Over the past several decades the field of nursing has continued to grow. Accompanying such growth has been a shift to specialization. While continuing to meet basic healthcare needs of patients, many nurses are now able to become competent in a particular and specialized form of nursing. The Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse (PMHN) exam offers such an opportunity. Administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the PMHN test is the final component of becoming a credentialed Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse. 
Those individuals wishing to take the test must meet certain requirements first. One must hold an active Registered Nursing license as well as a master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree from an accredited psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program. A minimum of 500 faculty supervised hours in the program must have been complete. Also, graduate level work in the following courses is necessary; advanced physiology/pathology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology along with clinical training. Any accredited nursing program that offers the Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse degree will be able to make sure that candidates are qualified to sit for the PMHN test.  If a candidate wishes to take the exam prior to conferral of their graduate degree they are able to do so as long as documentation proving all other eligibility requirements have been met. Due to these requirements all test takers must have already received their bachelor’s degree and be very close to earning their master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree. By passing the exam individuals are then able to receive their full certification as a Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse.  This exam occurs throughout the country and in recent years has seen a large increase in test-takers. Moreover, there are now numerous college and universities that offer graduate level training in this field. In each program students will sit for the PMHNE at the end of their studies. 
In order to sign up for this exam an individual must first create an account at the ANCC website. The exam is offered year round and once a person receives an Authorization to Test notice from the ANCC they are given a 90 day window to schedule an exam date with Prometric Testing.  If that 90 day window passes individuals have the one-time opportunity to request an additional 90 days to schedule. Please be aware that there is a fee to take this exam and it is based on your prior membership in several organizations. Members of the American Nurses Association can pay as low as $270 to sit for the exam, while members of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association will pay $290. Membership in the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses qualifies a person for a $340 fee. If an individual has no membership affiliation with any of those organizations then the test costs $395. For those who need to retest a mandatory 60 day wait period is in effect. Also, a candidate cannot take the exam more than 3 times during a 12 month period.  Accommodations for those with disabilities can be made, requests should be to the ANCC. They require documentation from a qualified healthcare professional attesting to your needs. The report should contain the specific diagnosis, recent evaluations, a description of the test-takers limitations, and recommendations for what measures are necessary to accommodate the individual during the test.
|Sections of the PMHN Test|
|PMHN Test Subject Areas||# of Questions||Percent|
Test takers must arrive at least fifteen minutes before the exam is scheduled to begin. For admission into the exam, each candidate must bring a valid driver's licence, state identification, passport, or U.S. military identification. All electronics, phones, snacks, drinks, calculators, paper, and books are prohibited in the testing center. The PMHN is a computer based exam, so all test takers will receive their results before they leave the testing center.
The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Exam is made up of 150 questions that cover five main domains of practice: Foundations, Assessment/Analysis, Planning, Intervention, and Professional Issues. In addition to the 150 questions, there will be 25 unscored pretest questions. These will be mixed into the exam, and can not be distinguished. The time allotted to complete all 175 questions is three and a half hours.
- Sample PMHN Exam Questions:
- The medication used to control cocaine craving during withdrawal is:
- A. Naloxone.
- B. Bromocriptine.
- C. Lorazepam.
- D. Sodium bicarbonate.
- In Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the stage in which the child or adolescent has a better understanding of cause and effect and a good ability to understand concrete objects and the concept of conservation is:
- A. Sensorimotor.
- B. Preoperational.
- C. Concrete operational.
- D. Formal operational.
- A patient refuses to participate in a group activity, stating, “I don’t want to do this!” When using the SOAP format, this statement would be documented in:
- A. Subjective.
- B. Objective.
- C. Assessment.
- D. Plan.
- Which of the following provides unit level data regarding psychiatric physical and sexual assaults to help determine the quality of nursing care?
- A. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
- B. National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI)
- C. National Death Index (NDI)
- D. MedlinePlus
- Which of the following tests is most accurate for determining acute changes in nutritional status to monitor dietary compliance for a patient with anorexia?
- A. Transferrin
- B. Total protein
- C. Albumin
- D. Prealbumin
- A 55-year-old patient with paranoid delusions had an admitting white blood cell (WBC) count with 6,000 WBCs, 4% bands, and 55% neutrophils. A second blood count was done when the patient became increasingly lethargic and refused to eat because “the food is poisoning me.” The follow-up blood count showed 15,00 WBCs, 10% bands, and 65% neutrophils. The most likely cause is:
- A. Bacterial infection.
- B. Viral infection.
- C. Dehydration.
- D. Allergic reaction.
This exam is scored using the Angoff Method. This includes a panel of experts in the field determining a minimum score that candidates must reach. The highest possible score on the ANCC scale is 500 and examines must achieve a score of 350 or high to pass the test. Individuals will receive their scores immediately after the test. Those individuals who fail the exam will receive a detailed report giving them feedback on their performance in each content area.
Please be aware that this exam is transitioning to a new format effective on October 25, 2014. The changes primarily affect the domains of practice that are included in the exam. For more on the changes please refer to the ANCC website. 
Answers to Sample Questions
1:B; 2:C; 3:A; 4:B; 5:D; 6:A;
- Nurse Credentialing 21 April 2014
- American Psychiatric Nurses Association 21 April 2014
- Testing Handbook 21 April 2014
- U.S. News & World Report 21 April 2014
- Lincoln Memorial University 21 April 2014
- Nurse Credentialing 21 April 2014
- PMHN Content Outline 25 June 2014
- Testing Handbook 25 June 2014
- Handbook 21 April 2014
- Exam Changes 21 April 2014