President's Report

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to provide you with the following summary of our association’s activities over the past year. My President’s Report is organized into sections: each section includes an update on our progress toward a particular goal in our strategic plan. It’s a long and robust report – a testament to all that YOU, the lifeblood of our organization, have accomplished over the past year and well worth the read!

APNA Strategic Goal A: APNA will be the indispensable resource for member networking, leadership and professional development.

In keeping with my presidential theme of mentorship and leadership development, APNA engaged in a number of significant activities to ensure that we are an “indispensable resource” in this area. First, APNA established its own online mentoring program, APNA Mentor Match, which allows prospective mentors and mentees to search for and find each other. We already have approximately 300 members participating and a number of current mentoring relationships. To supplement the program, members of the Administrative Council created a continuing education session which is available in eLearning Center for free to APNA members: Introduction to Mentoring.

Another exciting new program introduced this year was the APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarship Program. The Board of Directors voted to fund this program in June and we welcomed the inaugural class of “BOD Scholars” last month. The scholarship includes complimentary registration, travel and lodging to the APNA 27th Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas; one year complimentary membership in APNA, and significant opportunities for mentorship and participation in psychiatric mental health nursing initiatives. The Awards and Recognition Committee, a committee composed of more than fifty members, reviewed the applications we received and awarded the scholarship to 10 undergraduate and 10 graduate nursing students who have demonstrated a commitment to psychiatric-mental health nursing. I look forward to meeting these exceptional students at the conference and watching them grow as leaders as they participate in APNA mentorships and activities.

In addition to the above, APNA efforts in mentoring and leadership development include Board mentorships of persons who expressed interest in running for a position on the APNA Board of Directors, the mentoring structure within our institutes and councils at our Council Summit earlier this year (see the Suicide Position Paper for an example of one council mentorship), several council projects underway (stay tuned!), and leadership training for members of our Board of Directors.

The varied opportunities for member involvement continue to contribute to our status as the indispensable resource for member networking and leadership development. We have more than 875 members participating in our institutes, committees, councils, and task forces!  

A few recent council highlights:

  • The Institute for Safe Environments has created two workgroups to examine two components of a safe environment—emergency management and patient engagement;
  • A task force is in the midst of developing inpatient intervention and suicide prevention evidence-based competencies for PMHRNs. The position paper on the need for such competencies by members of the Education Council that was published in the July/August issue of JAPNA is also an excellent example of member involvement and leadership development.  
  • The Board recently approved the formation of an Addictions Council to provide leadership on issues relating to substance-related and behavioral addictions.
  • We will soon debut the “APNA Policy Forum,” an initiative led by the Institute for Mental Health Advocacy, which will feature online presentations by experts on policies important to psychiatric mental health nursing.
  • Our new Council Toolkit on the APNA website, also an outcome of the Council Summit, offers members looking to get involved tools and resources to help them do so.

In addition, members continue to participate, network, and lead through the development of APNA online CE programs, review of current sessions in the eLearning Center to ensure that they are evidence-based and current, volunteer at the APNA Annual Conference, and participate in the vibrant communities on Member Bridge.

As far as professional development, our continuing education offerings continue to multiply. We have an APNA Transitions in Practice Program, an educational curriculum for RNs, in the works as well as the suicide prevention competencies mentioned above. Our eLearning Center houses more than 200 education sessions, 60 of which have been newly posted since January 2013 – these additions include podcasts from the 11th Annual CPI and recovery sessions for graduate and undergraduate nurse educators. Our new eLearning Center Reports module will increase the APNA Provider Unit’s ability to assess and evaluate the success of our educational programs and use that information to inform development of future material.  The resources available on the APNA website continue to expand, the most recent being a wealth of substance use resources from NIDA and a section dedicated to the Affordable Care Act. We also recently added new publications to our publications discounts programs for APNA members. Of course there’s always the Annual Conference, registration for which this year includes access to more than 90 educational sessions!

