Karen J. Foli, PhD, RN, FAAN
2018 Award for Excellence in Media

Karen Foli "Go for it," was Karen Foli's response when she saw there was no comprehensive textbook for advanced practice nurses who treat adoptive and kinship families. Her book, Nursing Care of Adoption and Kinship Families: A Clinical Guide for Advanced Practice Nurses, makes the connection between an existing body of research and real-world strategies. For writing this inclusive manual for use by practitioners, Foli is the recipient of the 2018 APNA Award for Media.

At a Glance
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Teaching, research and mentoring

Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
"There has never been a better time to be a nurse and there’s never been a better time to be an advanced practice nurse. PMHNs are desperately needed and can make a significant impact in their patients’ lives by being nurses!"

How She Makes Every Day Extraordinary:
“I set short term goals that feed into my long term goals. I seek gratitude for my gifts and blessings by accepting my past, living in my present, and being at peace with my future."

As an adoptive parent of a daughter herself, Karen knew firsthand the barriers adoption and kinship families encounter when seeking health care. “I grew accustomed to being treated as an outsider or dismissed as a tangential part of her family rather than a legitimate parent. I would leave the offices frustrated and angry. The providers’ indifference to my input and dismissal of of the information I shared, negatively influenced the care she received.”

She also realized that there was already published research  on the particular needs of these groups. “I knew these families were special groups with unique psychiatric and social needs. Nursing scholars and researchers, such as Teena McGuinness and Carol Musil, had significant bodies of evidence that needed to be presented in a comprehensive way that could be consumed by practitioners,” she explains. Not only a guide for treatment, the book also serves a broader purpose. “The content of the book is designed to inform psychiatric-mental health nurses about the familial and social dynamics of adoptive and kinship families – dynamics that often shape their healthcare adherence and needs.”

One of her nominators, Janelle Potetz, sees the publication of this textbook as timely: “Being an advance practice nurse working in rural America with limited mental health access, I envision this book being widely used by my peers when caring for kinship families. In the current opioid crisis across the United States, many grandparents are now raising grandchildren who may have experienced previous trauma. Advanced practice nurses now have a book, supported by evidence-based research, to guide care for these kinship families.”

Foli finds special meaning in receiving this award. “As an author, you wonder how your work will be received, and more importantly, the impact it will have on the profession, colleagues, students, and others. I have such high regard for the APNA and that makes the award an incredible honor,” she says.

As an associate professor at Purdue University School of Nursing, West Lafayette, Indiana, she is engaged in teaching, conducting research and directing the PhD program in nursing, all of which she finds rewarding. To Foli, however, her role as mentor tops the list. “I enjoy 'paying it forward' with new faculty and students who interface directly with patients. In teaching, conducting studies, and mentoring, I try to change the way people analyze and view their worlds.”

In fact, Foli is optimistic when considering advice for future nurses: “There has never been a better time to be a nurse and there’s never been a better time to be an advanced practice nurse. PMHNs are desperately needed and can make a significant impact in their patients’ lives by being nurses.”

Foli’s work will be celebrated at the APNA 32nd Annual Conference this fall in Columbus, Ohio.

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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.