Clinical Pearls in Psychopharmacology with Dr. Mary Gutierrez

APNA 9th Annual CPI - Recap

Last month, over three hundred psychiatric mental health care nurses gathered in Reston, Virginia for the APNA 9th Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute. The program was built around the theme of recovery from pain, distress, and suffering across the lifespan and featured a superb lineup of psychiatric nurses, pharmacologists, consumers, and doctors as speakers. Highlights included a new preconference, some great keynote presentations, and a few novel ways of conveying psychopharmacological information.

Dr. Barbara Limandri's pre-conference session Guide to Rational Prescribing: Neurophysiology and Drug Mechanisms of Action started the conference off strong. She briefed attendees on rational, symptom-based prescribing, the effects that drugs have on brain pathways and behaviors, and provided a great synopsis of neurophysiology and its relationship to treatment. Attendees left the session with concrete ways to apply a neurophysiology-based approach to prescribing to their practice.

Friday's program featured a wide variety of sessions packed with valuable information for nurse prescribers. Recovery-focused presentations by Kevin Huckshorn, RN, MSN, CAP ICADC and consumer speakers Allen Conover and M.C. Violet Taylor reinforced attendees’ focus on person-centered care. (Stay tuned for more on recovery content at CPI in an upcoming feature.) Colleen Blanchfield, MD’s inventive interactive session on migraines used visual aids and audience participation to "act out" the complex physiology of a migraine headache. This creative approach kept the audience engaged and made the information understandable and memorable.

The Saturday morning keynote presentation by Dr. Mary Moller, Recovery and Adherence: Illness Cognition from Anosognosia to Adjustment, explored a broad spectrum of topics from her research on illness cognition and the recovery process. It featured a review of new drugs available for the treatment of psychosis, as well as practical methods to educate and encourage patients. Relevant to nurses in all settings, her presentation reinforced how research can impact clinical practice.

In a fun departure from the lecture format, Dr. Mary Gutierrez modeled her session, Clinical Pearls in Psychopharmacology, after the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Volunteers from the audience posed as contestants and answered questions that covered topics such as drug interactions and the CYP450 system and pharmacokinetics. The questions and answers provided a review of important pharmacology clinical pearls and introduced new information based upon the latest research.

Sunday morning's keynote speaker, Dr. Howard Heit, spoke about care and chronic pain management in his Defensible, Rational, and Compassionate Pain Management presentation. He used practical analogies as well as his own inspiring personal story to inform attendees about the assessment and treatment of both chronic pain and addiction/dependence issues in individuals with mental illness. The presentation emphasized the importance of coordinating psychiatric care closely with pain management.

For more information about the array of topics presented at CPI, visit the CPI Program online. Podcasts of all of the CPI sessions will be available in the APNA eLearning Center in the near future.  CPI attendees will have free access to these podcasts for a limited amount of time, and non-attendees will have the option of purchasing individual ones. Thanks to everyone who came to the conference and also to all of our speakers, who covered the latest developments in psychopharmacology in an engaging way particularly applicable to psychiatric mental health nursing.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.


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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.