COURSE: NURS 6630: Psychopharmalogical Approaches to Treat Psychopathology

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NURS 6630: Psychopharmalogical Approaches to Treat Psychopathology


Syllabus and will abide by the requirements described in order to successfully complete this course.

Student Support and Calendar Information

So you have all key information available to you off-line, it is highly recommended that you print the following items for your reference:

  • This Syllabus, including the Course Schedule that is linked on this page as a PDF
  • Course Calendar
  • Support, Guidelines, and Policies

Credit Hours

  • 5 credits in 11 weeks

Walden University assigns credit hours based on the number and type of assignments that enable students to achieve the course learning objectives. In general, each semester credit equals about 42 hours of total student work and each quarter credit equals about 28 hours of total student work. This time requirement represents an approximate average for undergraduate work and the minimum expectations for graduate work. The number and kind of activities estimated to fulfill time requirements will vary by degree level and student learning style, and by student familiarity with the delivery method and course content.

Course Description

At times, psychotherapy is not enough to alleviate the emotional difficulties that some patients face. To that end, psychopharmacologic approaches are needed. Psychiatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) must have a strong basis in psychopharmacology, extending from a prior education in pharmacology, to make appropriate medication choices for their patients. Learners in this course consider psychopharmacologic approaches to major behavioral health disorders including, but not limited to, major depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and psychotic disorders. Learners explore key considerations associated with medication selection, monitoring efficacy, and long-term management.

Course Prerequisites


Course Learning Outcomes

By the conclusion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Evaluate foundational neuroscience as it relates to caring for patients with psychiatric disorders across the lifespan
  2. Analyze the impact of non-adherence on treatment success and strategies to mitigate risk factors with non-adherence
  3. Assess mechanisms of action of medications used to treat psychiatric conditions
  4. Apply patient-centric concepts and evidence-based medicine to select appropriate psychopharmacologic agents
  5. Synthesize pathophysiology and health assessment concepts in the psychopharmacologic treatment of behavioral health disorders
  6. Analyze ethical and legal implications of prescribing psychotropic medications across the lifespan
  7. Evaluate the efficacy and adverse reactions of psychotropic medications


The following are related :



College of Nursing Alignment of Learner Outcomes

Click on the following link to access the College of Nursing Alignment of Learner Outcomes:


    Document: NURS 6630 SON Alignment of Learning Outcomes (PDF)


Course Materials


Please visit the university bookstore via your Walden student portal to ensure you are obtaining the correct version of any course texts and/or materials noted in the following section. When you receive your materials, make sure that all required items are included.

Course Text

Stern, T. A., Favo, M., Wilens, T. E., & Rosenbaum, J. F. (2016). Massachusetts General Hospital psychopharmacology and neurotherapeutics. Elsevier.

The following course text is available through the Walden Library:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Association.

Note: If the print edition of these books are referenced here, electronic versions also may be available and may be acceptable for use in this course. If an electronic version is listed, no print version is available.

Other readings (journal articles, websites, book excerpts, etc.) are assigned throughout the course and may be found within each Module.


Assigned course media elements may be found in one or more modules of the course and are available via a streaming media player or a hyperlink to the individual item.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Review the following information prior to selecting resources for assignments.

Primary: A primary source is an original document that is the first account of what happened. A research report is primary, and you can tell because it includes materials and methods demonstrating how the research was done. Some creative work is also primary, such as poetry, novels, and interviews of people who experienced something firsthand. In nursing, which is an evidence-based discipline, we strive to use primary research that is published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.


Scholarly, peer-reviewed journal: Scholarly journals publish papers by professional authors and experts in the field using a peer-review process to review the work and assure quality before publishing. The focus of a scholarly journal is to provide accurate information for scholars and other researchers. The focus is on content rather than advertising, a direct contrast to popular media. Scholarly journals publish both primary and secondary papers, the former usually is noted as original research and the latter as reviews and commentaries. Letters to the editor may also be published but should be recognized as opinion pieces.


    Note: When selecting articles for course assignments, you are advised (unless you are referencing seminal information) to focus on work published within the past 5 years.


Secondary: A secondary source is one step removed from the original source. This work interprets and often compiles other work, and it includes review articles, textbooks, fact sheets, and commentaries about a topic. It also includes news reports of original research. Secondary work is more prone to error and bias than primary work because it is being filtered through an additional person or persons. Review papers can be useful to glean information about a topic and to find other sources from the reference list, but it is the original, primary research that should be relied on most heavily in demonstrating scholarship, depth, and validation of factual information.

