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Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program expands leadership

Cate Campisi and Michael Rice become co-directors


Mary Weber, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC, FAANP
Mary Weber, PhD, FAANP

​In a time when need for the mental health care in American is exploding, mental health nursing programs are disappearing in many areas largely due to retirements and an inability to recruit faculty. The University of Colorado College of Nursing's Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Program, however, is experiencing unprecedented growth and expansion unmatched by any similar program in the United States. This program has grown from one faculty in 2008 to 5.5 full time faculty. These talented faculty are not only educating family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners but participating in federally funded grants from SAMSHA, NIDA, NIMH, PCORI, and HRSA.

Faculty also are involved in innovations in integrated behavioral health care, remote clinical supervision, clinical simulations, SBIRT (Screening for Substance Use, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment), homeless care, preventing veteran suicide, Mexican American psychiatric treatment preferences, child psychiatric care, preceptor models, and testing brief interventions with run-away youth.

A large part of that growth has been the stable influence of Mary Weber, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, endowed professor and the specialty coordinator of the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Program. The CU psych nursing program had closed in 2004 due to faculty retirements. Weber was recruited four years later and has breathed new life into the program. Now, she’s looking to expand its grant efforts. After seven years as the coordinator, Weber will step down from her current role June 1, 2015 to pursue a series of research\education grant funding opportunities in substance use and the care of the homeless.

Weber will continue her work mentoring, teaching and clinically supervising students in the CU PMHNP program. We are very proud of her leadership, the strength of the program she has developed, and the many individuals whose careers she has shaped.

Two talented faculty at the CU College of Nursing, Cate Campisi, MSN, RN, PMHNP-BC, and Michael Rice, PhD, APRN, FAAN, will assume the roles of co-specialty directors.

Campisi began her involvement in psychiatric mental health while working with an inner city mentoring program in New York City, at an at-risk youth wilderness education program (Outward Bound), and in a wilderness therapy program, the Aspen Achievement Academy. She also worked with a pediatric day treatment program for children in Minneapolis and participated in research on childhood violence through the University of Minnesota prior to becoming a nurse.

She earned her MSN in psychiatric nursing at the University of California – San Francisco and completed a graduate psychiatric mental health NP residency through UCSF's famed Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Since, she has worked as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with clinical and teaching experience in Madison, Wisconsin, focusing on severe and persistent mental illness and acute psychiatric crises in adults.

Campisi developed and managed a new step-down residential crisis unit in Madison for a renowned community mental health center. She subsequently pursued clinical practice in consultation-liaison psychiatry and provided inter-professional education on bioethics for a community hospital. Throughout her clinical practice she taught in the University of Wisconsin-Madison psychiatric nurse practitioner program, the Wisconsin Crisis conference and psychopharmacology conferences on topics related to pediatric mental health care.

She brings great passion, leadership and advocacy for psychiatric nursing to the co-director role at the CU College of Nursing.

Rice is a professor and the Endowed Chair - Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at the CU College of Nursing and a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. He came to the college from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), where he was a professor and a founder of the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska and its associate director.

His baccalaureate degree is from Mount Marty College, in Yankton, South Dakota; his master's degree in psychiatric mental health is from UNMC; and his doctorate in clinical research is from the University of Arizona, as a National Research Service Award Fellow. He is an ANCC board-certified advanced practice psychiatric nurse. He advocates using distance-education technology to meet the health-care needs of rural America. And, he was the recipient of the 2002 EDUCAUSE Award for Excellence in Information Technology Solutions.

Rice is a chair of the Harm Reduction Task Force for the Psychiatric Expert Panel at the American Academy of Nursing; is on the board of directors for the American Psychiatric Nurses Association; and is on the board of advisers for Behavioral Health Specialties at Optum Health. He has developed and provided national and international consultation on development of distance psychiatric-nursing education and learner-centered online education.

He brings sustained passion, leadership experience and continued advocacy for psychiatric nursing to the role as PMHNP co-director.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A reception recognizing this program, its faculty, students, clinical partners and alumni will be held May 18, 2015.