May 2012 Member Profile:
Honoring the CPI Program Committee Chairs for CPI's 10th Anniversary

Sandra Talley, Barbara Wolfe, Susan Simmons-Alling, Mary Ann Boyd, Barbara Warren, Georgia Stevens

Ten years ago, APNA hosted the inaugural Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute, a conference designed for psychiatric-mental health nurses by psychiatric-mental health nurses. In honor of CPI's 10th anniversary, we are recognizing those PMH nurses who have served as CPI Program Committee Chairs and therefore played integral roles in shaping and ensuring the success of this conference. Each past Committee Chair, who will be awarded with an APNA Recognition of Service Certificate at this year's Institute, took a moment to share a bit about working on the conference and seeing it evolve over the years:

Sandra Talley Barbara Wolfe
Susan Simmons-Alling

In July of 2002, members Sandra Talley, PhD, APRN, BC; Barbara Wolfe, PhD, APRN, BC, FAAN; and Susan Simmons-Alling MSN, APN-C wrote a letter to the APNA Board of Directors proposing that APNA offer an "Annual Psychopharmacology Institute" in order to fill what they percieved as a gap in the continuing nursing education available at the time. From this initial letter evolved the first APNA Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute, with Talley, Wolfe, and Simmons-Alling at the helm. The conference was held over three days in Cambridge, Massachussetts and welcomed over 240 attendees. The three continued to pioneer CPI, leading the conference program development over the next three years.

They describe the impetus for the creation of CPI: "We were interested in developing a neuroscience and pharmacology course for nurses. We wanted to learn the current science of psychiatry in order to integrate structure and function of brain and behavior into our practice. We planned for a CE program over several days...It was very important that the conference be for nurses rather than continue as specious guests at medical conferences where nurse prescribing was still held in contempt. Our vision was to invite those clinicians and clinical researchers that were developing the newest knowledge in pharmacology for psychiatric treatment." As for the logistics, "we elected not to seek pharmaceutical money which allowed us to recruit colleagues willing to present their research findings. Many were recruited from our immediate areas which kept travel expenses low and expertise high."

"The four years that we directed CPI were all memorable," they continue. "Every year seemed even better than the last. We were able to attract scientist-practitioners from NIMH and Ivy League academic institutions, as well as leading authors on select topics." They were also one of the first to integrate psychiatric genetics into a conference curriculum.  Talley, Wolfe and Simmons-Alling worked with APNA to find inventive ways to liven up the conference, such as a raffle. "We located a wonderful bookstore owner to sell books during the conference.  She stocked many of the books written by the speakers as well pharmacology and psychopharmacology texts.  Publishers also sent sample books and discount cards.  At the end of the conference we raffled off the donated books."

Today, Sandra Talley has a private practice in Connecticut; Barbara Wolfe is an Associate Dean for Research and a professer at Boston College; and Sue Simmons-Alling has a private practice in New Jersey.

Mary Ann Boyd Barbara Warren
Mary Ann Boyd, PhD, DNS, PMHCNS-BC and Barbara Warren, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN took up the reins and chaired the CPI Program Committee in 2007 and 2008. Of her motivation for serving as a co-chair, Boyd says that she simply "wanted to support nurses' continuing education efforts in psychiatric-mental health nursing." Warren, also a past APNA President, offers an apt description of CPI: "If you look up Institute in the dictionary it says it is a foundation and society.  I see that as describing CPI very well. It is a society of PMHNs who are seeking to build and expand their foundation of knowledge in the areas of psychopharmacology. It also provides the availability for networking and collaboration across sub-specialties within our specialty as well as in other disciplines."

During their time serving as Co-Chairs, Warren and Boyd continued the vision for CPI as it was first outlined: that it "be the premier psychopharmacological education for psychiatric mental health nurses grounded in the latest scientific and practice evidence," says Boyd. Warren elaborates, "I think it was the hope and with feedback from our members that the Institute would evolve into what we have today. It touches all 3 areas in which PMHNs practice, educate and/or do research. And we have incorporated a wide variety of PMHN nurses which is really what was needed."

In 2008 Boyd and Warren saw the conference outgrow the original venue in Cambridge and move to its current location at the Hyatt Regence in Reston, Virginia. "I think my most memorable experience was the time that we moved CPI to our current location as it represented a continued growth of what was needed for the Institute," says Warren. "Of course, each one is memorable to me in its own way!"

Mary Ann Boyd currently serves as Professor Emerita at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and works as a Nursing Consultant/Educator in the VA St. Louis Healthcare System. Barbara Warren is a Professor of Clinical Nursing and the Director of the Family Psychiatric Program at The Ohio State University, College of Nursing.

Georgia Stevens
After speaking at the 2007 Institute, Georgia Stevens, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC joined the Program Committee and followed Boyd and Warren as Chair in 2009. She has continued to chair the committee over the past four years. "It has been a pleasure to pore over evaluations, consider current and future psychopharmacological considerations, tap into the vast resources of NIMH, and collaborate with leaders in nursing and pharmacology," she says. Like her predecessors, she has been wowed by the "extraordinary growth in attendance" seen from one year to the next and the continued high caliber of the program.

She describes CPI as a "psychiatric-mental health nursing conference designed to present state of the art science and expertise to provide the neurobiological foundation and evidence-based pharmacologic approaches related to the prescribing, administration, and monitoring of psychotropic medications." In addition, it offers "the opportunity to discuss clinical psychopharmacological issues relevant to the continuum of wellness and recovery and network with colleagues."

This year Stevens is joined by Julie Carbray in co-chairing the CPI Program Committee. When she's not tackling the planning of CPI, Stevens works as a geropsychiatric nurse consultant and psychotherapist in Washington, DC.


All six of these psychiatric-mental health nurses have played integral parts in the creation and continuation of this conference on psychopharmacology specifically geared to PMH nurses. The opportunity for PMH nurses to gather each year and hear presenters translate cutting edge science into PMH nursing practice, as well as network with colleagues, is invaluable. We are incredibly grateful for these nurses' outstanding contributions and so glad to be able to recognize them for their years of service to APNA and CPI at the upcoming 10th Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute!