My Golden Ticket:
The APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarship

By Joseph Griffey, 2013 APNA Board of Directors Student Scholar

Joseph GriffeyBeing an APNA Board of Directors Scholar this past year has been my golden ticket. It has offered me access to a world where everything about what the profession offers, as alluded to in nursing school, and so much more, has come to fruition. I can tell you about opportunities for professional growth, service, and overcoming challenges; you know things that have become buzz words in the professional service-oriented world, but if I did that, I would not be sharing the heart of my experience as an APNA BOD scholar. For me the best part about being a BOD scholar has been the support and reassurance I receive, the opportunity to connect with people across the nation with the click of a button, and the opportunity to engage in the nursing profession.

"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