Carole Farley-Toombs, MS, RN, NEA-BC
This is a very exciting time for APNA as we prepare to celebrate our 25th anniversary at the Annual Conference in Anaheim this October. The first APNA conference I attended was in Philadelphia in 1995. I recall the thrill of meeting exemplary psychiatric nursing leaders who had authored the textbooks and journal articles that shaped my thinking about what it means to be a psychiatric nurse and who had created and sustained a vision of psychiatric mental health nursing that continues today. I was immediately inspired to become active in APNA and became a charter member of the New York State Chapter. Throughout the years, APNA has provided me with tremendous opportunities to develop my clinical and leadership skills through engagement with outstanding colleagues and it is truly a privilege to serve in the capacity of President this year.
Initial responses to the recent survey regarding members’ experiences at past APNA conferences affirm that my experience was not an isolated one. Others have experienced that same moment of awe that inspires a life-long engagement with APNA and its members. Here is a small sampling of members’ fondest memories from past conferences: “The incredible opportunity to network amongst some of the brightest thought leaders in mental health nursing”…“The immediate connection to my colleagues from around the country was so powerful”…“Finding out that nurses are quite powerful and seeing progress being made towards unity”…“Seeing professionals in our field making a difference in individual lives, our profession, our nation and our nation’s healthcare policies”…“Meeting Hildegard Peplau and Grayce Sills”…“Even three months later I smile when I think of the connections that I had with others who have the same passion for psychiatric nursing. It was a feeling of being at home, a familial inter-generational connection. I felt professionally refreshed and refueled”…”Kentucky was my first conference and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was energized by being amongst so many other nurses with the same passion for psychiatric nursing. It may have been my first conference but it will not be my last.”
An association moves from a ‘professional association’ that focuses on sustaining itself to an ‘association of professionals’ when it defines and creates value for it members. A highly functioning association commits to a consistent and organized focus on matters of high value to its members. It provides the content, knowledge, and insight into key issues and trends that enable members to successfully influence beliefs and behaviors in order to improve care and treatment. It creates community through venues where members enjoy shared experiences with colleagues and where accomplishments are celebrated. The place where we will gather as a community to celebrate our outstanding work, rich history, limitless future, and the passion we bring to our professional work is at our 25th Annual Conference in Anaheim this October. I’m so looking forward to seeing all of you at the ‘happiest place on earth.”
As for recent goings-on in the association, APNA developed a position statement on ECT that was drafted by one member, vetted through the membership via Member Bridge, finalized and approved by the Board of Directors, submitted to the FDA, distributed to all members, posted on the website and released to the press. A process for the development of further position papers to provide education and guidance on issues of paramount importance to psychiatric mental health nursing and patient care has now been established. Also, member use of Member Bridge continues to grow as does the scope and depth of the issues discussed. Council Chairs are learning how to utilize this important resource in these busy times to focus and accomplish their goals. There is so much more to come this year that will enhance the ability of APNA members to be fully engaged in health care reform, integrated care models, and evidence-based treatment as well-informed clinical and thought leaders.
Our past is full of achievement. Our future is in our hands. Let’s shape it together!