A Message from the President

Beth Phoenix, PhD, RN, CNS

December 2012


Happy Holidays, APNA members! We’ve worked hard and accomplished a lot in 2012 so please enjoy a safe, pleasant and relaxing end to the year.

Since this is my first column as APNA President I’d like to talk a little about my theme, which is “Leading change, advancing mental health.” This echoes the title of the Institute of Medicine’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health (2010). This influential report strongly argues for the importance of fully empowering nursing to contribute to the redesign of the US health care system. Its key recommendations include eliminating barriers that prevent nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education and training, and supporting the participation of nursing as a full partner in developing a health care system that better meets the needs of our population. If you are not familiar with the report, I highly recommend reading the executive summary and key recommendations—I think you’ll find them very encouraging.

Given the amount of energy and talent in our membership, I believe APNA can be an incubator for developing effective nurse leaders to advance mental health. During my presidency my goal is to identify emerging leaders and strengthen mechanisms to help APNA members develop their leadership capacity. Existing APNA structures such as councils, task forces and state chapters offer multiple paths to leadership. We plan to build on the success of the recent Chapter Summit as a model to engage and train leaders in other APNA activities such as our many councils. At our next Board of Directors meeting, the Board will be trained in a strengths-based leadership model whose principles may be used for other leadership development activities.

In addition to these formal APNA leadership development activities, I’d like to appeal to all of you to identify members whose leadership potential should be recognized and developed. Don’t hesitate to include yourself—nurses suffer from being too self-effacing! We often think of people who are outspoken or have impressive credentials as leaders, but I’d like to suggest some other important considerations in identifying leadership ability:

  • Ability to articulate important issues facing psychiatric nursing and define goals that can realistically be achieved;
  • A broad view of the concerns of psychiatric nursing as a whole. It’s crucial that leaders focus on what’s good for the profession, not just what’s important to their own practice or circumstances. It’s especially important that leaders focus on the future and the needs of psychiatric nurses just entering the field;
  • A track record of following through on commitments;
  • Respect for others and the ability to identify and foster others’ strengths and talents;
  • Commitment to dialogue. True leaders seek out and thoughtfully consider others’ opinions;
  • Last but not least, pride in being a psychiatric nurse and a passionate commitment to the value of our work.

Please think about members in your chapter or council who you find impressive or younger members who you think have great potential, and contact me on Member Bridge to tell me a little about them. I’d like to know about their interests and talents and why you think they’re great. APNA has grown to be such a large organization that I’ve only met a small fraction of the membership, but I hope to meet many more this year and will make it a priority to reach out to the folks you recommend. As President, I’m responsible for appointments to a number of councils and task forces and I could really use your help identifying APNA’s “hidden treasures.” The support and mentoring of established leaders in APNA was crucial in helping me believe that I actually had something to offer and I would like to see this same kind of encouragement extended to more of our members, especially those early in their careers. I also think it’s important that the diversity of our membership be reflected in the way leadership opportunities are distributed.

In addition to developing the leaders of the future, APNA will soon be putting out a call for nominations to the Board of Directors. Board positions require a history of active participation in APNA and demonstrated ability to advance the goals of the organization, but these qualifications can be accomplished in a variety of different ways. Please think about self-nominating if you have some experience leading APNA activities, or encourage your colleagues who have the leadership qualities mentioned above to run.  

Another important announcement that you’ll be hearing about after the New Year is the call for abstracts for our 2013 Annual Conference in San Antonio. Our conference is always inspiring as an opportunity to learn about the accomplishments of APNA members in research, practice, education and administration. Since we receive more great abstracts every year, we have planned some changes in the conference format so that more of our work can be showcased. Please consider submitting an abstract for a poster or presentation presenting your exciting research or models of successful innovation in practice, research, education, or administration.

In addition to its contribution to our professional development, the Annual Conference is also a time to enjoy reuniting with our APNA buddies. San Antonio should be lots of fun as a conference venue. The city’s website cites the River Walk as the #1 tourist attraction in Texas, and touts the sunny weather, abundance of cultural and historical activities (remember the Alamo!) and great shopping as other compelling reasons to visit.  Who knows—I may even be inspired to learn some fancy lariat tricks to top off my President’s address!

Best Holiday Wishes,


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.