Jane Gunter, a nurse practitioner in Tuolumne County, California, has long wanted to specialize in mental health so she can treat patients who have anxiety, depression and more complicated mental illnesses.
Her county, a rural outpost in the Sierra Nevada foothills with a population of about 54,000, has only five psychiatrists — “a huge shortage,” she said.
But Gunter, 56, wasn’t about to quit her job at the Me-Wuk Indian Health Center in Tuolumne and relocate to some distant campus for two years to get certified as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Then, in February, she learned that the University of California was launching a new program to provide that certification online in just one year. She fired off her application, and last month she received an acceptance letter.
“Sometimes I think, ‘What are you doing?’” Gunter said, referring to the online classes that will take over her nights and weekends