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Frequently Asked Questions About APNA Councils

Three Members DiscussingReady to connect with psychiatric-mental health nurses over a specific focus area or interest? APNA has councils organized around a variety of topic areas and members are able to join the advisory panels of any and all of the councils that spark their interest. See some frequently asked questions about joining, participating, and leadership in APNA Councils below.

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What is the difference between a Council, a Committee, and a Task Force?

Councils are groups of APNA members organized to enhance APNA’s mission through a series of focused endeavors. As thought leaders, Councils study and review issues pertinent to their area(s) of interest and expertise and make recommendations to the board for:

Committees carry out specific functions assigned by the Board of Directors. For example, The Scholarly Review Committee reviews all abstracts submitted for the Annual Conference.

Task Forces are appointed by the Board of Directors to study a specific issue that has a global effect on psychiatric-mental health nursing. An example would be a Task Force with a goal to write a position paper on workplace violence. A Task Force usually has a single objective and a short-lived duration. Task Forces study and review issues pertinent to the charge given to the Task Force by the Board of Directors and make recommendations to the Board of Directors such as a position or policy statement or new programs and activities.

How are Councils structured?

Each Council has a Steering Committee, which is generally composed of a chair and 3-10 additional members. The Chairs and Associate Chairs of the Council are appointed by the APNA Board of Directors and have a 3-year renewable term. The duties of these leaders are outlined here. The APNA President appoints the rest of the members of the Steering Committee, basing their choices on recommendations from the Council Chairs and ensuring that members are not serving concurrently on multiple Steering  Committees. Steering Committee members have 1-year renewable terms.

Councils also have an Advisory Panel, composed of members interested in the Council’s area of focus. Members can join Advisory Panels by adding themselves to the Advisory Panel’s community on Member Bridge and can participate for as long as they continue their APNA membership.

In addition, a Council may form a branch in order to focus on a certain endeavor, topic, issue, or request from the Board of Directors.

What is the function of a Steering Committee?

As its name indicates, a Steering Committee guides the council and coordinates its activities, ensuring that they are aligned with the APNA Strategic Plan and that they fall within the general charge for councils. The Steering Committee also manages the coordination of any specific requests from the Board and keeps the Board apprised of its progress. The Steering Committee is responsible for the Council’s meeting at the APNA Annual Conference and for creating a succession plan that ensures that the Council has an enduring leadership structure. Members of a Steering Committee usually meet monthly via conference call.

What is the function of an Advisory Panel?

A Council’s Advisory Panel serves as a group of interested members who monitor, internally and externally, issues relevant to their area of interest in order to inform and advise the Board of Directors. Members of the Advisory Panel may be called upon by the Steering Committee to do such things as respond to surveys, evaluate position papers, ensure that web pages are up to date, or conduct literature reviews. In addition, Advisory Panel members are encouraged to use the Member Bridge community to engage in discussions, ask questions, and share resources regarding the Council’s focus area (see the Member Bridge User’s Guide). Advisory Panel members may also be called upon, based upon their expertise and experience, to serve on a Task Force.

How do I join an advisory panel?

Where is my Council on the website?

If you are a member of a Council, visit the Council homepage. Find your Council’s name to navigate to its Steering Committee and Advisory Panel communities on Member Bridge, view a listing of Council members, and see a description of the Council.

What is the best way to communicate with the members of my Council?

Your APNA Member Bridge community is the best way to communicate with your fellow Council members. Each Council has its own Steering Committee community (private and only viewable to Steering Committee members) and Advisory Panel community (viewable to all APNA members). When you post a message in the community’s online discussion, all members of the community will receive an email that contains your message. For instructions on how to use Member Bridge, see the Member Bridge User’s Guide.

Note: For Steering Committee members, it is advisable to cross-post your comments to both the Steering Committee community and the Advisory Panel community. See page 18 of the Member Bridge User’s Guide for instructions.

My Council wants to be more active – what can we do?

