Barbara Drew, PhD, PMHCNS-BC
2011 APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year

APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year Barbara Drew, PhD, PMHCNS-BC has truly demonstrated vision, perseverance, dedication, initiative and facilitation in her work with APNA and psychiatric mental health nursing as a whole.  Over the past year and a half, she has co-chaired the APNA-ISPN LACE Task Force with Mary Jo Regan-Kubinski and Pat Cunningham, working to transform the confusing muddle of advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing licensure, accreditation, certification, and education into a clear and uniform system that aligns with the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation. She says that it has been a challenging but rewarding experience. “The best part of the experience was the regular interaction with psychiatric nursing leaders across the nation who have a passion for quality mental health services and for psychiatric nursing,” she says. “It was an honor.” Of her work as co-chair, one of Drew’s colleagues who was on the task force says, “From the beginning…Barb demonstrated her ability to visualize a need for a future where the public would have a clear understanding of what advanced nursing practice is, who advance practice psychiatric mental health nurses are, and a more coherent conception of what to expect from these practitioners.”

Co-chairing this task force meant putting the psychiatric nursing profession above personal priorities, wading through competing interests, overcoming resistance, and understanding all points of view. Drew and her co-chairs skillfully fostered an atmosphere of open dialogue and inclusiveness as they worked to reach an accord on what the future of advanced practice PMH nursing should look like. She developed strong relationships with the other two co-chairs, one of whom was new to APNA and the other of whom was new to holding a leadership position in APNA. The Task Force successfully bridged the challenges inherent in such a controversial matter and both APNA’s and ISPN’s Boards of Directors approved their consensus model in March. “The challenge was that the outcome of a consensus process is generally a compromise – suggesting that most, if not all, members of the task force were not perfectly happy with all elements of the recommendations,” Drew explains. “We had to think of the greater good rather than our individual or regional interests.” Drew did exactly this when she did not allow her own professional success in establishing a child and adolescent psychiatric nursing program at Kent State University to influence her position on the task force and its recommendations.

Working with the APRN Consensus Model and LACE, Drew constantly had to consider the current direction of psychiatric mental health nursing as a profession – and she is optimistic about what the future holds. “I believe this is a very exciting time for psychiatric nursing,” she says. “Employers and the public are increasingly aware of the value of PMH APNs. There is great potential for PMH APNs to integrate mental health services in primary care settings.” Always balanced in perspective, she sees current challenges too. “PMH nurse in inpatient settings, though, are facing more challenges with shorter lengths of stay and high patient acuity, limiting opportunities for the development of therapeutic relationships. In my perfect world, PMH RNs would have the time to have lengthy 1:1s with each of their patients during the shift and facilitate the psychoeducational groups on the unit.” Vision like this is what keeps psychiatric nursing moving forward into the future.

Drew has either worked as a psychiatric nurse, taught psychiatric nursing, or researched psychiatric nursing her entire career. She decided that she wanted to be a psychiatric nurse after a rewarding clinical experience in a state hospital during her time as a student in a diploma program. “Even though most of my teachers discouraged my interest in moving into psychiatry immediately after graduation, I did,” she remembers. “I was fortunate in that my psychiatric nursing instructor guided me to apply for a position at a hospital that had comprehensive and highly regarded psychiatric services.” She is currently an Associate Professor at the College of Nursing at Kent State University. Besides serving as a co-chair of the LACE Task Force, she also served as APNA President during the 2006-2007 year. We are incredibly grateful for her service and leadership throughout the years in both the association and the profession. “Perhaps she could take on Social Security and Medicare next -” her colleague jokes, “-a breeze after LACE!”