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Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health Specialty


8 credit hours
Specialty course sequence begins in spring or fall

The pediatric behavioral and mental health specialty addresses the mental health care crisis that threatens children and adolescents across our country. As one of the first pediatric nursing specialty program of its kind in the nation, Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) aims to improve care by equipping students with specific pediatric behavioral and mental health care knowledge, skills and clinical practice experiences.

The PBMH specialty offers students the opportunity to gain advanced training in pediatric primary care as well as behavioral and mental health assessment and treatment, diagnosis and management.

Coursework and clinical experiences prepare graduates to serve in a variety of settings ranging from primary care practices, school-based health centers and pediatric specialty clinics as well as skills to address the healthcare needs in patients located in rural or underserved communities.


  • N523: Pediatric Behavioral Mental Health Assessment and Management I
  • N524: Pediatric Behavioral Mental Health Assessment and Management II
  • N525: Pediatric Behavioral Mental Health Assessment and Management - Clinical

Enrollment Options

The pediatric behavioral and mental health specialty is available to DUSON students who are preparing to become certified as a Pediatric or Family Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN).

The three-course specialty sequence is designed to educate emerging APRNs to provide skilled behavioral and mental health assessment, diagnosis and management in a variety of pediatric clinical settings and prepare graduates for Pediatric Mental Health Specialist certification. Certified APRNs who are currently practicing in clinical settings may wish to complete the PBMH Management I course (rather than the complete specialty sequence) to meet the preparation requirement for the Pediatric Mental Health Specialist certification.

DUSON students interested in adding this specialty to their academic plan must complete the Add a Specialty Form. This form must be submitted to the MSN Program Office via email (son‐ at least 10 days prior to the start of the semester. By adding this specialty, students may move from a part-time course load to full-time matriculation plan. There may be flexible matriculation options that could accommodate the needs of students wishing to maintain a part-time course load. DUSON students interested in taking one or more of the courses as an elective, should consult with their advisor.

Nurse practitioners with an MSN degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution and nurse practitioner students from other regionally accredited colleges or universities interested in taking any of the courses in this sequence, should contact Duke University School of Nursing Admissions via email ( to register as a non-degree seeking student.

Enrollment decisions are made by the lead faculty of the specialty based on space availability.


  • Evidence-based practice highlighted throughout the matriculation
  • Flexible start, either fall or spring semester
  • Full- or part-time matriculation plans available
  • All courses are taught by current PBMH practitioners in the field
  • All courses are distance-based and may include an on-campus intensive day
  • Clinical training component in pediatric behavioral and mental health settings - the initial training is offered in North Carolina at a specialized pediatric mental health facility - while DUSON will work with students to find clinical training sites to allow students to potentially complete their practice hours close to home.


The pediatric behavioral and mental health specialty also prepares graduates for the Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist certification exam offered by the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Graduates will have to complete up to 2,000 clinical hours before they are eligible to sit for the exam. For more information on the certification steps and exam requirements, visit

Learn more about our curriculum and matriculation plans.