About the American Psychiatric Nurses Association: An Introduction

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) was founded in 1986. In the ensuing years, APNA has grown to be the largest professional membership organization committed to the practice of psychiatric-mental health (PMH) nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems, and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders.


APNA is guided by a strategic direction formulated by the Board of Directors and informed by the membership. Its core values are empowerment, inclusivity, integrity, collegiality, innovation, transparency, and stewardship. To facilitate professional advancement, APNA provides quality psychiatric-mental health nursing continuing education, a wealth of resources for established, emerging, and prospective PMH nurses, and a community of dynamic collaboration. APNA champions psychiatric-mental health nursing and advocates for mental health care through the development of positions on key issues, the widespread dissemination of current knowledge and developments in PMH nursing, and through collaboration with consumer groups to promote evidence based advances in recovery-focused assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of persons with mental illness and substance use disorders.


APNA is the only PMH nursing organization whose membership is inclusive of all PMH registered nurses (RN) including associate degree (ADN), baccalaureate (BSN), and advanced practice (APN) comprised of clinical nurse specialists (CNS), psychiatric nurse practitioners (NP), and nurse scientists and academicians (PhD and DNP). APNA membership totals more than 13,500 psychiatric mental health nurses from all over the world. All PMH nurses are eligible for membership at a reasonable cost. The membership is comprised of approximately 40% psychiatric registered nurses and 60% psychiatric advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Members practice in all settings, including inpatient, community, academic, research, private and public health institutions, and high level administrative positions at state and federal levels.

Learn More: Membership


APNA carries out its mission through the member-elected Board of Directors. The nine member Board is guided by the strategic direction and governs the association through a system of committees and task forces that address issues of importance to mental health in areas of nursing practice, education, research, administration, and policy. Each of these committees employs a structure to maximize member involvement and online communities to facilitate it. The committee and task force structure allows for expert input to the Board of Directors and provides a grass roots approach to augment the organization’s communication of information to the psychiatric-mental health nursing community.

Psychiatric-mental health nurses look to APNA as their resource for networking, education, and dissemination of research. The APNA network consists of approximately 40 state or local chapters that connect PMH nurses with others in their local regions. Chapter members communicate and share expertise online, through conference calls, and at live chapter meetings. The chapter system allows for the quick and wide distribution of standards, position papers, and materials to APNA's more than 13,500 members and other constituents.

Learn More: Board of Directors | Strategic Direction | Committees | Chapters


APNA is committed to disseminating state-of-the-art information to the widest possible audience of PMH nurses. In addition to its state chapter system, interactive website, print and electronic newsletters, and peer-reviewed journal, APNA maintains a members-only networking website, Member Bridge, that provides discussion forums, member blogs, and resource sharing amongst members. APNA also communicates with its members as well as 3,700 additional PMH nurses in its national database on a monthly basis via the electronic newsletter APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice. The newsletter reports on issues of importance to PMH nursing in the areas of legislation, regulation and policy. A bimonthly member-focused section, Members’ Corner, highlights events at state and national levels and showcases member achievements. The newsletter is supplemented by periodic emails which alert members of breaking news.

The Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (JAPNA) provides quality, up-to-date information to promote PMH nursing, improve mental health care for culturally diverse individuals, families, groups, and communities, as well as shape health care policy for the delivery of mental health services. JAPNA’s peer-reviewed articles provide the newest effective evidence based nursing practices, innovative therapeutic approaches, significant information trends, and useful, clinically-focused research in PMH nursing and its related subspecialties.  JAPNA has a circulation of over 10,800 subscribers.

Learn More: Member Bridge | APNA News | Members' Corner | JAPNA

Continuing Education

APNA has a well-established program for providing education to psychiatric-mental health nurses, bringing the latest developments in mental health research and practice to the PMH nursing community. As an accredited provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation, APNA offers a variety of live and online continuing nursing education programs:

  • The APNA Annual Conference is the largest gathering of PMH nurses in the US. The program each year features more than three days of continuing education specific to psychiatric-mental health nursing for RN-PMH and advanced practice nurses alike. The conference is an excellent vehicle to bring an issue into focus and initiate a program for change in practice or education.
  • At the APNA Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute, PMH nurses receive targeted education on drug therapies. Cutting edge research and education related to psychiatric medications are provided to nurses, many of whom have prescriptive authority.
  • Online education in the APNA eLearning Center augments APNA's live national and chapter level activities. Online programs include archived sessions from APNA national conferences, providing PMH nurses with access to nationally recognized speakers and content experts. Webinars, podcasts, and publications cover topics such as special skills for psychiatric-mental health nurses, psychopharmacology, and smoking cessation. APNA's eLearning bonus points program allows members to access much of this content at little to no cost.

Learn More: Continuing Nursing Education | APNA Annual Conference | Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute | APNA eLearning Center | eLearning Bonus Points

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AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION and APNA-Logoare registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as trademarks of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
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.