The more active and engaging the Chairs and Steering Committee of a Council are, the more participation you will get from your Advisory Panel and the APNA membership at large. Here are some suggestions for how to engage your Council members:

  • Conduct a survey (Councils can survey their own members, but surveys of the entire membership must go through the Board via a briefing paper. Please view the APNA policy on member surveys for more info.)
  • Review an APNA Position Paper to determine if it requires an update.
  • Monitor the environment – identify any issues that APNA may need to address.
  • Conduct literature reviews.

Please also see the suggestions within the General Council Charge.

My Council has identified a topic or issue that we believe merits the attention of the Board and action by APNA. What do we do?

Any activity that is not included in the General Council Charge should be submitted to the Board via a briefing paper.

A briefing paper provides the Board of Directors with a short summary of the issue, the background, and the recommended action. It need not take more than 15 minutes to complete. See the briefing paper template and examples here.

To submit a briefing paper:

  • Email the briefing paper to
  • The briefing paper will be circulated to council chairs via the InterCouncil Community on Member Bridge.
  • The briefing paper will be reviewed by the Board.
  • The Board will provide a formal response to the Council Chairs.

What resources are provided to Council chairs and steering committees?

Conference Calls

APNA staff will assist with scheduling a call and informing your Council members of the final date and time. To poll your Council members for a mutually agreeable date and time (optional), email to request a survey and provide a couple of dates and times. Staff will set up the survey and send it out to your Council members.

When a date and time have been selected, Outlook appointments will be sent with the toll-free number and instructions on how to connect to the conferencing service. Reminders for your call will be sent out the day of or the day before the call. Templates for an agenda and the preferred format for meeting minutes can be found here.

Member Bridge Community

There is a community on Member Bridge for all Council Chairs called the InterCouncil Community. Use it to network and share information with others in similar APNA volunteer positions. This community is also used to inform Councils of branches or task forces created to address an issue that may also be relevant to their topic area(s) and to keep them apprised of pertinent APNA updates.

Regular Conference Calls for Council Chairs

Conference calls with all Council Chairs are usually held in January, May, and September in advance of each Board meeting. Information for calls will be sent via email and/or posted to the InterCouncil Community on Member Bridge. Agenda items are requested about 30 days in advance of each call and minutes are posted to the community afterwards.


If you would like to survey the members within your council, APNA staff will be happy to create an online survey for you to disseminate. Please send a request to with the survey text along with text and a response deadline for the email that will accompany the survey. Once you have approved the survey format, the email will be sent out. Reminders will also be sent to your audience and you will receive the survey responses once the deadline has passed.

Annual Conference Meeting Space

Councils have the opportunity to reserve a room for a face-to-face meeting during the Annual Conference. Requests should be sent to

Web Presence

Your Council’s presence on the APNA website is maintained by APNA staff, however it is the Council’s responsibility to monitor the page to ensure that it includes the most up-to-date and relevant content. Any time you would like to update the content, suggest a resource, or have a problem/question, email

Council Recruitment

The Council Chair can work with APNA staff to recruit new members or audit current members as to their interest in remaining in their positions. Please send a request to Your request will be forwarded to the APNA President for review and approval.

Once approved by the President, APNA staff will contact you for text for an email announcement and create an online response form. Staff will send follow up emails and, after the deadline, will send you a summary of the response data along with any backup documentation you requested.

When you (the Council Chair) have chosen the candidates for your Council Steering Committee, please submit a list with any background information to Your list will be forwarded to the APNA President for approval. Once approved, a letter and e-mail will be sent to each person.

Letters to Those Who Have Served

APNA staff will send a letter under the President’s signature recognizing the member’s service and contributions to the Council.

Board Reports

Councils are asked to provide an update/report to the Board of Directors for Board meetings. Council Chairs will receive requests to submit your information via an online form.

I need help. Whom should I contact?

All correspondence with national should be directed to – we are here to answer your questions, offer resources, and provide guidance!