Julie CarbrayJulie Carbray, PhD, FPMHNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, APN
2016 Award for Distinguished Service

For Julie Carbray, psychiatric-mental health nursing is more than a career: it is a home. In her role as professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Carbray is the only nurse member of the Department of Psychiatry’s faculty. “APNA has provided me with the nursing family I do not have in my work environment,” she says. “Through APNA I have felt connected to my professional nursing family, and I have appreciated the mentorship, inspiration, leadership and wisdom that so many of my APNA family members have provided across my career to date.” For her dedication to her association of professionals, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association has named Carbraythe recipient of the 2016 APNA award for Distinguished Service.

At a Glance
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Needs

Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
“A career in PMH nursing will always offer surprise, challenge, and abundant rewards.”

Favorite Color:
Blue (“For me it is always a sea of calm!”)

Carbray’s journey to psychiatric-mental health nursing began early. “My aunt is a person with schizophrenia, and as a child I would accompany my mother on visits to her at Elgin State Hospital in Illinois,” she says. “I was so curious about the patients, their stories, and the milieu of care that I wrote a paper in my junior year of high school on psychiatric nursing in the United States.” Fast forward to the present: In her role at UIC, Carbray leads a team through the Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic to address the care needs of youth with bipolar disorder. The efforts of this team have proven effectiveness, securing national funding and encouraging replication across the state.

Carbray’s leadership demonstrates the importance of interpersonal connections with the children to whom she provides care as well as their families. “She brings holistic, supportive, and encouraging approaches to families struggling with symptoms that are difficult to manage and adjusting to a child with a mental disorder of this degree,” says Ruth R. Staten in one of Carbray’s recommendations. “She uses her expertise at all levels of service to promote the well-being of children and adolescents experiencing mental illness.”

Carbray’s dedication extends beyond her career to her participation in APNA. Carbray has been a member for over 25 years and in that time she has used her expertise to help design programs for the nursing community. She has served on the planning committee for the Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute (CPI) since 2009 and became its Chair in 2011. “The CPI Committee truly understands the needs of our APNA members along with the draw of a program infused with science but informed by experienced care,” Carbray says. “I have learned so very much myself and have had a ton of fun as I have partnered with others across our organization in challenging ourselves to provide the most relevant information for our colleagues.”

Carbray is also the Chair of the APNA Child and Adolescent Council. Under her leadership, this council has grown to include new work groups, targeted workshops, and has drawn new members to APNA. “Dr. Carbray is the ideal leader as a strong prescriber and clinical scholar,” says Janet York in her nomination letter. “She is renowned for her innovative work as a child psychiatric nurse clinician, program manager, nurse researcher/scholar, and clinical educator in implementation research.” Additionally, Carbray is an active member of the APNA Illinois Chapter, having served as a Member-at-Large from 2008 to 2012 and as a Legislative Board Member from 2012 to 2016.

When asked about the future of psychiatric-mental health nursing, Carbray cannot contain her joy. “There are unlimited opportunities for new and varied practice environments and for advocacy around mental health wellness and care – I am so very excited for future PMHNs!” she says. “I strongly believe as nurses, we are closest to the cause: the experience of our patients and their families. A career in PMH nursing will always offer surprise, challenge, and abundant rewards.” We look forward to honoring Carbray’s enthusiasm and service to psychiatric-mental health nursing at the APNA 30th Annual Conference in October.


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