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Linda Beeber, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN

2020 APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year

For Linda Beeber, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, psychiatric-mental health nursing is a passion fueled by the desire for equity. “I think the sense of unfairness in the world really has been at my core all the way along,” she says. “I felt it was unfair the way people with mental illnesses were treated. I thought it was unfair the way people of different races and ethnicities were treated. I thought it was unfair the way people of different genders and gender expression were treated. And that has been a driver all along and shapes the various places I put my energy: just trying to right that in the world.” A champion of underserved communities and a fierce advocate for psychiatric-mental health nurses, Linda is the 2020 APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year.

Linda serves as an Associate Dean at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Nursing and served as APNA President from 2017-2018. “Dr. Beeber is not only an effective leader, but also an inspirational role model for a new generation of clinicians, scholars, and students,” says Patricia D’Antonio, who nominated Linda. “Dr. Beeber’s skill is recognizing where others are in particular stages in their development, and in helping them articulate the directions that they want to go.”

Linda has devoted much of her research career to the mother-child dyad and family mental health, particularly those in underserved communities. “Her studies of Hildegard Peplau’s Interpersonal Theories of Nursing fueled the belief that every nurse could be a therapeutic agent of change,” says her colleague Madeline Naegle. Linda’s research on nurse home visits for economically hardshipped mothers experiencing depression and anxiety has provided the evidence base for system-wide changes in maternal mental health.

She is currently scaling up her research through a partnership with the Nurse-Family Partnership® to deliver care to high-risk mothers and children. “It is sort of finishing up the program I started 20 years ago,” she says, “and that is really rewarding.” According to D’Antonio, Linda’s body of research is “one of the most significant contributions to public mental health in a generation”, in that it “provides “a ‘road map’ that clinicians and mothers can travel together toward healthier outcomes for themselves and their babies…The impact is immeasurable.”

Linda is also a tireless advocate for psychiatric-mental health nurses throughout the healthcare system, encouraging her colleagues to increase the visibility of their work and take pride in their impact. “She simply assumes she has a legitimate seat at whatever table – research, policy, leadership – she finds herself, and assumes others will recognize that legitimacy. And they do!” says D’Antonio.

One such seat was Linda’s role on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC), which was established in 2017 by the 21st Century Cures Act to better coordinate mental health care for individuals with serious mental illness. As the only psychiatric-mental health nurse to serve on this committee, Linda provided a unique perspective informed by the ingenuity and strength of her profession. “[Linda] has challenged the status quo and established a firm foothold,” says Naegle. “She has role modeled taking on difficult challenges [and] is an articulate advocate for psychiatric nursing in interprofessional, government, and regulatory agencies and challenges colleagues, students, and mentees to act.”