Pennsylvania Chapter
2012 Award for Innovation - Chapter

The APNA Pennsylvania Chapter, with over 400 members, is one of the larger and more active APNA chapters - and that’s no accident. Over the past year the chapter has implemented some very simple but original strategies to not only continue that increase, but also to educate their state’s communities about PMH nurses.  “One of the goals of our chapter is to promote PMHN in our communities and to put a human and humane face to psychiatric nursing and the patients/families/communities that we serve,” says Wendy Zubenko, EdD, MSN, RN, CS, current President of the Pennsylvania Chapter.

In order to keep members engaged at the local level, the chapter has created a structure of regional chairpersons throughout the state. “Regional Chairpersons coordinate local meetings and activities,” says Zubenko. “Each Regional Chairperson is a member of the APNA-PA Board of Directors, which fosters mentoring and leadership development.” PA Chapter President-Elect Kathryn M. Lindsay, MSN, RN adds, “We have a core of very loyal members who have supported the state chapter for years and they provide role modeling and mentoring in their region.” The Annual State Conference is rotated throughout each of the regions and the members in the region hosting the conference are responsible for coordinating it. As a result, “we have been able to provide quality education activities close to the members’ areas,” says Lindsay.

The chapter’s emphasis is on engaging with local communities as much as it is on recruiting fellow PMH nurses. “If I needed to sum it up in one sentence,” says Zubenko, “it would be that we bring APNA-PA into the community where our light can be seen.” Regions often “adopt local charitable causes (e.g. homeless shelter, women’s shelter, the Pittsburgh Gilda’s Club) and then work with them through the year, whether they need speakers, teaching about stress management, or collection of school supplies,” adds Zubenko. “Our regional meetings are open meetings and are often held at schools of nursing and local mental health facilities.”

At the state level, in addition to participation in numerous public service events, the chapter has partnered with the Director of Nursing at a large psychiatric hospital so that nurse orientations now include information about APNA and even membership applications. Members of the chapter are working to institute such partnerships at more hospitals across the state. Member enthusiasm helps too – “Our membership committee chair is enthusiastic and engages any psych nurse she comes in contact with to join APNA and understand the value of membership,” says Lindsay. In addition, the chapter created the APNA-PA Gail Stern Scholarship in 2010, which pays the way for a chapter member who has never been to an APNA Annual Conference to attend one. Finally, the chapter is involved in state legislation, having worked closely with the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA) to address Scope of Practice Legislation for the PMHCNS and with PSNA, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, & the PA State Board of Nursing to craft an APRN omnibus bill.

Of course, the chapter is elated to have this year’s APNA Annual Conference right at home in Pennsylvania! Zubenko says, “When Nick first announced that the 2012 APNA Conference was to be held in Pittsburgh it was like winning the bid for the Olympics! I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and it is an honor to welcome colleagues from around the world to my home. Pittsburgh is a dynamic, vital, clean, and friendly city with a long history of innovation. Pittsburgh is the perfect blend of east coast sophistication and mid-west friendliness. Pittsburgh is a fun city where you can see a Broadway show, enjoy a fabulous meal at a five-star restaurant, boat on one of the three rivers, enjoy a multitude of outdoor sports, visit a national museum, and of course watch a football game - Go Steelers!!”

If Zubenko’s enthusiasm is any indication, it promises to be a great time and we are excited to present the Pennsylvania Chapter with the APNA Award for Innovation – Chapter on their home turf!