May 2011 APNA Member Profile
Darlene Cadigan, RN

Recipient of the New Jersey Chapter's Psychiatric Nurse Recognition Award

APNA New Jersey Chapter President Ben Evans & Darlene Cadigan.

This month we would like to welcome a brand new APNA member and highlight the unique way she came to join APNA. Darlene Cadigan, RN, a New Jersey native, has been in nursing for over 30 years. She has worked as a team leader on an inpatient psychiatric and detox unit, as a staff nurse for the New Jersey Woodbridge Public Health Department, at a nursing home, and at a community hospital. She currently works with the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey as a Community Health Nurse and Staff Nurse in their Mobile Outreach Clinic Program.  In her free time she volunteers with the Red Cross and the King of Kings Lutheran Church.

It was her work in the Visiting Nurse Association's Mobile Outreach Program that caught the attention of the APNA New Jersey Chapter. This year the chapter is piloting a chapter-sponsored scholarship as part of a larger APNA effort to build upon the APNA Janssen Student Scholarship Program and expand our reach to psychiatric nurses and students. The scholarship was created with the collaboration of Chapter President Ben Evans, DD, DNP, RN, APN and Delaware Media Group, who has worked with APNA in the past on the Counseling PointsTM publications. It includes a generous $2000 scholarship the APNA 25th Annual Conference (from Delaware Media Group) and a year's membership in APNA (sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter).

While plans for this scholarship were underway, Darlene Cadigan was featured in a presentation given at the New Jersey Nursing Conference for her innovative work in mobile outreach to clients living with psychiatric illness in shelters, residential homes, and other settings - work very much in keeping with the IOM's Future of Nursing report. After this presentation, it was proposed that she receive the scholarship. The APNA New Jersey Chapter Board then voted to award her with the very first Psychiatric Nurse Recognition scholarship for her exemplary work and leadership.

Cadigan's work with the Mobile Outreach Clinic Program requires flexibility, creativity, and resourcefulness. She works to counsel, treat, inform, and advocate for a population for whom securing a meal and a place to sleep at night is a challenge. Some live in boarding houses, others in shelters and many of them are living with mental illness. With an increasing emphasis on outpatient treatment, this population continues to grow. She visits these individuals and helps them connect with and navigate the health care system, but also much more. She promotes community-based health and wellness. Her holistic approach addresses all facets of the patients' needs and works to establish a bond of trust with persons who too often have had bad experiences in the healthcare system and been stigmatized by their communities.

Cadigan was presented with the award at the New Jersey Chapter's Annual Meeting on May 15th. "She was most excited and very gracious in receiving her award," says Ben Evans. Her husband as well as her parents who, with perfect timing, happened to be in town visiting, were there to cheer her on. We'd like to thank the New Jersey Chapter and Delaware Media Group for bringing Cadigan to APNA. She is representative of the caliber of psychiatric mental health nurses whose passion and dedication to consumers of mental health services continues to greatly impact local and national communities alike.

May 2011 APNA News Main