Select Page

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is offering new programs in response to shortages of mental healthcare professionals statewide and beyond.

In September, UW Oshkosh’s College of Nursing will launch an inaugural class of the new bachelor of science in nursing to doctor of nursing practice (BSN-DNP) psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) emphasis. In addition, a new post-graduate PMHNP certificate was created for current family nurse practitioners.

Bonnie Nickasch

“The number of PMHNP programs throughout the state is limited, with most centered around the Madison and Milwaukee areas, leaving northern Wisconsin lacking in educational options for psychiatric health providers. UWO is well-positioned to help fill the need throughout the Fox Valley, northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan,” said Bonnie Nickasch, director of the BSN to DNP-PMHNP program at UWO.

Many Wisconsin residents are unable to access care due to severe shortages of providers. Rural areas are hit hardest as both the general population and providers are spread out and the number of providers is particularly sparse.

Nickasch noted in 2022, more than 60 percent of psychiatric providers were age 55 or older. During the next 10 years, the number of psychiatric providers is expected to drop significantly because of retirements.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 20 percent of all people in the U.S.—roughly 67 million— are diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

“This does not include those with undiagnosed mental health conditions. We also know that the number of individuals struggling with mental health concerns has increased greatly since the start of the pandemic,” Nickasch said. “UWO is determined to respond to the increasing need by building the capacity of providers in our region who are specialize in mental health diagnosis and treatment.”

Nickasch is a dual certified family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with extensive experience working with patients who struggle with substance abuse. Shelley Strojny, a senior lecturer with the program, is a certified psychiatric nurse practitioner with extensive experience working with veterans. She specializes in working with children and adolescents.

The College of Nursing is accepting applications for its 74-credit (three years full-time or four years part-time) BSN to DNP-PMHNP emphasis. The program is geared to current registered nurses who wish to pursue doctorates to work as nurse practitioners in inpatient or outpatient behavioral health.

The PMHNP certificate program is designed for current family nurse practitioners seeking to expand their practice through dual certification. Accepted applicants will receive an individualized plan of study based on their professional experience. The 19-credit, post-graduate PMHP certification may be completed full-time within nine months or part-time over 21 months.  Those interested may send an email for more information.

Learn more: