December 16, 2022

FMU graduates first class of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

FMU graduates first class of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

During Friday night’s Commencement exercises, Francis Marion University graduated its first class of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners. This program is the newest in a growing list of advanced healthcare offerings available at FMU. The degree coursework is designed to prepare advanced practice registered nurses to be psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners across the lifespan in acute and non-acute settings.


The program began enrolling students in fall 2020 to meet the demand for psychiatric healthcare professionals across the Pee Dee region and the state.

These psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners will play a critical role in assessing and treating behavioral health issues across South Carolina, most especially in the Pee Dee Region,” said FMU President Fred Carter. “These well-educated graduates are prepared to tackle one of the most complex healthcare problems in this nation. We are so proud that they made this career choice. ”

Tanisha Tart was one of the first students to enroll in the program in fall 2020. Shortly after she began her career as an ICU nurse following her graduation with a BSN from FMU in 2018, she felt a strong urge to go into the psychiatric mental healthcare field. During her first semester in the program, a series of events in her personal life solidified her decision.


“No one is exempt from sadness, worry and anxiety, and during the first few months of the MSN program, I experienced great loss in my personal life with the passing of both my brother and my best friend. It was at this time that everything came full circle for me and I knew that these experiences would only help me to provide greater care to my patients in the years to come,” said Tart.


Tart will begin working in pediatric mental healthcare in the Pee Dee in the new year and credits FMU with creating this program that will bring much light to an underserved population in the region.


Ursula Townsend also enrolled in the program when it began just two short years ago. Townsend has spent nearly her entire career—over fifteen years—as a nurse working with patients in need of in-patient psychiatric care. She has seen firsthand the need for additional healthcare providers in this area and knew she wanted to enroll in the program as soon as it was announced. 


“When I first heard that Francis Marion was beginning a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. There is a critical need for this specialized type of provider in our area. This program has been tremendous in preparing me to provide a different level of care to patients,” said Townsend.  


As the first cohort of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners received their diplomas Friday night, a new class of competent and capable healthcare professionals are ready to enter the workforce and community, resulting in a vital boost in the availability of mental healthcare in the Pee Dee region.