UB Designs New Program to Meet Demand for Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

By Lois Baker

Release Date: October 31, 2003

BUFFALO, N.Y.--The University at Buffalo School of Nursing will inaugurate a new program in January to prepare nurses to be psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners, one of the most in-demand and financially rewarding of nursing specialties.

The program is one of only two offered in Western New York. Nationally, the number of such programs has nearly quadrupled since 1990, from 10 to 38 currently, according to program director Eris Perese, clinical associate professor in UB's nursing school.

"The psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner is one of the fastest growing professions within the mental-health care system," said Perese. "This is due to several factors: an increase in the incidence of mental illnesses such as depression, an increase in the number of people living longer and an insufficient number of physicians entering the field of psychiatry.

"Psychiatrists primarily provide care in private-practice settings or in teaching hospitals or institutions," Perese added. "There are not enough of them to meet the growing need for community-based, mental-health care provided in clinics, schools, day treatment centers, forensic settings and re