Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health

Happy children laying in a circle in the grassThe pediatric behavioral and mental health (PBMH) 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, we aim to improve care by equipping you with specific pediatric behavioral and mental health care knowledge, skills and clinical practice experiences.

The PBMH specialty offers you 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 you 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.

  • Evidence-based practice highlighted throughout the matriculation

  • Spring start only

  • 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 we will work with you to find clinical training sites to allow you to potentially complete your practice hours close to home.

  • 8 credit hours

  • N523: Pediatric Behavioral Mental Health Assessment and Management I (Spring only)

  • N524: Pediatric Behavioral Mental Health Assessment and Management II (Summer only)

  • N525: Pediatric Behavioral Mental Health Assessment and Management - Clinical

Enrollment Options

The pediatric behavioral and mental health specialty is available to our 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.

If you are interested in adding this specialty to your academic plan, you 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. 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.


    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 a minimum of 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.

    Click on the video to learn more about the program.

    The Duke University School of Nursing Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health Specialty program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant# T94HP30869, Advanced Nursing Education Workforce. The information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government.

    Embracing Diversity For An Engaged Community

    Embracing diversity is a crucial component for engaging with students, faculty, and the world. We think of it as diversity with a global perspective. Creating a learning climate where creativity, robust yet respectful debate, and a genuine respect for others can flourish. Fostering international research collaborations, developing global health initiatives, and coordinating access to health care for under-served populations. Educating next-generation nurses for leadership and service in the global community.

    Diversity with a global perspective assures a warm welcome—not mere tolerance—for differences in national origin, race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or veteran status.

    We provide a safe haven where diversity can spawn intellectual engagement and collaborative partnerships.

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