APNA President Mary Ann NihartAPNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  September 2016 Members' Corner Edition

Words of Affirmation



Back in 2009, this video of a little girl named Jessica giving herself a ‘daily affirmation’ in the mirror went viral. Her dynamic energy is contagious and she ends her affirmation confident and raring to go. That’s how I’d like us all to feel when my year as President officially ends at the APNA 30th Annual Conference next month: empowered and ready to unleash our inner leaders. Through my President’s Messages this year I have laid the groundwork. Now, I’m going to take a page out of Jessica’s book and reframe my message into an ‘affirmation’, if you will. I hope that you will read it, internalize it, rework it to make it yours, and share it…whatever suits your needs to help you grow as a leader and to get the word out!


I am a psychiatric-mental health nurse.

As a nurse, I am a member of the largest segment of the health care workforce. Because I am a nurse, the public trusts me, as demonstrated year after year by Gallup surveys. I use nursing theory and the nursing process as a basis for all of my interactions with patients. This means that I hear, see, and notice important details that are essential to care of the whole person. I do not see a disease or a deficiency, I see a person in the context of his or her life.

Leadership is a core component of my psychiatric-mental health nursing practice. My leadership is evident in the actions I take almost every day, actions like advocating for the individual who has schizophrenia who needs his lipids and glucose checked or maybe even basic foot or dental care. Many in health care might not want to see this patient, many may see his behavior as frightening, or worse. But I do not. I refuse to take no for an answer and instead persist until the person receives the services they need.

As a psychiatric-mental health nurse, the knowledge and qualities that form the basis for my practice are also what make me a unique and effective leader. I have expertise in multiple bodies of knowledge including medical science, neurobiology of psychiatric disorders, treatment methods, and relationship science. I bring an ability to practice the artful use of self to the table. Leaders see the whole picture. I holistically consider needs and strengths of individuals, families, groups, and communities. Compassion and respect are key values of my profession. These values also define my leadership.  

With the prevalence of psychiatric disorders across the lifespan, disparities in access to mental health services, and low treatment rates, I address a pressing need in my community. I push for a new treatment paradigm each time I emphasize prevention and early recognition. Through my use of recovery-oriented language, I not only fight the stigma of mental illness, I lead by example. I help guide our nation towards the goals of a healthy society.


I am a member of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.

As an APNA member, I have joined my voice with more than 10,000 other psychiatric-mental health nurses to promote wellness, prevent mental health problems, and advance the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric-mental health needs. I believe in inclusivity as a profession, which is why I joined a psychiatric-mental health nursing organization that is inclusive of ALL psychiatric-mental health nurses.

Through APNA, I have played a part in the development of programs that provide our profession with a core of evidence-based knowledge and practice to draw upon. I back affordable and accessible education to help psychiatric-mental health nurses assess, update, and articulate their practice – programs such as the APNA Transitions in Practice Certificate Program and the APNA Annual Conference. I have advocated for hope through my membership in an organization which developed the first Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Essential Competencies for the Assessment and Management of Suicide Risk and accompanying training. Through this association of professionals, I am fighting the opioid epidemic in our nation with free continuing education for all of my nursing colleagues. As an APNA member, I leverage my leadership, knowledge, and expertise to raise awareness and advance care for millions in need.

With me, APNA is one voice stronger in leading the way.


Thank you for an incredible year. I hope that you will be joining me at the APNA Annual Conference this October 19-22 in Hartford, Connecticut. It is there that we will see the culmination of this year’s theme, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Inspiring Leadership Every Day.


Mary Ann


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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.