Course Assignments

  1. Participation in weekly Discussions:  The exchange of ideas among colleagues engaged in scholarly inquiry is a key aspect of learning and is a requisite activity in this course. You are expected to participate each week that a Discussion is assigned by posting a response to a prompt or question in the weekly Discussion area. In addition, you are expected to respond to your fellow students’ postings. To count as participation, responses need to be thoughtful; that is, they must refer to the week’s readings, relevant issues in the news, information obtained from other sources, and/or ideas expressed in the postings of other class members. You may ask questions or offer further information or links about the subject. Please pay attention to grammar and spelling, as consistently poorly written posts will receive grade penalties. In grading the required Discussion postings, your Instructor will be using the Discussion Posting and Response Rubric, located in the Course Information area.

    Note: Unless otherwise noted, initial postings to Discussions are due on or before Day 3, and response postings are due on or before Day 6.You are required to participate in the Discussion on at least 3 different days (a different day for main post and each response). It is important to adhere to the weekly time frame to allow others ample time to respond to your posting. In addition, you are expected to respond to questions directed toward your own initial posting in a timely manner.

  1. Assignments: The Assignments provide you with the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge gained through the Learning Resources and the practicum experience. See the Assignment area of specific weeks for detailed descriptions of the Assignments. In grading the required Assignments, your Instructor will be using rubrics located in the Course Information area.

Note: The course Assignments will require that you completely and accurately demonstrate critical thinking via assimilation and synthesis of ideas when using credible outside and course-specific resources (i.e., video, required readings, textbook), when comparing different points of view, highlighting similarities, differences, and connections, and/or when lending support to your Assignment responses.


Academic Integrity Originality Policy

Walden encourages students to use critical thinking to produce original thoughts in discussion posts, assignments, and other scholarly work. This will require that you completely and accurately demonstrate critical thinking via assimilation and synthesis of ideas when using credible, outside and course specific resources (i.e., video, required readings, textbook); when comparing different points of view, highlighting similarities, differences, and connections; and/or when lending support to your responses.

Using too many direct quotes or ineffective paraphrasing does not demonstrate originality.


To demonstrate originality requires the use of paraphrasing. According to the Walden Writing Center (n.d.), “Paraphrasing in academic writing is an effective way to restate, condense, or clarify another author’s ideas while also providing credibility to your own argument or analysis (“Introduction to Paraphrasing“. As you discuss those sources, paraphrasing allows you to use your own words and sentence structure to talk about the information you gleaned from those sources. “ (Walden Writing Center, n.d., “Introduction to Paraphrasing”).


“Ineffective paraphrasing occurs when authors paraphrase a source but do not use their own sentence structure or vocabulary to effectively reword that source. The issue here is often that the student’s paraphrase simply uses synonyms for the source’s original wording and is not different enough from the original source’s wording. Ineffective paraphrasing can occur when an author does not use his or her own wording or voice to paraphrase entire paragraphs or individual sentences. (Walden Writing Center, n.d., “Examples of Paraphrasing,” slide 10).


For more information, refer to the Writing Center’s Introduction to Plagiarism & Intellectual Property at


Assignments, discussion posts, or other scholarly work that does not demonstrate originality and/or lacks proper citation to credit original sources/authors will receive a grade reduction amounting up to 10%.

Grading Criteria and Total Components of a Grade

Course grades will be based on participation (postings) and completion of assignments listed below.

    Note: All assignments must be completed to pass the course.

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

90%-100% = A

80%-89% = B

70%-79% = C

< 70% = F


Note: Please see below the policy on Incomplete (I) grades.

Assignment Total Points Percentage (Weighted)



·         Participation in Discussion* (2 @ 100 points)








·         Short Answer Assessments (2 @ 75 points each)


·         Study Guide     (1 @ 100 points)


250 8%
Decision Tree Assignments


(6 @ 100 points each)


600 30%
Self Assessments x 2


0 0%
Midterm Exam (100 points) 0
Final Exam (100 points) 200 52
Practicum Application Assignment

·         (1 @ 0 points [graded S/U])


S/U 0
TOTAL 1250 100%


* Each Discussion requires that you make one initial posting and at least two response postings to colleagues. See the Discussion Posting and Response Rubric for posting details.


Incomplete Grade Policy

Per University policy, Incomplete grades can be granted only to students who have already met the minimum criteria for active weekly participation in a course (including weekly postings in online courses) and have completed at least 80% of other coursework.

Incompletes can be awarded when, because of extenuating circumstances, a student has not met additional course requirements, including but not limited to written assignments, group projects, and research papers, as applicable. All Incomplete grades are awarded at the discretion of the course Faculty.