Networking opportunities also abound. With a mobile version of Member Bridge now available we can continue our knowledge-sharing with each other on the go. Continuous chapter communications, such as the recent emails about the VA Mental Health Summits in your regions, encourage networking at a community level, as do chapter-hosted events. Registration numbers for the Annual Conference are at an all-time high, which means even more networking throughout the conference and especially at our Annual Conference Friday Night Fiesta, whose format has been redesigned in order to increase attendee engagement. With a new council toolkit and monthly meetings with council chairs, we are also working to empower our councils, committees, and institutes to engage our members in all of their exciting activities. Members continue to help review our eLearning content, abstract submissions, scholarship applications, awards nominations, and more through our councils.

Goal B: APNA will be the leader in creating strategic alliances with key stakeholders.

APNA has been hard at work ensuring that we are at the tables where decision-making happens wherever possible! Notable strategic alliances that we have cultivated over the past year include:

  • Partnering with Dr. Mary Wakefield and the Health Resources and Services Administration to create an Affordable Care Act Resources section on our website – a collaboration which earned us a mention in a communication from Dr. Wakefield to nursing organizations across the country;
  • Continued conversations with HRSA and SAMHSA regarding workforce development—Board Member-at-Large Amy Rushton and Executive Director Nick Croce most recently attended a listening session and shared our Transitions in Practice program development;
  • Work with the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses to update the Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, now with ANA for approval;
  • Ongoing conversations with CMS regarding the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes;
  • Discussions with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing about the portability of the CNS credential across state lines;
  • Continued work on the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative.

This year President-Elect Pat Cunningham and Executive Director Nick Croce visited NONPF to talk about government relations relative to NP practice and also NCSBN to discuss grandfathering.  Our development of suicide prevention competencies for RNs is also resulting in the creation of strategic alliances with suicide prevention organizations, and the Institute for Mental Health Advocacy’s Policy Forum promises to pull from across disciplines for collaboration. Representatives from other nursing organizations were invited to attend the APNA Annual Conference and we have received several acceptances thus far. Finally, our ANA Premier Membership represents an important alliance with the ANA.

As APNA President, one of my roles was to “be the face of APNA” at several of our colleagues’ gatherings. I completed a whirlwind tour across the states at the International Society of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurses Annual Conference, the American Academy of Colleges of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice Summit, and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty conference. At each event I came into contact with experts from across the nursing spectrum and was able to raise the visibility of our organization.

Other events at which APNA has been represented include:

  • Executive Director Nick Croce’s attendance at the White House National Conference on Mental Health
  • Associate Executive Director Pat Black’s Attendance at the Veteran’s Administration Mental Health Summit
  • Attendance at White House ACA Briefing
  • Immediate Past President Marlene Nadler-Moodie and Executive Director Nick Croce’s attendance at ANA Organizational Affiliates Annual Meeting
  • Michael Rice serving as the APNA Representative for Optum Health
  • Attendance at ANA/ONC At the Crossroads of Patient Care: Health IT for Nurses and Advanced Practice Nurses Planning Meeting and participation in planning committee for Health IT for Nurses conference put on by ONC
  • Attendance at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation briefing on Innovative Models of Care
  • Mary Moller’s participation on an international policy initiative to raise awareness of the personal and socioeconomic burden of schizophrenia
  • Attendance at the Oral Health Summit
  • Tari Dilks and President-Elect Pat Cunningham’s ongoing participation in the LACE Task Force
  • Presentation by Mary Beth Farquhar (URAC) at the June Board of Directors meeting on quality measures and upcoming collaboration on URAC’s Behavioral Health Summit


Goal C: APNA will be recognized as the expert voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing.

