The Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)

Role, settings & ethics

Learn how PMHSs strengthen care to children and families experiencing developmental, behavioral, and mental health care concerns

A special testing window is in effect for the PMHS Exam 10/15/2021-11/15/2021. Apply now through 10/1/2021. Scores will be held for a routine validation process; PNCB anticipates releasing results by email 6-8 weeks after the window closes November 15th. Learn more. In 2022 and beyond, more testing windows per year will be available for your convenience!

The PMHS Role

The PMHS exam addresses the need to strengthen care to children and families experiencing developmental, behavioral, and mental health care (DBMH) concerns.

After a thorough role delineation study, PNCB developed the Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) exam to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills and abilities of the eligible PNP, FNP, PMHNP, and CNS who:

  • Is experienced in early identification and intervention for DBMH concerns typically seen in primary care.
  • Assesses, diagnoses, and manages DBMH concerns. When needed, these providers also help patients and their families manage these concerns until specialized care is available.
  • Plays a role in collaboration and coordination of care with other professionals in medical and educational settings.


Holding the PMHS credential communicates to families and patients that an expert is ready to help and:

  • Opens access to care in the medical home.
  • Increases patient and family confidence.
  • Shows commitment to added expertise.
  • May add value for your practice.


The Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) builds upon the NP or CNS role to provide advanced assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and management of common DBMH conditions in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Therapeutic services include early recognition, intervention, and active monitoring as well as appropriate referral for complex disorders. Health care services are evidence-based and include the use of DBMH screening tools and psychotherapeutic, educational, as well as psychopharmacological therapies and interventions. The PMHS coordinates care and collaborates with professionals to enhance the quality of DBMH services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families/caregivers.

Watch this video to learn more about those who have obtained the unique PMHS credential and the value it has added to their practice in I am a PMHS Success Stories.

PMHS Practice Settings

PMHS practice settings may include pediatric primary care, family practice, school-based clinics, and developmental or other specialty services.

Watch this video to hear PMHSs in a variety of settings describe their practice.

PNCB Certificant Code of Ethics

To support excellence in nursing practice, the PNCB assumes that every nurse certified by this organization will uphold and adhere to the Certificant Code of Ethics.


Joint Statement of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) and PNCB regarding PMHS certification.

Faces of Certification

PNCB-certified nursing professionals work in a variety of roles and settings throughout the US and beyond. Share your photo today!

Kylie Arey, CPNP-PC, CPN Northern Kentucky Pediatric Group Wilder, KY
Michael Maymi, CPNP-AC UF Health Gainesville, FL
Amber Lewis, CPN Children's Hospital, New Orleans New Orleans, LA
View more Faces of Certification