The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program supports students’ goal of providing more compassionate care

Aspiring Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Hiba Masood works at the Population Health Center’s Behavioral Health Center.

Aspiring psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner Hiba Masood intends to use the power of education to combat misinformation about substance use disorders.

Hiba Masood, a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) student, has found her true calling to enter the field of psychiatry amid the pandemic. The advent of COVID-19 has led to an increase in psychiatric illnesses and the incidence of fatal overdoses. Unfortunately, it also coincided with a shortage of health care providers. So Hiba returned to Mason to become a PMHNP and increase access to compassionate behavioral healthcare.

“Patient care can be seen as an art that requires scientific foundation and authenticity. Evidence-based practice is necessary to provide appropriate care, although it takes the unique experiences of practitioners to provide more individualized care,” she said. “Substance use disorders need support, non-judgmental care and compassion.”

As an alumnus of Mason’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program, Hiba knew Mason was the best place to continue his education to learn additional skills to help people with use disorders. of substances. Mason’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification prepares graduates to perform a variety of mental health services, including medication management. PMHNPs perform a variety of roles including, but not limited to, performing assessments, prescribing medications and providing psychotherapy

Hands-on learning experiences are an essential part of the program. Hiba recently participated in the launch of the Population Health Center behavioral health clinic. Alongside her cohort, Hiba learned the theory and practice of advanced psychiatric nursing practice in various practice settings within the health care delivery system. Under the guidance of licensed preceptors, students preparing for their PMHNP certification meet with patients during their initial assessment and follow them through their treatment journey. (Learn more about the Population Health Center behavioral health clinic.)

“We do a lot more than write assignments and try to pass exams,” Hiba said. “One of the greatest experiences of this program is the ability to apply education to practice by ensuring that we use individualized, evidence-based patient care.”

Mason’s instructors are part of what makes the College special and why Hiba chose to pursue his studies here. She spotlights Dr. Melanie Yousefi, who supported her throughout the PMHNP program both in the pedagogic and clinical settings.

“The teachers are outstanding, very caring and supportive,” she said. “They have so much experience and education that they share with us, ensuring we are ready to support our community.”

Eliminate the stigma of substance use disorder

Hiba is a strong advocate for shedding light on the realities of substance use disorder as a disease rather than a behavior that requires punishment or isolation. She has seen firsthand how negative perceptions of substance use disorders have deterred people from seeking health care. Hiba wants to educate those whose perceptions have been skewed by misinformation.

“When people feel judged, they hide and go through such a dangerous process alone,” Hiba said. “With education and compassion, we can break down this stigma, so those who need help are more encouraged to come forward to get the support they need without judgment from society or fear of criminalization.”

Those with substance use disorders often suffer from comorbidities, including other psychiatric and medical conditions that may go untreated due to stigma. Hiba describes how the socially imposed shame associated with substance use disorder pushes those in need of compassion and support to battle this disease unaided.

“People with substance use disorders are human, just like you and me, and should be treated with dignity and respect. Substance use disorder is a chronic condition that requires holistic care similar to other conditions like diabetes or hypertension. Those struggling with substance use disorders deserve the right to receive care like anyone else and live their best life,” Hiba said.

Hiba also notes the importance of using medically appropriate language when referring to substance use disorders as an element of de-stigmatization. There is a growing movement among health professionals to avoid perpetuating negative attitudes associated with terms such as drug addict and drug addict. Using language such as “a person with a substance use disorder” removes blame from individuals and redefines substance use as a disorder.

There is no one size fits all

Prior to beginning the PMHNP certification process, Hiba worked in cardiology as a registered nurse (RN) at a downtown hospital. She has worked closely with the homeless and incarcerated population, where the prevalence of substance use disorders and co-occurring illnesses is statistically higher. Throughout her career as an RN and FNP, Hiba has always made it a priority to meet the individualized needs of her patients and to ensure that the patient support system is ready to assist them outside of her care. She has completed internships at various inpatient and outpatient facilities, including the College’s Center for Population Health Behavioral Health Clinic.

After completing her stay at the Behavioral Health Clinic and earning the title of PMHNP, Hiba committed herself to putting her education as well as her compassionate nature into practice.

Provide medical treatment is one of the ways she plans to help with the interdisciplinary care needed to treat substance use disorders. Hiba also plans to work with the adolescent population, supporting them through a vulnerable developmental period.

If you or someone you know has substance use disorder Mason’s Student Support and Advocacy Center provides resources.

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