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Learn More About APNA

Since its founding in 1986, APNA has grown to be one of the largest professional membership organizations committed to the practice of psychiatric-mental health (PMH) nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems, and the care and treatment of persons with mental health and substance use disorders. APNA is the only PMH nursing organization whose membership is inclusive of all PMH nurses (RN) including associate degree (ADN), baccalaureate (BSN), and advanced practice (APRN).

APNA membership is comprised of approximately 50% Psychiatric Registered Nurses and 50% Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (includes both Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners). Members practice in a variety of settings, including inpatient, community, academic and research; in public, private and public health institutions; and in high level administrative positions at state and federal levels.

APNA carries out its mission through a member-elected Board of Directors. The nine-member Board governs the association through councils, committees, and task forces that address issues of importance to mental health and substance use care in the areas of nursing practice, education, research, administration and policy. For example, psychiatric-mental health nurses from across the country participated in the development of a portfolio of education to help address the current opioid crisis. The council, committee, and task force structure not only allows for input from content experts but also provides a grassroots approach to the dissemination of information to the psychiatric nursing community.

APNA is guided by a strategic direction that calls for collaborative relationships with stakeholders that can help guide advances in recovery-focused assessment, diagnosis, treatment and evaluation of persons with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. In accordance with this plan, APNA cultivates relationships with relevant organizations and provides opportunities for its members to disseminate research at national forums and attend educational programs. For example, upon the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in 2016, APNA partnered with the Providers Clinical Support System for Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) to provide – at no cost – the 24 hours of education required under the CARA Act for APRNs to obtain a DEA waiver to prescribe MAT for opioid use disorders.

APNA connects psychiatric-mental health nurses to a dynamic network of their colleagues. This network includes local chapters, as well as communities for active duty military and international members. Members communicate online, through conference calls, and at face-to-face meetings. This system allows for programs targeted to regional needs, as well as quick and wide distribution of education, standards, position papers, and materials to APNA members and constituents. APNA’s online community, Member Bridge, gives members the opportunity to participate in timely online discussions, share resources, and collaborate on the development of educational content. Perhaps most importantly, APNA members share expertise in engagement, trauma-informed care, recovery, suicide prevention, wellness promotion, violence prevention and more, through the variety of opportunities for participation in APNA.

APNA’s continuing education programs bring the latest developments in psychiatric-mental health research and practice to the PMH nursing community and the broader nursing community. As an accredited provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation, APNA offers both in-person and online continuing nursing education programs. Whether it’s the first competency based training on the assessment and management of suicide risk for PMH Nurses or a series of webinars that empower all nurses across specialties to address opioid use disorders, APNA education is instrumental in ensuring that nurses are prepared to provide high quality and up-to-date care that addresses public health needs. For example, in response to the growing suicide rates in America, APNA expanded its Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention offerings to include a training for nurses working in acute care settings and is now in the process of further expanding the program to include trainings targeted to specific populations.

APNA hosts several national conferences annually. The APNA Annual Conference is the largest gathering of PMH nurses in the US each year. This conference is an excellent vehicle to bring attention to an issue and initiate a program for change in practice or education. For targeted education on drug therapies, PMH nurses attend the APNA Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute. CPI provides cutting edge research and education related to psychiatric and substance use medications to nurses, most of whom have prescriptive authority.

Activities at the national and chapter level are augmented by APNA’s online education. The APNA eLearning Center provides all nurses with online access to nationally recognized speakers, with session recordings from APNA conferences and education specifically developed for dissemination online. In 2015, the association launched the APNA Transitions in Practice (ATP) Certificate Program, a self-paced online curriculum which delivers the most up-to-date foundational psychiatric mental health knowledge that RNs need as they transition into mental health settings. Institutions across the nation now use this program to help orient their new nurses and refresh the knowledge of their current PMH-RNs, ensuring that all staff have an understanding of current best practices foundational to effective psychiatric-mental health nursing care.

Building the nursing workforce is crucial to meeting the demands for mental health care nationwide. To that end, APNA seeks to attract nursing students and others who are contemplating a career in psychiatric-mental health nursing and offers enrichment to those already practicing. Through APNA Research Grants, nurses can obtain support for research that will advance the collective knowledge of the profession. In a similar fashion, the APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarship recognizes the accomplishments of nursing students, exposes them to new ways of thinking, and strengthens their professional networks.

APNA is also committed to disseminating state-of-the-art information to the widest possible audience of PMH nurses. In addition to its website and online community, APNA communicates with the more than 30,000 PMH nurses in its database through print and electronic media, a peer-reviewed journal, and a monthly newsletter. These communications report on issues of importance to PMH nursing, including legislation, regulation and policy; scientific research and emerging trends in health care; educational opportunities; and breaking news.

The Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (JAPNA) provides quality, up-to-date information to promote PMH nursing, improve mental health care for culturally diverse individuals, families, groups, and communities, as well as shape health care policy for the delivery of mental health services. JAPNA’s peer-reviewed articles provide the newest effective evidence-based nursing practices, innovative therapeutic approaches, significant information trends, and useful, clinically-focused research in PMH nursing and its related subspecialties. JAPNA has a circulation of 19,000+ subscribers and is indexed by Thomson Reuters with one of the highest impact factors of psychiatric-mental health nursing journals.