Sharon Katz - Award for Innovation

Sharon Katz, APNA Award for InnovationSharon Katz, RN, FPMH-NP, PMH-CNS, BC
2014 Award for Innovation


In 1995 Sharon Katz, this year’s recipient of the APNA Award for Innovation, opened her own practice in Pennsylvania, Collaborative Care of Abington: an outpatient service composed of APRNs, LCSWs, PhDs, LMFTs and LPCs which meets mental health needs for primary care providers. From the beginning, she was thorough in ensuring that she had the background knowledge to create a successful “holistic mental health” practice. “Learning about the mental health system, the standards of practice and integrated models created the building blocks of the foundation of Collaborative Care,” she says. Plus, with 11 years on the Provider Review Committee for her region’s Magellan, representing most masters level mental health providers, “she is an expert on running a business related to mental health services, especially regarding reimbursement for services,” says nominator Diane Wieland.

Katz’s practice is now entering a new phase with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is using an integrated program organized by Katz in which, through a warm handoff, patients at a medical office are referred to psychiatric treatment at Collaborative Care. “Facilitating a ‘warm handoff’ between medical and Collaborative Care of Abington staff opens the door to access, delivers the initial treatment recommendations, and creates new roles and expectations for a Behavioral Care Manager or Behavioral Health Consultant,” Katz says.

This new model requires new innovations. “Building appropriate Electronic Medical Records creates the ability to collaborate with various medical teams without continuous presence in a practice, as well as the ability to create, track and trend data from evidence-based practice.” This is key. “Documentation is a major way of communicating our role to our other professional colleagues,” Katz explains. “It demonstrates the effectiveness of our treatment modalities.    

Katz is committed to developing and expanding the roles of psychiatric-mental health nurses. “At every stage of expansion of Collaborative Care, I have always focused on how the office can best demonstrate and employ APRNs,” she says. Gail Stern, one of Katz’s nominators says, “Sharon is an entrepreneur with a mission. She built a business model with a psychiatric nurse in the leadership role. Sharon is making sure that psychiatric nurses (RNs and APRNs) are considered as one of the best choices in the new models. Nursing and psychiatric nursing are uniquely equipped to bridge the physical / psychiatric gaps in understanding to maximize this collaboration. Sharon educates all that will listen on these qualities.”

How does Katz see psychiatric-mental health nurses taking advantage of new opportunities created by the current health care system? “Psychiatric APRN and BSN roles develop by demonstrating practice and exploring abilities,” she says. “With evolution of health care, we have opportunities to develop more roles now than ever before.”  She continues, “Including Evidence-Based Practice tools, developing protocols that demonstrate consistency of choices explored, and consistently monitoring clinical interventions will lead to critical development of roles.” She also stresses the importance of professional relationships. “You don’t have to see patients in the medical provider’s office, but develop a relationship based on practice standards equal to the medical provider’s,” she advises. “Always be open to feedback and supervision. No one has perfect perception, insight or psychiatric skills.”