Frannie PingitoreFrancine Pingitore, PhD, PMHCNS-BC
2019 Award for Excellence in Practice - APRN

Frannie Pingitore, PhD, PMHCNS-BC feels honored to be a child and adolescent clinical nurse specialist. “What do I find rewarding about my role? Everything!” she says. “For me, connecting with other people is what gives life meaning.” For fostering a care environment in which her patients can find healing and her interprofessional colleagues can grow, Frannie is this year’s recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Practice – APRN.

At a Glance
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Child and adolescent group psychotherapy

Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
“Be true to what you feel passion about. Use that passion to make positive impacts in the lives of the patients you treat.”

How She Connects:
“Be present and listen for the real stories.”

In her work as a child and adolescent clinical nurse specialist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Frannie is a passionate facilitator of group psychotherapy. “My best hours of the week are when I sit in a circle with these kids,” she says. “At the end of the day, they are doing the work. I just have the privilege to create the space for the teens to experience interpersonal connections with each other. They work through similar issues where change happens and ultimately healing takes place.” For more than ten years, Frannie has conducted a weekly outpatient group for adolescents with eating disorders and encouraged those within the group to find strength in their connections. “Frannie is an internationally recognized expert in group therapy,” says Nicole Flanagan, Frannie’s nominator. “Her work has enlightened clinicians, families, and clients to promote optimal clinical care and long-standing outcomes.” For Frannie, group psychotherapy reflects what it means to be human: to form relationships with others. “On a basic human level, there’s a desire to connect,” she says. “Once I was asked how I thought people healed. I said they heal by connecting with each other.”

Frannie has also conducted research into the experiences of adolescents with eating disorders participating in interpersonal group therapy. Her work emphasizes the importance of each patient and their families being heard during the healing process. “Frannie approaches each situation as an opportunity to find the voices that can be trapped in layers of functional challenge,” explains Lauren Thorngate, Frannie’s reference and colleague at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. “Her ability to frame things in a clear, positive, and supportive way in all arenas is a tremendous strength.”

Informed by her clinical experience with patients, Frannie also educates nursing staff throughout the hospital to coordinate the integrated care of the outpatient and inpatient Behavioral Health programs. Upon the hospital’s transition to this model of care, Frannie trained nurses, mental health professionals, and clinicians in best practices for child and adolescent mental health. She was crucial in the development of the Family Advisory Council and Teen Advisory Councils within her hospital, which provide a philosophy for care, incorporate parental advocacy, and create guidelines for family-centered care principles. “Frannie was and continues to be the catalyst for learning,” says Flanagan. “With a supportive look or imperceptible nod, she helps nurses find their core confidence and move a stuck conversation forward, breathe and pause at just the right moment, reduce emotion, and garner positive human responses to promote compromise and shared outcomes.”

Beyond her formal role as an educator, Frannie is also a mentor for new nurses and any healthcare professional seeking a better understanding of mental health.  “Frannie mentors those who work with her to become attuned to their own feelings, beliefs, and body language. She has successfully assisted physician and nurse leaders through difficult mediation and critical trust building experiences,” says Thorngate. “Her work is influential in supporting the growth of leaders.” As a mentor, Frannie models nurse leadership, encouraging her mentees to challenge themselves while following their passion. “Be true to what you feel passionate about,” she says. “Use that passion to make a positive impact in the lives of the patients you treat.”

Not only will Frannie’s achievements be celebrated this fall at the APNA 33rd Annual Conference, she will also be delivering a presentation about group therapy for novice leaders with a colleague. “When I received the call [about this award], I thought there was a problem with my abstract!” she jokes. “I feel so humbled to be recognized. This has truly been the highlight of my career.”

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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.