Students who are eligible for an Incomplete must contact the course Faculty to request the grade as soon as possible. Students who do not meet the criteria listed above will not be allowed to earn an Incomplete. If the Incomplete is approved, the Faculty Member will work with the student to outline the due date(s) for remaining work. Under no circumstances will the new due dates extend beyond 50 days from the last day of the term.

Faculty will then have 10 days to assess the work and post the permanent grade before the University-allotted Incomplete time limit of 60 days expires. All Incomplete grades not resolved within the time allotted will convert to permanent grades of F.

Instructor Feedback Schedule

The instructor will log in to the course during the week to monitor the weekly Discussion area. Feedback will be provided via the My Grades area, the Discussion area, and/or the Announcements page.

You can expect your weekly assignment grades to be posted within 10 calendar days of a due date. Instructor feedback and explanation is provided whenever full credit is not achieved. Depending on the nature of the feedback, Instructor responses may be posted to the Discussion area or included in the My Grades area.

The goal of your instructor is to act as a discussion and learning facilitator rather than a lecturer. The instructor will not respond to every posting by every individual, so please feel free to ask your Instructor if you would like some personal feedback on a particular assignment posting or anytime you have any questions regarding your assignments or your grade.

Course Procedures

All class Discussions take place in the weekly Discussion areas.

You are encouraged to post course-related questions to the Contact the Instructor area, as they may be of interest to all; however, if your question is urgent, it is often best to email the instructor. If your emailed question is thought to be of benefit to all, it may be responded to by the instructor via email to all or posted as an announcement.

Instructor feedback on content and writing issues that is thought to be of benefit to the entire class may be posted to the Contact the Instructor area; however, most personal critique will be done privately in the Grade Center. Be sure to check the Grade Center for comments every week even if you received full credit.

Please feel free to use the Class Cafe to initiate and participate in conversations not directly related to the course. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know other students better. The instructor will browse the Class Cafe occasionally but generally will not respond to conversations posted there unless students have specific questions for him or her.

Check the email account you use for official Walden University business on a regular basis. The expectation is that you are checking this email account daily during the week. If you experience difficulty sending or receiving Walden email, please contact the Student Support Team right away. Contact information for the Student Support Team is located in the Student Support area.

Review all materials in the Course Information area, as well as the materials contained under each of the weekly buttons.

Resubmission of assignments is not permitted after due dates. Students are expected to review their work and submissions of work carefully prior to due dates. Faculty may open a second submission area for assignment resubmission prior to due dates if students report submission errors. Assignments are graded after due dates as the final product ready for grading. Errors in submissions noted after due dates may result in a grade of zero.


Note: There are Optional Readings located within the Learning Resources section of each week in the course. You are encouraged to explore these readings, as needed, in order to enhance your understanding of the course content.


Preferred Methods for Delivering Assignments

Be sure that you post to the correct Discussion area each week, if assigned. Do not email postings to the Instructor. For all initial Discussion postings, make sure that the first sentence of your posting reads Main Question Post. For your responses to others’ response postings, make sure that the first sentence of your response reads Response. These actions will ensure easily identifiable subject lines for your postings and responses.

Application Assignments are submitted to the SafeAssign link and named according to the week in which the Assignment is submitted. Directions for naming each Application Assignment are included in each week’s Assignment area. Please be sure that all written Application Assignments are saved and submitted as a “.doc” file.

All email correspondence must contain in the subject line “NURS 6630-XX-NAME” (XX is the section number) followed by a brief description of the subject. This subject line convention ensures that your email will be easily identified and responded to in a timely manner. It is required that the email contain a signature that matches the official name used in the course.


Late Assignment Policy

Students are expected to submit assignments by the due dates noted in the course. In extenuating circumstances, such as illness, the student must contact the Instructor as soon as possible to discuss the situation. In those circumstances, Faculty will determine the appropriate course of action for the student. Depending on the situation, these actions may include recommendations to drop the course (if within the university drop/withdrawal period), acceptance of some or all of the overdue assignments with or without penalties, or failure to accept assignments.

Assignments submitted late without the prior agreement of the Instructor, outside of an emergency absence, or in violation of agreements for late submission, will receive a grade reduction for the assignment amounting up to 20%. Each day late with result in a 4%-point deduction up to day 5. After 5 days, the assignment will be graded a zero. Students should be aware that late assignments may not receive the same level of written feedback as do assignments submitted on time.

