found that the participants’ diagnostic and treatment competency levels were higher in the post-test for depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and eating disorders, compared with levels from the pre-test.

“Enhancing didactic content and clinical experience led to an increase in perceived confidence in the NP graduate’s ability to handle common mental health concerns in a primary health care setting,” the researchers wrote.

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  1. Edwards N, Kersey S, Ross K. Promoting mental health care through enhancing mental health competencies. Presented at the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 2017 National Conference; June 20-25, 2017; Philadelphia.