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History of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

  • Late 19th Century: Reform movements for mental asylums lead to the beginning of the psychiatric-mental health nurse role
  • 1882: First training school for nurses in the psychiatric setting established by Edward Cowles at McLean Asylum in Massachusetts
  • 1913: Psychiatric nursing educational program is organized by nurses at Johns Hopkins University
  • Post WWI: National League for Nursing Education adds nursing in nervous and mental diseases to curriculum guides
  • 1920: First psychiatric nursing textbook, Nursing Mental Disease, is written by Harriet Bailey and published
  • 1944: American Psychiatric Association commissions Laura Fitzsimmons to evaluate psychiatric nursing educational programs
  • 1946: National Mental Health Act names psychiatric nursing as one of the 4 core mental health disciplines and includes funding to develop advanced educational programs for mental health nursing
  • 1950s: Process of deinstitutionalization of psychiatric care begins
  • 1952: Hildegard Peplau publishes Interpersonal Relations in Nursing
  • 1954: Hildegard Peplau establishes the first psychiatric nursing graduate program at Rutgers University
  • 1963: Community Mental Health Centers Act helps expand PMH-CNS practice into community and ambulatory care settings
  • 1963: First psychiatric-mental health nursing research journals are published
  • 1965: PMH-RN practice expands over next two decades due to the establishment of Medicare & Medicaid
  • 1973: American Nurses Association (ANA) publishes first issue of Standards of Psychiatric Nursing Practice and begins to certify PMH-RNs
  • 1974: First ANCC Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Exam is offered
  • 1986: American Psychiatric Nurses Association is founded
  • 1990s: Decade of the brain, recovery-oriented systems begin to gain traction
  • 2000: First ANCC Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Exam is offered
  • 2003: National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties releases the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Competencies
  • 2007: ANCC Logical Job Analysis of PMH-CNS and PMH-NP roles
  • 2008: Consensus Model for APRN Regulation – Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education
  • 2010: Institute of Medicine releases the Future of Nursing: Leading Change to Advance Health Report
  • 2014: Second edition of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice is published
  • 2017: ANCC administers the final PMH-CNS certification exam. Previously certified PMH-CNSs continue to practice

Adapted from Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing: Scope & Standards of Practice

One-to-One Nurse-Patient Relationship

Archived video from 1964

A Conversation with Hildegard Peplau

As interviewed by Claire Mintzer Fagin
October 1993 (44:08)

A Conversation with:

Shirley Smoyak, RN, PhD, FAAN

As interviewed by Teena McGuinness, PhD, CRNP, FAAN
August 2013

A Conversation with Grayce Sills, PhD, RN, FAAN

As interviewed by Jeanne Clement, EdD, APRN, PMHCNS- BC, FAAN
September 2012 (48:45)