Supporting the mental and physical well-being of others runs in the family for Barbara Jones Warren. “My father was the head of a department at a facility that had both physical and mental health recovery,” she recalls. “I spent a lot of time with him and the patients. I knew at 6 years of age that this was what I wanted to be!” For a career dedicated to caring for persons with mental health needs and her work to deliver care to underserved populations, Barbara Jones Warren is the 2016 APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year.
Warren exemplifies what it means to be a nurse by combining biopsychosocial and cultural contexts with her knowledge of human behavior. For more than 20 years, Warren’s research interests have centered on providing care to vulnerable and diverse populations. While completing her PhD, Warren published six refereed-articles on the subject of depression in the African American community, including studies on the homeless. She initiated a broadcast series on mental health and wellness strategies for African American women in 2007. This series continues to air across the country. Warren even developed and published the first model for assessing depression in middle class African American women.
|At a Glance|
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Cultural competence; diverse populations
Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
“Learn as much as you can."
Additionally, Warren has devoted her career to identifying and enhancing standards of cultural competence in both student and practicing nurses. “[Because of Dr. Warren], I can speak personally to changes that have occurred in the understanding of psychiatric nurses about the role of cultural diversity in providing appropriate services to persons with mental illness,” says Jeanne Clement, one of Warren’s nominators. “It also reflects respect for colleagues from diverse backgrounds.” Warren recognizes that diverse populations are often underserved, so she has tailored her education, practice, and research arenas to address this need. “I was raised in a very diverse environment that included diversity of thought as well as race, ethnicity, and all other ways that persons define themselves,” she explains. “I felt that culture was so important and that we all layer cultures throughout our journeys in life. It seemed natural that I would learn more and enculturate this into my care.”
Warren also uses her passion for nursing to help shape the future of psychiatric-mental health care in her role as a Clinical Professor at the Ohio State University (OSU) College of Nursing. Warren led the development of OSU’s online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program and was named Director of the program after serving as interim Director in 2013-2014. “Dr. Warren’s dedication to improving the mental health of the state is reflected in her resolve to offer a quality program that prepares students to be successful clinicians,” Bernadette Melnyk says of Warren’s work at OSU. “[She works] to make graduate education more accessible for nurses in rural and underserved areas as well.” Warren’s passion for teaching is clear in her advice to future psychiatric-mental health nurses. “Get as much education as you can, take care of yourself, connect with other PMH nurses,” she lists. “Ground yourselves in recovery principles and other evidence that can provide collaborative care with consumers.”
For Warren, being named APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year was reflective of a career spent learning from those around her and honing her craft. “I am touched and humbled to be recognized by my peers, the persons that I feel have helped me stand on their shoulders to grow and develop.” We look forward to celebrating Warren’s achievements in October at the 30th Annual Conference. In providing care to underserved populations and guaranteeing the bright future of psychiatric nursing, Warren is truly an inspiration.