Christine Tebaldi, MS, PMHNP-BC
2014 Award for Excellence in Leadership - APRN
As an advanced practice nurse with a specialty in emergency psychiatry and disaster mental health, the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – APRN provides volunteer leadership during times of crisis. “In 2001, I was living in Rochester, NY and working for the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). A colleague was actively involved in the American Red Cross (ARC) and shared his experiences volunteering with the Disaster Mental Health (DMH) team,” she remembers. With the events of September 11, 2001 she was moved to sign up. “My first national deployment was to New York City providing mental health support in a Respite Center near ‘Ground Zero’,” she says. “It was there that I learned the true impact disaster response volunteers can have.” She has been volunteering with the Red Cross ever since.
When it comes to disaster mental health, “The complex devastation from recent events such as the shootings in Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO and the Boston Marathon Bombings has heightened awareness more than ever,” says Tebaldi. “These events and more have had a significant impact on local communities and have contributed to national outrage and debate.” Tebaldi also cites the “widespread destruction” from transportation accidents, weather, and large-scale forest fires which our nation has seen over the past year. “Regardless of the event, the need for mental health support throughout out the phases of the disaster continuum has been apparent,” she says. “Increased research, training and funding has long-range implications on the public health front.”
Tebaldi currently works outside of Boston as the Director of Emergency & Consultative Services in community hospital programs at McLean Hospital, where she oversees psychiatric clinical services in emergency departments and works on a number of program development initiatives. “McLean has been an extremely supportive environment where the hospital mission promotes compassionate care, teamwork and service to the community – a nice match to my volunteer work,” she notes.
Tebaldi is also the Volunteer Lead for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Disaster Mental Health Team and the Disaster Mental Health State Advisor. “The primary mission of disaster behavioral health is to alleviate immediate emotional distress and mitigate long-term consequences,” Tebaldi says. “I coordinate statewide disaster-related mental health activities across the continuum of planning, response and recovery.” Response management, Tebaldi explains, covers a broad area – from planning activities and responding to daily house fires to managing relief response to large disasters such as the Boston Marathon Bombing. “Our team consists of a number of volunteer leaders and over 100 independently-licensed master’s level (or higher) mental health professionals which we have systematically rebuilt over the past 2 years,” says Tebaldi. “It has been a very rewarding and humbling experience. I have had the great fortune of working with many talented and compassionate volunteers and staff. Equally as important, I have witnessed the resilience of those affected by disaster.”
Amazingly, Tebaldi’s involvement with the Red Cross is merely the tip of the iceberg. Amongst the examples of APNA leadership is her position as co-chair of the APNA Institute for Mental Health Advocacy, along with Margaret Halter, who nominated her for the award. Tebaldi has consulted internationally, was appointed to her state’s Board of Registration in Nursing, has presented at numerous conferences and contributed to an array of publications. Somehow, though, she manages to keep herself out of the spotlight, instead always ensuring that attention is focused on advocating for mental health. “It is astounding that it took me seven years to comprehend the degree to which Christine Tebaldi has invested herself in the service of psychiatric nursing and as an advocate for quality psychiatric care,” says Halter. “Part of the reason that I didn't know about Christine's investment is due to the fact that she is the last person to trumpet her achievements and the degree to which she serves others.”
Coupled with her commitment and work ethic, Tebaldi leads by example and through inclusivity and collaboration. “As Christine moves forth in the community and in professional arenas demonstrating her extensive knowledge of mental health and mental health nursing, she influences partners in the community and other professionals in business, politics and governmental services that experience her quiet confidence,” says colleague Leslie Oleck. “She is a living example of psychiatric mental health nursing leadership in action.” Tebaldi credits her volunteer work with helping to shape her as a psychiatric-mental health nurse leader. “ARC has taught me a tremendous amount about leadership in complex dynamic environments,” she says. In addition, “ The experiences at McLean, APNA and URMC, including the opportunity to work with a number of incredible leaders and mentors along the way, has enhanced my professional development and tremendously shaped my leadership style.”