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New TAMIU, UT Health Partnership to Address Critical Shortage of Psychiatric Nurses Posted: 3/01/18

New TAMIU, UT Health Partnership to Address Critical Shortage of Psychiatric Nurses


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A partnership between Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and The University of Texas Health Science Center, now called UT Health San Antonio, will offer a new certificate nursing program that can begin to address the severe shortage of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners in South Texas, officials say.

Dr. Glenda Walker, TAMIU Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and its Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing, said the idea for the program was driven by critical need and quantifiable data.

“Very simply put, the overwhelming need for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in South Texas is stunning.  In Webb County, an area of over 3,300 square miles, and over 269,721 people, there is one mental health provider for every 6,479 residents.  In Jim Hogg and Starr Counties, the numbers are equally grim:  one mental health provider for every 2,633 Jim Hogg residents, and one mental health provider for every 1,832 Starr County residents.  In Zapata County, some 1,058 square miles in size, and with over 14,374 residents, there is not a single mental health provider. Further exacerbating that need is that in many counties, such as Webb and Zapata, over 40 percent of residents are primarily Spanish speakers, adding another potential barrier to quality patient treatment,” Dr. Walker explained.

Walker said TAMIU joined forces with UT Health, a champion in health education in South Texas.

Dr. Eileen T. Breslin, dean of the School of Nursing at UT Health, said, “We are pleased to work with TAMIU to provide advanced education to nurses in this region. As one of only a few nursing schools in Texas to offer this certificate, we will offer six prospective students, identified by TAMIU faculty, the opportunity to enroll in our Post-Graduate Certificate Program for Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. With this certificate, our graduates will be qualified to offer leading-edge mental health care services in diverse settings in this underserved area.”

The partnership hopes to recruit, enroll and educate a closed cohort of six nurse practitioners from Webb and surrounding counties into the UT Health Post-Graduate Certificate Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Program. The Program includes 23 course hours, and 600 clinical hours at four approved regional clinical supervision sites.

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed by TAMIU and UT Health representatives earlier this month. The PMHNP Program will begin in Spring 2019.

TAMIU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Tom Mitchell, said the two universities’ working together attests to the urgency of need.

“This is what universities do best:  We provide the educational opportunities that can address the needs of our city, region, state, nation and world.  Having two universities join forces for this Program underscores the urgency for this need to be addressed,” Dr. Mitchell said.

María A. Sánchez, executive director of the Border Region Behavioral Health Center in Laredo, affirmed the need for the program and its importance.

 “There is an incredible shortage of psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. This program will help to fill the gap. The PMHNP program would benefit Border Region Behavioral Health Center by our having the ability to recruit and retain graduates of the program. This program adds value when serving an ever-growing client population that suffers from mental illness and other behavioral health disorders,” Sánchez said.

The Canseco School of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner program (MSN-FNP) and a Master of Science in Nursing Administration (MSN-ADM) focused on the critical role of Nursing in Health Care Management.  A Baccalaureate Nursing Program is also available.

The Canseco School has been nationally ranked as one of the best in the Central US by Nurse Journal ORG.

For additional information on the PMHNP delivered by TAMIU and UT Health San Antonio, please contact Dr. Marivic Torregosa, director of Graduate Programs for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing, at (956) 326.2456, email or visit offices in Dr. F. M. Canseco Hall, suite 312. Program information is also available online.

More on TAMIU is available at, and on the University’s social media sites on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, with missions of teaching, research and healing, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities and is now called UT Health San Antonio™.  UT Health’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 33,000 alumni who are advancing their fields throughout the world. With seven campuses in San Antonio and Laredo, UT Health San Antonio has a FY 2018 revenue operating budget of $838.4 million and is the primary driver of its community’s $37 billion biomedical and health care industry. For more information, visit


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