Michael Rice, PhD, APRN, FAAN
2018 Award for Distinguished Service

Michael Rice“If we could clone Michael we could possibly rule the world,” says Jeanne Clement, who nominated Michael Rice for the 2018 APNA Award for Distinguished Service. From academic writing to research to community advocacy, Michael has inspired nurses and earned accolades. But, he says his lifetime of achievements mean one thing: “That I’m getting old,” he jokes.

At a Glance
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Patient and PMH nursing advocacy; Mentoring

Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
“Learn all you can about your passion, be responsible to what it means to be a psych nurse. You’ve got to get involved. You can’t expect people to do it for you.”

How He Makes Every Day Extraordinary:
“I absolutely adore my decaf coffee. We’re not talking life without it...my wife buys some out of Kansas that is amaretto almond. In the morning, you just die with it."

The APNA Award for Distinguished Service recognizes an APNA member for commitment and exceptional service to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. Michael has cultivated his role within APNA over the years and is one of its staunchest advocates. “This [organization] is about the patients and about making ourselves the best we can for the patients,” he says. “It is truly grassroots and it truly is us, and it’s been my family for a very long time.”  In her nomination letter, Mary Moller says, “APNA is part of Michael’s lifeblood.”

While too many to list out, here are a few highlights of Michael’s contributions to APNA: Michael served on the APNA Board of Directors for three terms as Member-at-Large where he was known as the “voice of reason” in discussion. He played a crucial role in the revitalization of the APNA Colorado Chapter in 2014 to promote psychiatric-mental health nursing in his local community. He has mentored many nurses via the APNA Mentor Match Program. He is an active member of the Advisory Panels for the Council for Mental Health Advocacy and the Council for Safe Environments as well as the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Editorial Board and the APNA Foundation Committee. And the list goes on…

Outside of APNA, Michael is currently endowed chair and tenured professor at the University of Colorado. “I like [that] my job has enough of everything I’m interested in,” he says. In her nomination, Jeanne Clement writes of Michael’s varied expertise, “Dr. Rice is the perfect example of a scholar, leader, teacher, clinician, mentor and role model. His scholarship, clinical practice, and community work focus on the total life span, and include issues such as neo-natal outcomes for abused women, child mental health assessments, recovery and suicide prevention for veterans, geropsychopharmacology, and integrated care.”

Michael applies his expertise to advance psychiatric-mental health nursing in a variety of arenas. He has worked with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Mental Health America, the Global Mental Health Partnership, and the National Institute of Health. He has organized expert panels and task forces to address issues at the local, state, and national levels, advocating for the psychiatric-mental health nursing workforce. “His work to increase the presence of psychiatric nurses in rural and underserved communities is groundbreaking,” says Clement.

For the next generation of nurses, Michael’s advice is to: “Learn all you can about your passion. Be responsible to what it means to be a psych nurse. You have to get involved. You can’t expect people to do it for you.” Michael lives this philosophy, as his students attest. Michael has been a dedicated mentor for numerous students, including Audrey Strock. “Dr. Rice is the Godfather of the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program,” she says. “[He] is always there when you need it.” Bailie Cronin agrees, and says that Michael “excels as an educator in the psychiatric NP program.” Michael especially seeks out opportunities for mentorship when attending APNA conferences. “Every time you turn around at a conference, you can see him involved in speaking, organizing others, attending sessions, working with Board Scholars, meeting with the student cohort he always brings, or just enjoying a one-on-one with a close colleague and an iced mocha,” says Moller.

Despite his achievements and the respect he has earned within the community, Michael says, “I’m just an old cowboy getting off the range who did not get lost in the city.” For all the work he has done for psychiatric-mental health nursing, we are thrilled to celebrate this cowboy’s achievements at the APNA 32nd Annual Conference this October 24-27 in Columbus, Ohio.

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