Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Exam Review

The Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse certification indicates a level of specialization in providing nursing care to the patient with mental illness. This includes being aware of specific mental illness characteristics and monitoring the patient for treatment effectiveness and the risk of potential side effects of treatments.

In order to take the Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse certification exam, the applicant must be a licensed Registered Nurse with an Associate Degree or diploma from an accredited 2-year RN program. The RN must have worked at least 2 years in a full-time capacity as a psychiatric and mental health nurse, with at least 2,000 hours within the past 3 years. In addition, at least 30 hours of continuing education hours should have been completed in psychiatric and mental health nursing over the past 3years.

The Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse certification exam is offered throughout the year at testing centers across the United States. The RN has 90 days in which to take the exam after receiving the test admission ticket. The fee to take the exam is $230 for members of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and $370 for non-members.
The exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions with 25 of those questions used for pretesting purposes for possible use on future exams. The exam focuses on the characteristics that make up specific psychiatric diseases. Nursing interventions that can be performed with the psychiatric patient, especially evaluation psychosocial issues, are also included. Questions pertaining to patient and family education are also included, along with questions regarding frequent re-assessment of the psychiatric patient.

Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse certification is valid for 3 years. At the end of that time period, the licensed RN must have completed at least 1,000 hours of employment as a psychiatric and mental health nurse. In addition, at least 75 continuing education hours should have been completed or other educational activities should have been completed as outlined by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The fee for renewal is $160 for ANA members and $290 for non-members as long as the practice hour and continuing education hour requirements are met. For those who wish to retake the exam in order to recertify, the fee is $230 for ANA members and $370 for non-members.

For more information regarding the Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse certification for the Associate Degree or diploma RN, go to,, or

PMHN Certification Exam Prep

Nursing Certification Central

Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse (PMHN) Practice Questions

1. According to Havighurst's theory of adult development, middle age is characterized by:

  1. Managing a home and finding a congenial social group.
  2. Establishing ties with those in the same age group and adjusting to a decrease in physical strength.
  3. Establishing physical living arrangements that are satisfactory.
  4. Achieving civil/social responsibility and maintaining an economic standard of living.

2. Which of the following best describes Kolb's model of experiential learning?

  1. Knowledge develops from experience interacting with cognition and perception.
  2. Knowledge and experience are equally important.
  3. Experience precedes knowledge in learning.
  4. Learning cannot be acquired without experience and perception.

3. A 32-year-old woman with borderline personality disorder and a history of attempted suicide has been married for 8 years, and her husband is filing for divorce. She was found wandering in a state of confused panic about her neighborhood and brought to the ED. She feels extremely anxious and abandoned. Which initial intervention is appropriate for this emotional crisis?

  1. Stay with the patient and reassure her.
  2. Administer anti-anxiety medication.
  3. Provide positive reinforcement.
  4. Draw up a no-suicide contract.

4. A 45-year-old male is married with two children. He lost his job 6 months ago and has been unable to make house payments. He has become increasingly temperamental, has explosive outbursts of anger, and attacked his wife during an argument, hitting her in the face and throwing her against the wall. The type of emotional crisis he is likely experiencing is:

  1. Adventitious/Social.
  2. Situational/Dispositional.
  3. Maturational/Developmental.
  4. Psychopathological.

5. An 80-year-old woman has sudden onset of right-sided paresis, short-term memory loss, depression, right visual field defect, and mild expressive aphasia, indicating a possible stroke. The most likely part of the brain affected is the:

  1. Right hemisphere.
  2. Left hemisphere.
  3. Brain stem.
  4. Cerebellum.

Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse (PMHN) Answer Key

1. Answer: D

Havighurst's middle age tasks include achieving civic/social responsibility, maintaining an economic standard of living, raising teenagers and teaching them to be responsible adults, developing leisure activity, accepting physiological changes related to aging, and adjusting to aging of parents. Early adulthood tasks include finding a mate, marrying, having and children, managing a home, getting started in an occupation/profession, assuming civic responsibility, and finding a congenial social group. Older adulthood tasks include adjusting to a decrease in physical strength and health, death of a spouse, and life in retirement and reduced income, as well as establishing ties with those in the same age group, meeting social and civic obligations, and establishing satisfactory physical living arrangements.

2. Answer: A

Kolb's model of experiential learning is based on acquiring knowledge through grasping experience and transforming that experience into knowledge through cognitive processes and perception. Experience may be transformed into knowledge through abstract conceptualizing (analyzing, thinking), observation of others, or actively experimenting. This model stresses that the individual makes choices between the concrete and the abstract, and this is reflected in learning styles:

1. Diverging: Concrete experience and reflective observation
2. Assimilating: Abstract conceptualization and reflective observation
3. Converging: Abstract conceptualization and active experimentation
4. Accommodating: Concrete experience and reflective observation

3. Answer: A

The initial intervention for an emotional crisis reflecting psychopathology is to stay with the patient and reassure her until her panic subsides. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) feel insecure and inherently worthless. They are often erratic and have difficulty establishing long-term relationships, although symptoms tend to lessen with age. The main feature of BPD is a persistent pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotion. Two-thirds of those diagnosed are female. Characteristics include attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment and impulsivity in at least two areas.

4. Answer: B

Situational/Dispositional crises result from a response to an external stressor, such as the loss of a job, that leaves the person feeling helpless and unable to cope. Adventitious/Social crises result from natural disasters, violent crimes, acts of terrorism, or socially disruptive acts, such as rioting, over which a person has little control. Maturational/Developmental crises occur during major life transitions, such as getting married, leaving home, or having a child. Psychopathological crises result from a preexisting psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia.

5. Answer: B

Left hemisphere strokes are characterized by these symptoms. Right hemisphere strokes result in left paralysis or paresis and a left visual field deficit. Fine motor skills may be impacted, resulting in trouble dressing or handling tools. People may become impulsive, depressed, and exhibit poor judgment. They often deny impairment, and may have short-term memory loss, but language remains intact. Brain stem strokes may involve motor and/or sensory impairment and respiratory and cardiac abnormalities. Cerebellar strokes may result in ataxia, nausea and vomiting, headaches, and dizziness or vertigo.

Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse Exam Blueprint and Breakdown


Last Updated: 04/18/2018

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