The Effective Use of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses in Integrated Care: Policy Implications for Increasing Quality and Access to Care
In the last ten years primary care providers have been encouraged to implement integrated models of care where individuals' medical and mental health needs are addressed holistically. Many integrated models use Psychiatric Mental Health (PMH) nurses as case managers and select exemplars use PMH Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) as providers. However, the potential value of PMH nurses in integrated health care remains unrealized by health care planners and payers, limiting access to services for the populations most in need of comprehensive care approaches. This current situation is partially fueled by insufficient knowledge of the roles and skill sets of PMH nurses. In this paper, the PMH RN and APN skill sets are detailed, demonstrating how effective use of these nurses can further the aims of integrated care models. Finally, outlined are barriers and enabling factors to effective use of PMH RNs and APNs and attendant policy implications.