The APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarship
By Joseph Griffey, 2013 APNA Board of Directors Student Scholar
"You supported me when I was vulnerable, you helped me find my voice when I was afraid to speak, and you demonstrated what it means to be a psychiatric-mental health nurse."
Before I became a psychiatric mental health nurse, I wanted to be a safe nurse! It did not matter the specialty, I wanted to do something that would help make the world a better place and something that I was good at. Aside from the altruistic nature of nursing, I wanted my career to be something that was financially practical too. Caring alone doesn’t pay the bills. When I chose to go into psychiatric-mental health nursing, I was never surer that I was making the right decision. Then about three months later, I began to hear the chatter: “psychiatric nursing is not where you should start your career”, “you’ll be stuck if you do not find another job soon”, and “that’s a job that you get when you want to retire from nursing”. Slowly my confidence began to fade. When I voiced my concern on the Member Bridge All-Purpose Discussion Forum, it erupted with responses from all of you! Some near, some far, but all saying the same thing - I had made the right decision. Day after day support flowed in and my confidence returned. Now I feel like there is nothing else I’d rather be doing in my life.
Another amazing asset that comes with being an APNA BOD Scholar is access to a wealth of knowledge. In this day and age with computers, tablets, and smart phones, it seems a no-brainer that information can be distributed quickly and in great amounts. While this is true, it’s not just being able to access journals and research that is so valuable; it’s the ability to connect with so many people. I consider myself fairly young… I do have a Facebook account, but I have never been connected to so many people with one mind and one aim. At the Annual Conference in San Antonio I was able to meet Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Halter, who co-authored my psychiatric-mental health textbook; none of my classmates who work in other specialties can say that! I also found a mentor from my state chapter who contacts me and encourages me whenever I need to talk. Oh, and did I mention that I met the living legend Shirley Smoyak?! I told you, this scholarship is like getting the golden ticket.
Perhaps the most fun I have had as a scholar is simply enjoying the nursing profession. The environment at my job is a paragon of what it means to be a steward of psychiatric-mental health nursing and I am able to take what I learn at APNA conferences and put it into practice. I love where I work – I think it’s the greatest place to work in Illinois! I enjoy the side conversations I have with coworkers where we think about what we can do to advance our field or decrease stigma. I enjoy the hours of hard work that the APNA committees I serve on dedicate to improving performance and quality of care. I love being able to define what I do, because I am not just a nurse, I am a psychiatric-mental health nurse. I meet patients’ mental, emotional, and physical needs where they are, in a specific moment, to help them decrease stress and anxiety and overcome trauma/grief to promote healthy coping skills and behavioral changes that enable recovery and having a meaningful place in society.
In closing, I want to thank all of the members of APNA, because it is all of you who made this experience possible for me. You supported me when I was vulnerable, you helped me find my voice when I was afraid to speak, and you demonstrated what it means to be a psychiatric-mental health nurse. This has truly been an invaluable experience for me, especially considering that I am in my first year of nursing.
|2013 APNA Board of Directors Scholars at the APNA 27th Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX|