December 2009

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice

A Message from the President


December 2009

Dear Psychiatric Nursing Colleagues:

As I write my first article for the newsletter it has been eight weeks since our most successful annual conference ever and the holiday season is upon us. Over 1000 psychiatric nurses from 46 states (including AK & HI), the District of Columbia, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon and the UK gathered October 13-16, 2009 in the historic city of Charleston, SC. Conference attendees participated in more than 80 presentations and earned up to 29.5 continuing nursing education contact hours. Keynote speakers provided national and international perspectives on issues in psychiatric mental health nursing to onsite attendees and to an additional audience via live webcast. I am honored, privileged, and humbled to serve as your President as we close out the first decade of the 21st century and am excited to lead us into the second.

My theme for 2010 is Advocacy: Psychiatric Nurses Reaching for the Stars. The word advocacy was coined in the 15th century, the beginning of the Renaissance-a French word that means re-birth. This period in history was marked by the development of humanism, self-awareness, the emergence of scientific thought, religious reform, and creation of some of the most beautiful works of art, music, and literature. APNA is also experiencing a Renaissance as we capitalize on the advantages of the internet and launch Member Bridge, our social networking site in which we are instantly in communication with colleagues through a variety of discussion boards.

Advocacy is defined by Webster as the action of advocating, pleading for, or supporting a cause or proposal. In 2001, Cohen defined advocacy as the pursuit of influencing outcomes — including public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions — that directly affect people’s current lives. This means speaking out on behalf of and for individuals who may or may not be able to speak for themselves. In this capacity psychiatric nurses advocate for the most underserved and marginalized people in our society. This is often not viewed as popular or even desirable. In fact, I not only experienced opposition from legislators when attempting to advocate for increased Medicaid services (over the 540 minutes of care per 12 months for individuals with serious and mental illnesses) but also was accused of being self-serving. We must continue to bring real mental health issues to the legislative table with a clear message and a vision for change. As we move forward in history, psychiatric mental health nurses will continue to be positioned as advocates and leaders in a transitioning health care system.

I am engaging in a three-pronged approach to advocacy and invite each of you to adopt at least one of these areas for personal advocacy in the work place, in your community, state, and even nationally through participation in APNA activities.

1. Advocacy for safe environments — psychiatric nurses put themselves at increased risk each day in the care of individuals with acute neurobiological disorders who may lose control and become aggressive. The Institute for Safe Environments has taken up where the Task Force on Seclusion and Restraint and the Task Force on Workplace Violence left off. Both produced positions adopted by the APNA board and the ISE is working to advance those positions.

2. Advocacy for psychiatric nurses — The tag line of the APNA is Your Resource for Psychiatric Nursing—the APNA is OUR organization and our new Strategic Plan outlines the goals and strategies. There is a place for everyone with an interest and passion. If you have an idea, concern, or passion, there is a place for you. Who knows—you may even end up Chair of a new task force to carry out your idea. To check out the APNA Strategic Plan visit Additionally, APNA is working to build a library of resources including online continuing nursing education, enhancing resources to strengthen communication among APNA members and revitalizing state chapters to include all areas of the country and the military. (See links below).

3. Advocacy for our profession — APNA is on top and integrally involved in national policy developments in health care reform and in the launch of the Wellstone-Domenici mental health parity bill. We have key members who participate at the national level as members of the Campaign for Mental Health Reform and on CPT code review that will influence payment for psychiatric services. For more information on national policy and health care issues visit the Health Care Reform Involvement page on the APNA website.

When you read this we will all have celebrated Thanksgiving, 2009. WE have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful to each of you and look forward to seeing and hearing from many of you as we close out 2009 and begin 2010. If you haven’t already, please make plans to join all of the APNA board and your peers in Louisville, KY October 13-16 for the 24th Annual Conference.

Important Member Links:
Member Bridge: Log in and get connected today!
APNA Strategic Plan:
Continuing Education:
Institutes and Councils:

Cohen, D., R. de la Vega, G. Watson. 2001. Advocacy for social justice. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press Inc.

Best Wishes,


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The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.