CPNP-ACs and the PMHS Exam

January 3, 2023

[Research Update] CPNP-ACs and the PMHS Exam

PNCB values the continued interest and support of the Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) exam. A growing number of Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioners - Acute Care (CPNP-ACs) have asked to take the PMHS exam. To explore these inquiries, CPNP-ACs were invited to participate in PNCB's 2022 PMHS Job Task Analysis Extension Study with our research consultant ACT. We thank the many CPNP-ACs who responded to the survey.
PNCB exams are accredited through an independent agency that sets standards of compliance for professional certification programs. Exam eligibility requires evidence of valid criteria, such as job qualifications and practice requirements which support the measurable outcome of an exam. PNCB has engaged in careful analysis of AC PNP practice to explore these requests. Our research is now complete, and we learned many things about how CPNP-ACs intersect with children who have developmental, behavioral, and mental health (DBMH) conditions. 
Through this study, PNCB found that practice patterns of CPNP-ACs were varied with respect to the performance of specific PMHS tasks, with evidence suggesting that as a population, the practice of CPNP-ACs is different than that of primary care PNPs. CPNP-ACs are primarily performing point-of-care management of DBMH concerns rather than engaging in evaluation, diagnosis, and ongoing management. The write-in responses captured within the survey corroborate this, indicating that that CPNP-ACs had knowledge gaps in DBMH diagnosis, assessment, prescribing, and treatment modalities. 
Based on the evidence and on their knowledge of acute care settings, the study’s Advisory Group members concluded that PMHS would not be an appropriate credential to offer CPNP-ACs. The data show that while CPNP-ACs do address some DBMH concerns in practice, their patient care has a different focus. 

  • CPNP-AC certificants remain ineligible for the PMHS exam. However,
  • PNCB has now moved to studying the feasibility of offering a competency program specific to CPNP-AC practice to support those who provide care for children with chronic, complex, or acute conditions overlaid with DBMH co-morbidities. We will keep you updated about developments for the feasibility study and its results. 

We know the need is great for pediatric DBMH care in any setting. Our goal is to explore if and how we can best meet that need—and yours—in the year ahead. 

Faces of Certification

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Tyneisha Orr, CPNP-PC Children's Hospital & Medical Center Omaha, NE
Amairani Jimenez, CPN Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu, Hawaii
Gia Nguyen, CPNP-AC St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Arlington, VA
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