Much of what I’ve already covered for the previous goals applies in this section as well: our participation in so many important initiatives; the growing number of invitations we are receiving to collaborate with diverse organizations; our ever expanding continuing education offerings and the growing demand for them; and our robust website. In addition, government entities are increasingly acknowledging the need for APNA’s collaboration – SAMHSA and HRSA in particular have made concerted efforts to partner with us and entities such as NIDA and ONDCP continue to contact us to request our help in the dissemination of materials and communications. Our continued work on the Recovery to Practice program and curriculum, which will be presented at the Annual Conference, positions us as one of the experts in integrating recovery-oriented practices into nursing.

We are working to empower our councils to be the expert voice of psychiatric mental health nursing in their areas of focus – a new council toolkit is now online to aid councils in fulfilling their charges. It provides practical suggestions and tools for engaging members. Likewise, APNA is in the process of providing the chapters with the support they need to be the voice of psychiatric mental health nursing at the local level. One example of this is the recent email our chapters sent out to their members, letting them know when the VA Mental Health Summits would be held in their area and also providing them with talking points to use when attending. On an individual level, our mentoring programs continue to enable us all to be expert voices for our profession. A leadership resources section on the website is also in development to supplement this.

Our position papers, email communications, press releases, conferences, website, and more as outlined earlier in my report and in more detail in the appendices of the Annual Activity Report, also continue to demonstrate that APNA is the expert voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing – both to psychiatric mental health nurses and non-psychiatric mental health nurses. 


Goal D: APNA will be the leader in integrating research, practice, and education to address relevant psychiatric-mental health nursing care issues.

Again, APNA takes a multi-pronged approach to achieving this goal – through our journal, our education offerings, and our communications.

As a peer-reviewed journal indexed in MedLine, our Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association continues to be a strong leader in disseminating the latest research in psychiatric mental health nursing. Topics addressed in recent issues include recovery and first-person language in varying mental health environments, ACT teams and primary care services, psychiatric mental health nurses and terminology in the health care system, and suicide prevention.

In conjunction with this publication are APNA’s educational offerings. APNA’s two yearly conferences bring together psychiatric nurses in a range of roles and interdisciplinary colleagues to present on current psychiatric mental health nursing issues. The Annual Conference abstracts submission process ensures that a wide range of mental health issues are addressed. With over 90 members of the Scholarly Review Committee reviewing the numerous abstracts we receive, the resulting program reflects the most current issues across all areas of psychiatric mental health nursing practice.  Likewise, our eLearning Center is constantly updated with presentations drawn from across the spectrum of research, practice, and education in order to offer continuing education that is relevant and directly applicable to our daily practice. See the eLearning Report for more information. Finally, there are the current education curricula in development – the APNA Recovery to Practice Facilitator Training, which will soon be available, the APNA Transitions in Practice Curriculum I mentioned earlier, and the suicide competencies in development by a task force of APNA members.

APNA makes a concerted effort to ensure that relevant information integrating research, practice, and education is disseminated across a variety of channels. A huge component of this is the All-Purpose Discussion Forum. On a daily basis, members receive emails that share practices, insights, and resources posted by colleagues across the country. Its archives are also an invaluable resource – try searching by a keyword, such as safety, and you will be astounded by the wealth of information returned. The APNA website is constantly updated in order to address the most current psychiatric mental health issues. Examples of this include the creation of several new resource sections this year: one for the Affordable Care Act, one for dealing with traumatic events, and one for the National Dialogue on Mental Health. Our monthly newsletter also culls the latest information and news relevant to our profession from across the world.


As President, being at the center of this whirlwind of activities has been incredibly exciting. I must acknowledge the incredible work and support of the members of the APNA Board of Directors – their vision, knowledge, and dedication continues to impress and humble me. The most gratifying part of holding this office has been the privilege of getting to see the passion, breadth of knowledge, and leadership potential in you, my colleagues and fellow APNA members. I hold each of you in high regard and have been honored to be able to contribute in some small measure to this network of talented professionals. Thank you for all that you do.


Respectfully Submitted,

Beth Phoenix, PhD, RN, CNS
American Psychiatric Nurses Association

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