APNA 26th Annual Conference Recap

We had a great time at the APNA 26th Annual Conference in Pittsburgh! Thanks to all of the over 1200 presenters and attendees for your part in making the conference a success - check out the pictures here. If you were unable to attend the conference, do not worry, sessions will be soon available in the APNA eLearning Center as podcasts and you can view the Poster Presentations in the Online Poster Gallery! In the meantime, here's a quick recap of what happened:

 

Patrick Kennedy
Wednesday, November 7th

Wednesday kicked off the conference with a day of outstanding pre-conference sessions, including a full day session devoted to piloting APNA's new Recovery to Practice curriculum. Throughout the day, attendees arrived to register and recieve their conference materials, which included (among other goodies) a signed copy of Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter's book, Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis. After an orientation for newcomers, volunteers, and new members that afternoon, President Marlene Nadler-Moodie officially opened the Annual Conference. As they gathered for the Opening Program, attendees picked up pins that read "Proud to be a Psych Nurse. Ask me what I do!", a message tied in with Nadler-Moodie's President's Address on fighting the stigmas associated with both mental illness and PMH nursing. The program included recognition of the APNA Annual Awards recipients, the President's Address, and the keynote Campaign to Implement Mental Health Parity by Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a passionate and public advocate for mental health. "Throughout the subsequent days of the conference, numerous members stopped me to chat about how inspired they were by Mr. Kennedy's presentation and particularly his message," says now Immediate Past President Marlene Nadler-Moodie.

   
   
Thursday, November 8th

Today's concurrent sessions started bright and early at 8:00am. The Poster Presentation winners were posted and the posters were available to view all day long starting at 10am. . After the first block of sessions, attendees browsed the poster presentations and attended several APNA Councils' Interactive Panels. A Symposium Luncheon was followed by a block of 20 minute mini-concurrent sessions, a new format. "Not all topics need 45 minutes and I liked the variety," said one attendee of these sessions. That afternoon, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter presented her Keynote, infusing her talk about her work to promote mental health throughout the world with fun anecdotes. After her keynote, President Marlene Nadler-Moodie presented Mrs. Carter with a Champion of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Award. The evening was open for attendees to browse the Exhibit Hall (which featured a flight simulator!), spend time viewing poster presentations, network, and attend their chapter meetings. The day ended with a Product Theater dinner.

APNA President presents Mrs. Carter with Award
   
Friday, November 9th

Friday opened with Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a Keynote Presentation by nursing leader Linda Burnes-Bolton. "I was particularly delighted with how much she specifically spoke about psychiatric nursing related to the IOM report," says Marlene Nadler-Moodie. Four blocks of concurrent sessions filled the rest of the day, with session tracks devoted to topics like research, sexual trauma, older adults, substance use, and more. Throughout the day attendees browsed the silent auction, poster presentations, and exhibit hall. After interactive panels, over 800 attendees donned their team colors, boarded buses, and headed to Heinz Field to a fun night of tailgate themed food, tours of the stadium, and dancing to a great zydeco band!

Linda Burnes-Bolton and Grayce Sills
   
Saturday, November 10th

The last day of the conference began with a screening of the American Psychiatric Nursing Foundation video, A Conversation with Grayce Sills. Sills then spoke herself, urging members to donate to the foundation so that we can preserve APNA’s history. The crowd was energized enough to pass around a hat right there on the spot! Each person who donated at the “silver”, “gold”, or “platinum” levels received a copy of the DVD and a special donor pin. After the final three blocks of concurrent sessions, President Marlene Nadler-Moodie opened the Annual Meeting and Town Hall. First was a review of the Annual Activity Report and feedback from members. Then Nadler-Moodie introduced the new members of the APNA Board of Directors and passed the presidency to now APNA President Beth Phoenix.

New APNA President Beth Phoenix
   
Some comments from 26th Annual Conference Attendees:

"At this point after attending my first conference I'm still awestruck. I'm more aware of the need for education, and promotion of our practice. I felt valued for the first time in a very long time, I was inspired and hope that my enthusiasm will encourage my peers."

"Stigma has become my new watch word. I had no idea how I saw my own patients and this gave me new insights. I also felt supported in my long-held notion that PMH nurses were stigmatized. The knowledge I gained will help me provide better care for my patients and I have been able to pass this new knowledge on to my colleagues. Our shared leadership committee is looking at implementing a post-hospitalization callback system."

"I will use this information to help guide me towards a graduate degree. This conference has affirmed i want to work in psychiatric nursing, now it's time to find a focus."

"I loved many of the speakers I saw. I feel that I have gained knowledge and a better understanding of certain processes due to the conference."