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UNF Announces Endowment For New Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program

Cyd Hoskinson

Jacksonville mental health providers want to make sure there are enough clinicians, so they're donating nearly $1 million to the University of North Florida to train psychiatric nurse practitioners.

The gift is for UNF’s new Mental Health Graduate Nursing Program.

Retired Navy nurse Catherine Riley is enrolled in the program.  She served in Afghanistan during the war and said trained counselors can make a world of difference to returning veterans.

Reconnecting with family can be difficult for veterans who may need help coping with changes in family dynamics, as well as “helping with depression and sadness," she said, and "allowing someone to understand their feelings.”

Pamela Chally, dean of UNF’s Brooks College of Health, said students will graduate from the program with a doctorate of nursing degree.

As nurse practitioners, she said, they’ll work with licensed psychiatrists to treat patients in a variety of settings, including emergency rooms and institutions.

“When you listen to stories where people talk about how long the wait is to be able to get in to see a psychiatrist or to be able to get the mental health care that they need,” Chally said, “it was so obvious to us that this was an area we could fill.”

The endowment for UNF’s new graduate nursing program comes from St. Vincent’s HealthCare, Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, Flagler Hospital, Mayo Clinic and Memorial Hospital.

The University of North Florida’s first class of mental health nurse practitioners is expected to graduate in 2019.

Reporter Cyd Hoskinson can be reached at and on Twitter at @cydwjctnews

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.