Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child/Adolescent Psychiatric & Mental Health


A Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child/Adolescent Psychiatric & Mental Health (PMHCNS) is an advanced nursing practitioner who participates in the care of children and adolescents with mental health-related problems.

Credentialing Organization

American Nurses Credentialing Center. You will be required to take a computer-based examination, the fee for which will depend on whether you are a member of the American Nurses Association or the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists.

Upon passing the examination, you will be given the following credential: PMHCNS-BC (Psychiatric/Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist-Board Certified). You’ll need to renew your certification after five years. Please apply to the American Nurses Credentialing Center at least three months before your current certificate expires.


Before being certified as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Child/Adolescent Psychiatric and Mental Health, you’ll need:

  • A current license as a registered nurse (RN). This license should either be issued by an official body in the United States or by a legally recognized licensing body elsewhere.
  • A degree on at least the Master’s level from an educational body accredited by one of these two bodies: the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on the Collegiate of Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • 500 or more hours as a clinical nurse specialist in child/adolescent psychiatric and mental health supervised by faculty as part of your degree program.
  • Course work in the following subjects:
    • advanced health assessment
    • advanced pathophysiology
    • advanced pharmacology
  • Clinical training in two or more forms of psychotherapeutic treatment.
two girls doing homeworkAbout the Certification Exam

The exam consists of 175 questions divided into eight domains:

  • Mental Health Science (21 questions or 14 percent of the test)
  • Advanced Practice Nursing (61 questions or 40.67 percent of the test)
  • Organization/Network/Health System (9 questions or 6 percent of the test)
  • Basic and Applied Science (24 questions or 16 percent of the test)
  • Research Priorities in Nursing (4 questions or 2.67 percent of the test)
  • Education (9 questions or 6 percent of the test)
  • Professional Attributes (19 questions or 12.66 percent of the test)
  • Community/Public Health (3 questions or 2 percent of the test).

Of these questions, 150 count toward the final score. (The remainder are questions being statistically tested for inclusion in future exams.)

CNS Certification Options