Steps to PMHS Certification
About this exam
The Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) exam validates the added knowledge, skills, and expertise of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in the early identification, intervention, and collaboration of care for children and adolescents with mental and behavioral health concerns.
PMHS certification does not replace primary APRN certification required for licensure.
Learn about the role and use the steps below to understand requirements, prepare, and apply.
You will need to meet the following 4 criteria to apply:
1. APRN license that is current, valid, unrestricted, and unencumbered
2. Certification in one of the following roles and population foci:
- Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Child/Adolescent Psychiatric & Mental Health CNS (PMHCNS-BC)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health NP [formerly Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP-BC)]
3. Clinical practice hours completed within the past 5 years:
- a minimum of 2,000 hours of pediatric developmental, behavioral, and mental health (DBMH) clinical practice experience (with or without preceptor) while holding an APRN license - consider using this tracking form to help you count hours
4. Education or CE completed within the past 5 years:
- either 30 hours of DBMH CE or 1 graduate level DBMH course of at least 2 credits
- Exam cost: $300 - Includes $130 nonrefundable registration fee.
- Re-exam cost: Free if you re-apply to take the exam in the next testing window. $225 (nonrefundable) if you test in a later window. Current PNCB eligibility criteria must be met when re-applying. See free retest details.
- Extension: $150 - Nonrefundable. See extension details.
After review of your complete application, PNCB will send you an Approval & Scheduling Notice. Depending on when your completed application is approved, it will include a May or November testing window in which to schedule your exam.
Payment accepted: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and ACH electronic check.
You must complete your exam application with all supporting materials within 12 months of initial receipt of payment, or your application will be cancelled and all fees forfeited. All fees are subject to change without notice.
After review of your complete application in Step 5, PNCB sends you an Approval & Scheduling Notice and a testing window in which to schedule and take your exam. Use this timeline to understand the process.
The exam is 2.5 hours and asks 150 multiple-choice questions based on categories in the content outline, an essential study reference. We offer these resources to help you prepare.
To apply for your exam:
- Log in or create a PNCB account here. In your portal under Navigation, select the Exam Applications link to find PMHS and complete the online portion of the application.
- Request supporting documents. Your application is not complete until your transcript(s) or any other needed documents (e.g., proof of certification) are received by PNCB. See transcript requirements and address.
- Submit eligibility documentation of an unofficial transcript of 1 graduate level DBMH course or CE certificates for 30 hours of DBMH CE.
Requesting ADA Act Special Accommodations? Note this on your application and promptly submit a completed Special Accommodations Form.
- Track your application status in real time to ensure that all necessary documents have been received and that your application is complete.
- When re-applying or requesting an extension, use the application link above. If unsuccessful, you receive 1 free retest in the next available testing window.
Don't forfeit fees! It's your responsibility to understand all exam policies, procedures, and requirements before you arrive to test. Download your PNCB Exam Candidate Handbook now.
PNCB does not schedule your exam for you. You will schedule with Prometric, a licensed testing center with over 300 locations. Once your application is complete, PNCB emails and mails your Approval & Scheduling Notice with a testing window. Promptly download your Eligibility Letter with instructions on how to schedule your exam, then set a date and time with Prometric. Learn how to schedule your exam plus tips on what to expect at the testing center.
You receive official results by email 2-3 weeks after testing. You also receive notification of your preliminary pass/fail status at the testing center immediately after completing the computer-based exam.
If you pass, you'll receive a wall certificate and materials to promote your PMHS credential.
Log in to My Documents for your wallet card.
Our suggestion is to always list your degree first, then licensure followed by certification. Should you have any awards or honors, these come last. Listing your highest degree first is fairly standard. If you have a non-nursing degree, this would come next then licensure. If you have multiple certifications, often people list the one earned first in the first position, and the one earned most recently in the final position.
Terry Moore, DNP, MPA, RN, CPNP-PC, PMHS
Let others know the value of your PNCB certification by wearing your lapel pin and introducing yourself as a PMHS to patients, their families, and peers. Mention your credential in your employer website's staff biography. If you want to use your PMHS credential when charting, be sure to check your employer's policy on doing so. The PMHS credential is federally trademarked and may only be used by those who earn and actively maintain their certification.
- Recertification is every three years, so start planning how you will fulfill requirements now. You will recertify between November 1 and January 31 prior to the expiration date on your online wallet card. Use your ReCErt Tracker any time of the year to archive contact hours and other activities. When you recertify, you can refer to your Tracker when filling out the application.
- See your PMHS Corner for resources, discounts, awards, and more.