The Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS)

Role, settings & ethics

Learn how PMHSs strengthen care to children and families experiencing developmental, behavioral, and mental health care concerns


Based on the executive order issued 3/23/2020 by the Governor of Maryland, PNCB’s physical office is closed. Staff are working remotely to continue to serve candidates, certificants, and employers. Please use email addresses listed here to contact us, and thank you for understanding that there may be some delay in our response. All online systems including certificant portals and the CE / Pediatric Updates marketplace are still available 24/7. PNCB exams are essential workforce exams per Prometric. Please check back frequently for updates here.

New Eligibility Timeframe
PNCB has expanded the timeframe in which required practice hours and CE/graduate coursework can be counted toward exam eligibility from 3 years to 5 years. See the eligibility page for details.

The PMHS Role

The PMHS exam addresses the need to strengthen care to children and families experiencing developmental, behavioral, and mental health care (DBMH) concerns.

After a thorough role delineation study, PNCB developed the Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) exam to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills and abilities of the eligible PNP, FNP, and CNS who:

  • Is experienced in early identification and intervention for DBMH concerns typically seen in primary care.
  • Assesses, diagnoses, and manages DBMH concerns. When needed, these providers also help patients and their families manage these concerns until specialized care is available.
  • Plays a role in collaboration and coordination of care with other professionals in medical and educational settings.

Joint Statement of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) and PNCB regarding PMHS certification.

Holding the PMHS credential communicates to families and patients that an expert is ready to help and:

  • Opens access to care in the medical home.
  • Increases patient and family confidence.
  • Shows commitment to added expertise.
  • May add value for your practice.


The Pediatric Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PMHS) builds upon the NP or CNS role to provide advanced assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of common DBMH problems in children and adolescents.

Therapeutic services include early recognition, intervention, and active monitoring as well as appropriate referral for complex individual and family mental health disorders. Health care services are evidence-based and include the use of DBMH screening tools, brief psychotherapeutic interventions, and psychopharmacology. The PMHS coordinates care and collaborates with others to enhance quality DBMH services for children and families.

Watch this video to learn more about those who have obtained the unique PMHS credential and the value it has added to their practice in I am a PMHS Success Stories.

PMHS Practice Settings

PMHS practice settings may include pediatric primary care, family practice, school-based clinics, and developmental or other specialty services.

Watch this video to hear PMHSs in a variety of settings describe their practice.

PNCB Certificant Code of Ethics

To support excellence in nursing practice, the PNCB assumes that every nurse certified by this organization will uphold and adhere to the Certificant Code of Ethics.

Faces of Certification

PNCB-certified nursing professionals work in a variety of roles and settings throughout the US and beyond. Share your photo today!

Clayton Collins, CPN Shriners Hospitals for Children - Galveston Galveston, TX
Leticia Cole, CPNP-PC, CPN Sniffles & Giggles Waxahachie, TX
Renee Flippo, CPNP-PC Louise Herrington School of Nursing | Baylor University Dallas, TX
View more Faces of Certification