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November 19, 1997

Role of the Nurse Practitioner in Mental Health Services

Author Affiliations

New Beginnings Community Counseling Center Bronx, NY

JAMA. 1997;278(19):1571. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550190035035

To the Editor.  —Most mental health clinicians would agree with Ms Lamberg's1 view that an integrated approach of both medication and psychotherapy usually results in the optimal delivery of mental health services. However, one concept is erroneous and is in need of clarification: "Psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals trained to take a medical history and carry out a comprehensive medical differential diagnosis and evaluation both before developing a treatment plan and while conducting psychotherapy."Nurse practitioners in psychiatry are licensed independently by the state to diagnose and treat mental illness as well as to evaluate psychopathology and prescribe appropriate medications. Terms of practice are defined in a collaborative agreement with a psychiatrist. In addition, nurse practitioners in psychiatry also develop modalities to address patients' deficiencies with interpersonal skills and psychosocial or psychoeducational needs that may impair attaining wellness.