Anne Kelly, RN
2012 Award for Excellence in Leadership ~ Generalist

So many of the qualities that make a great leader coincide with qualities that make a great psychiatric mental health nurse: the ability to inspire and motivate, the ability to serve, the ability to feel compassion.... John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Anne Kelly, recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – Generalist, views the psychiatric nursing profession in similar terms, describing it as “one of the best areas of nursing in which to serve by giving of ourselves, sharing our strengths, and inspiring hope and healing at times of despair and hopelessness.” She continues, “While we serve in many different ways – from assessing, teaching, administering, treating – it is this direct opportunity to serve others who truly need our compassion and understanding of mental health that keeps me a nurse.” 

Anne Kelly, RN is a Regional Director with Acadia Healthcare in Florida. As a Regional Director, she shares resources, develops policies and procedures, and participates in survey preparations and analysis of survey responses. She works directly with the administrative teams – including nursing leadership – in their work ensuring the patients are provided safe care of the highest quality. She leads by supporting and motivating not just the patients she serves, but also her fellow nurses. One of the most memorable aspects of her career, she says, “has been the opportunity to work with hospital administrations to support the work they do and to develop resources that assist PMH nurses in their practice.”

Anne Kelly served as co-chair of the APNA task force that wrote the staffing position paper approved by the Board of Directors in September of 2011. By investing so much of her time in co-chairing this task force, she took part in helping fellow leaders in nursing to face the challenge of maintaining optimal safe staffing levels in a time where finances are tight and the workforce is small. She takes a very team-focused view of her role in the process. “I assisted in coordinating the development of the papers through the collaborative efforts of our task force,” she says. Kathleen R Delaney, PhD, PMH-NP, FAAN speaks of the “rich knowledge” that Kelly brought to the task force and how, thanks to her background in addition to her leadership abilities, “she demonstrated a remarkable ability to speak to both administrative issues as well as the staff nurse’s concerns.”  Regarding her leadership abilities specifically, Delaney remembers that “her unique leadership talents were on display in how she organized the group, assured inclusion of each member‘s ideas and then brought this complex project in on time.” 

Below, Kelly discusses a standout point in her career and her perspective on current issues facing the psychiatric mental health profession:

What are a couple of points that stand out for you in your career?

In particular, a standout has been in collaborating with nurses in performance improvement projects that improve care and sustain the safest and highest levels of clinical outcomes. I have also had the tremendous honor of working with hospital and corporate leadership throughout my career that supported and furthered my practice as a nurse. 

What are some of the important issues facing PMH nursing right now and in what direction do you see them going?

Some important issues facing PMH nursing are in nurses finding their place as drivers of healthcare practices and in feeling empowered to share their experiences and expertise as deliverers of care.  PMH nurses need to know that they are an essential part of the solution in the challenges we face. Furthering our education and training is important, as well as looking for the ways to share the valuable training we all receive at the bedside and in the process of caring for our patients.