Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses to Impact Future Health Care Landscape

APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice  |  March 2019 Members' Corner Edition

How to position the psychiatric-mental health workforce for the future – this was the question representatives from APNA councils, chapters and task forces were asked to consider as they came together with APNA leadership at the 2019 APNA Health Policy Summit and Strategic Discussion on Workforce, February 20-21, 2019, in Falls Church, VA.

To open the Health Policy Summit’s day of presentations, APNA President, Gail Stern, RN, MSN, PMHCNS-BC offered a welcome followed by a recap of the last year’s APNA Health Policy Summit by APNA Immediate Past-President Linda Beeber, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN.Nurse_treating_patient

In addition to the line-up of expert speakers, a panel offered reaction to the concepts presented, applying the information to practice settings. The panel included Diane Esposito, PhD, ARNP, PMHCNS-BC, APNA Education Council; Jeannine Loucks, MSN, RN-BC PMH, APNA Council for Safe Environments; Suzie Marriott, MS, BSN, RN-BC, APNA Administrative Council; and Brandy Mechling, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, APNA Research Council. Nanette Larson, BA, CRSS, with The Illinois Department of Human Services/Division of Mental Health, provided the consumer and peer specialist perspective.

Dawn Vanderhoef, PhD, DNP, RN, PMHNP/CNS-BC, APNA Workforce Task Force Chair, led off the presentations with “Psychiatric Workforce Survey Development: Where We Were and Where We are Headed.” She covered how the board formed this task force as an outcome from last year's Health Policy Summit. Noting challenges and opportunities, she then described the crafting of a survey by the task force intended to elicit comprehensive and accurate data from psychiatric-mental health RNs and APRNS. This workforce data will help build the PMH nursing image and influence policy.

Next, Angela Beck, PhD, MPH, Director, Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center, University of Michigan, spoke about "The Psychiatric Mental Health Workforce in the United States.” Echoing similar themes but with an interprofessional perspective, she emphasized the need to increase access to care by offering innovative models for the future of care: integrated care, telehealth and employment of a blended workforce. The good news: advanced practice psychiatric nurses are positioned to fill gaps in care if they can be fully utilized.

Technology was on tap with “The Digital Revolution in Behavioral Health,” presented by Michael Hasselberg, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Nursing, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Fellow, Director of Telepsychiatry, University of Rochester. He shared the university’s Telebehavioral Health Model which leverages telepsychiatry, telementoring and onsite psychiatric engagement resulting in reduced costs, improved population health and more desirable patient experiences. Known as “Project ECHO” or Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, this is the first telemedicine program within the University of Rochester, Department of Psychiatry, and a model that relies on PMH nurses as psychiatric engagement specialists in skilled nursing facilities, psychiatric assessment officers in rural hospitals and care managers for primary care.

Merrie Kaas, PhD., APRN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, Professor, Coordinator PMHNP DNP Program University of Minnesota School of Nursing, then delved into the education landscape with “Will We Be Ready? Preparing Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses for Future Practice,” advocating innovative partnerships, new models of clinical curriculum, and standardized clinical preparation and assessment with input from faculty preceptors to even out competencies.

Rounding out the day, APNA Secretary Joyce Shea, DNSc, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, reported on the work of the APNA ISPN Joint Task Force to update the Scope & Standards for PMH Nursing. The task force is on track to unveil a 3rd Edition of this publication next year as they define PMH nursing within evolving contexts.

Day two allowed for a facilitated strategic discussion examining broad issues for psychiatric-mental health nurses: starting with the new healthcare landscape, then diving into current and emerging competencies and ultimately continuing education suggestions and priorities. The resulting feedback will help inform the APNA Board of Directors as it reviews the APNA Strategic Direction and goals for the association for the future.


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