Discussion Board, Midterm Exam, and Final Exam Late Policy

The late policy applied to discussion boards, midterms exams, and final exams are different than course assignments and are as follows. Students are expected to complete discussion boards,  midterms exams, and final exams by the due dates noted in the course. If students do not complete the discussion boards or initiate exams by the due date, the grade will result in a zero.  In the event of an extenuating circumstance, students must let the instructor know prior to the due date. If the student is unable to do so, he or she needs to notify the instructor as soon as possible and those circumstances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Any exam that is permitted to be taken late or permitted a retake may be subject to proctoring with audio and video technology.

Keeping Your Coursework


You will have access to the course and your coursework from the course start date until 60 days after the course ends. After this time, you will no longer be able to access the course or related materials. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you retain copies of your completed assignments and any documents you wish to keep. The University is not responsible for lost or missing coursework.

Course Evaluation


At or near the end of the course, you will receive an email inviting you to submit an online evaluation of the course and instruction. All submitted course evaluations are confidential, and only aggregate data and comments will be shared with the Instructor and Program Director. Your feedback is vitally important to Walden University in its efforts to continuously improve programs.

Students With Disabilities


Students in this course who have a disability that might prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should contact the director of Student Wellness & Disability Services at or at 1-800-925-3368, ext. 312-1205 and +1-612-925-3368 or for international toll-free numbers as soon as possible to initiate disability verification and discuss accommodations that may be necessary to ensure full participation in the successful completion of course requirements.

Classroom Participation


In accordance with U.S. Department of Education guidance regarding class participation, Walden University requires that all students submit at least one of their required Week 1 assignments (which includes posting to the Discussion Board) within each course(s) during the first 7 calendar days of class. For courses with two-week units, posting to the Discussion Board by Day 7 meets this requirement. The first calendar day of class is the official start date of the course as posted on your myWalden academic page.

Assignments submitted prior to the official start date will not count toward your participation.

Financial Aid cannot be released without class participation as defined above.

Students who are taking their first class with Walden and do not submit at least one of their required Week 1 assignments (or at least one Discussion post) by the end of the 7th day will be administratively withdrawn from the university.

Students who have already taken and successfully completed at least one or more class(es) with Walden, and who do not participate within the first 7 days, will be dropped from that class.

If you have any questions about your assignments, or you are unable to complete your assignments, please contact your Faculty Member.



For full assignment details and directions, refer to each module of the course. All assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) on the day assigned (which is 1:59 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) the next day). The time stamp in the classroom will reflect Eastern Time (ET), regardless of your time zone. As long as your submission time stamp is no later than 1:59 a.m. Eastern Time (ET), you have submitted on time.



For full assignment details and directions, refer to each Module of the course.

Document: NURS 6630 Course Schedule (PDF)



Module Assignment Title
Module 1


Introduction to Neuroanatomy and Adherence


Week 1


Introduction to Neuroanatomy


Optional Discussion Forum

Short Answer Assessment


Week 2


Neurotransmitters and Receptor Theory


Discussion Foundational Neuroscience


Week 3


Concepts in Assessing Medication Adherence and Strategies to Mitigate Non-Adherence


Self Assessment


Neurobiology and Medication Adherence Concepts


Module 2


Disorders With Affective Components


Week 4


Therapy for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)





Assessing and Treating Pediatric Patients With Mood Disorders


Week 5


Therapy for Patients With Bipolar Disorders




Assessing and Treating Patients With Bipolar Disorder


Week 6


Therapy for Patients With Anxiety Disorders and PTSD Treatment




Assessing and Treating Patients With Anxiety Disorders


Midterm Exam


Week 7


Therapy for Patients With Schizophrenia




Treatment for a Patient With a Common Condition




Study Guide for Medication Treatment Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychosis Disorders


Week 8


Therapy for Patients With Sleep/Wake Disorders


Assignment 1

·         Short Answer Assessment


Assignment 2

·         Assessing and Treating Patients With Sleep/Wake Disorders


Week 9


Therapy for Patients With ADHD/ODD



·         Assessing and Treating Patients With ADHD


Self Assessment Assessing and Treating Patients With Psychopharmacology


Module 3


Disorders With Behavioral Components


Week 10


Therapy for Patients With Impulsive/Substance Use Disorders (SUD)




Influencing Social Change


Assignment 1


Assessing and Treating Patients With Impulsivity, Compulsivity, and Addiction

Assignment 2     Practicum Application Assignment


Week 11


Therapy for Patients With Dementia/Alzheimer’s and Comorbid States


Final Exam






The bibliography contains the references for all learning materials in the course. For your convenience, a link has been provided to download and save the bibliography.

Document: NURS 6630  Bibliography (PDF)