APNA President Susie AdamsAPNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  September 2015 Members' Corner Edition


September 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Throughout this past year as President I’ve focused on the pivotal time in health care at which we now find ourselves – and the opportunities presented to psychiatric-mental health nurses by this new landscape. We work within a complex system which presents us with a myriad of possible paths for us to make an impact. Collaborating across sectors of care, as well as within our own circles of practice is one of the ways that we can help evolve models of care. Such collaborations mean integrating many perspectives and a variety of approaches to produce innovative options which treat the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and meet the needs of a diverse patient population, ultimately improving clinical outcomes.

As I reach the end of my term, I’ve been looking back in amazement at the number of collaborative undertakings that have come to fruition at APNA this year. From the release of the first competencies to support PMH-RNs in suicide prevention to introducing a curriculum to help nurses transition into psychiatric-mental health to selecting a new editor for our journal, it has been a bountiful year.  As mental health, nursing, and APNA (now 10,000 nurses strong!) gain visibility the opportunities (and invitations) to sit, contribute, and make a difference at important policy tables increase.

I’d like to take this opportunity to look back at a couple of the tables at which collaborations have yielded some exciting results this year:

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Essential Competencies for Assessment and Management of Individuals At Risk for Suicide and the accompanying continuing education, Competency-Based Training for Suicide Prevention. With suicide the tenth leading cause of death, these first standard competencies on the topic for psychiatric-mental health registered nurses represent an important step towards helping inpatient PMH RNs, one of the largest members of the teams providing care to patients at risk for suicide, to address this public health crisis. The Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention furthers the mission by teaching nurses how to apply and integrate these competencies into their practice.

Upon the release of these competencies – and even before - nurses across specialties and settings were requesting that the competencies be modified for application in their practices. APNA, never one to turn down an opportunity to advance mental health in any setting, and recognizing the dire need for better suicide assessment and management education for all nurses, set up our own table and sent out invitations. We are starting with modifying and adapting the competencies for nurses in acute care hospital settings and critical care units, in collaboration with representatives from the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Similar to the development of the suicide competencies, the release of the APNA Transitions in Practice Program was the result of an immense team effort by the APNA Education Council’s Continuing Education Branch. By tapping into members whose fingers are on the pulse of orienting and educating RNs in psychiatric-mental health nursing, the workgroup created a comprehensive educational program that fills these nurses in on the foundational knowledge they need to feel confident in their practice. With 15 contact hours of self-paced online faculty presentations, case studies, and supplemental activities, it is the equivalent of one of those green superfood smoothies that give you all of your daily vitamins and antioxidants – ATP provides a massive amount of evidence based knowledge, best practices, and tools for PMH RN practice in an easily consumable format.

Under the visionary leadership of current Editor in Chief Karen Farchus Stein, our Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association received an impact factor and inclusion in Thomson Reuters indexing.  In chairing the search committee charged with identifying a candidate to succeed Dr. Farchaus Stein, I facilitated a collaboration with members whose backgrounds represented a veritable cross-section of our membership. Serving with these seven members over 18 months was one of the highlights of my year. Their commitment to finding a candidate who would maintain the scientific rigor and excellent reputation of JAPNA while ensuring that it meets the current needs of all psychiatric-mental health nurses was inspiring. It was with great pleasure and pride that I announced Geraldine Pearson as our new editor.

I was also fortunate to represent psychiatric-mental health nursing at a pretty big table - the Institute of Medicine Committee on Developing Evidence-Based Standards for Psychosocial Interventions for Mental Disorders. Working on the Psychosocial Interventions for Mental and Substance Use Disorders: A Framework for Establishing Evidence-Based Standards was an opportunity to insure that a nursing perspective was integrated into these recommendations for establishing standards to improve the outcomes of psychosocial interventions for persons with mental health and substance use disorders. For me, a key take away from that experience was the synergy of inter-professional collaboration and the need for nurses to seek opportunities to have a voice at policy tables at all levels of health care decision making. We need to be more visible and vocal in demonstrating our value as part of the mental health workforce implementing creative models of integrated, patient-centered, evidence-based care within a wellness and recovery context.

I have been humbled and inspired each day by the talent, dedication, and innovative ideas of APNA nurses.

Serving as APNA President this past year, I have been humbled and inspired each day by the talent, dedication, and innovative ideas of APNA nurses. From active daily postings and dialogues on Member Bridge, to monthly council and institute conference calls, to quarterly updates from council and institute co-chairs, to thoughtful monthly Board of Director calls, to participating in the Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute and Annual APNA Conference, to reading the latest issue of JAPNA, to supporting dissemination of the work of councils, to checking the latest offerings through our eLearning Center, and sending APNA representatives to various organizational and policy tables - APNA members are on the move! Many know that I am a “blue water sailor” and so I am grateful for my year “at the helm” of this amazing organization of psych nurses. At the conclusion of the October APNA Annual Conference I will pass the “helm” over to President Mary Ann Nihart who will capably help us navigate the year ahead. I ask that you join me in giving her your wholehearted support. There is no better time than the present to be a psych nurse!

I’ll say farewell with one last sailing metaphor:

“The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects the wind to change;
The leader adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward                                                                      

With best wishes for the continued success of APNA, our members, and those we serve,


Susie Adams, PhD, RN, PMHNP, FAANP

AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION and APNA-Logoare registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as trademarks of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
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.