A Message from the President

Patricia D. Cunningham, DNSc, APRN, BC

October 2013


Dear Colleagues,

I could not begin my first message as APNA President without first acknowledging the tremendous leadership of outgoing President Beth Phoenix over the past year – she truly embodied her presidential theme’s emphasis on psychiatric mental health nursing leadership and mentorship. I look forward to benefitting from her wisdom and experiences as she mentors me in my new position…maybe she’ll even teach me how to use that lasso she had at the Annual Conference!

Listening to the World Series reminds me of growing up in South Philadelphia playing softball with girls from my neighborhood. I learned a lot about working with what you got. We were a scrappy group of not-always-little and not-always-ladylike young girls with different skills and abilities and all that we cared about was that we had the tools we needed to play: an open space, a bat, a ball, and some gloves. It didn’t matter whether we were on a meticulously manicured green field or a dirt-packed lot, what mattered was that we played the game. We won many games and a city championship, and lost a few, too. We always dusted off from our losses and went out there to play again, and again, and again.

Today as I look at psychiatric-mental health nursing, I see a parallel. We have the knowledge, skills and abilities to provide mental health care to those who need it. We can and currently do provide that care in a diverse variety of settings. When we have the tools that enable us to provide the best possible care, we can meet the needs of many different populations. We are not limited to a single setting; we are blazing new frontiers in communities across the country!

As psychiatric nursing evolves, APNA offers us the foundation and scaffolding we need to continue building our strong and enduring mental health care focus in our profession of nursing. What do I mean by that? Within our organization I highly value the culture of mutual trust that I experience through my work on councils, discussions on Member Bridge, and at conferences. I see this trust as providing the firm foundation upon which we are building. We are steadfastly united in our mission to advance psychiatric-mental health nursing and the care of persons with mental health issues.

Through APNA we also have a network of resources and colleagues. This is our scaffolding: it is the structure through which we obtain the tools we need and upon which we stand to build our future. I encourage you to use this structure – search and read the wealth of information available on the APNA website, network through councils and chapters to give and receive what is needed for your growth, take advantage of APNA’s superb continuing education, and call upon our collective voice to shine a light on the tremendous value and untapped potential we have as a profession!

I’d like to highlight a couple of new additions for our members: The first is the new feature of APNA membership – eMembership in the American Nurses Association. This feature not only expands the  network of professional development resources and education, it also positions us at an organizational level to collaborate with colleagues across nursing disciplines to advocate for the profession and for better access to care for those with mental health and substance use concerns. The second is still in the construction phase – the APNA Transitions in Practice (ATP) program. This program will provide a curriculum of foundational content in psychiatric-mental health nursing gleaned from subject matter experts within APNA. It will facilitate RNs’ transitions in clinical practice to psychiatric care, while also providing continuing education content that contributes to eligibility requirements for ANCC certification in psychiatric-mental health nursing (RN-BC). Finally, I’m pleased to inform you that staffing changes are underway at the APNA national office in order to maximize the support available to our Chapters and Councils. We recognize that additional administrative support will serve to ensure that when you participate, you are able to focus on providing your expertise and knowledge to further our mission and goals.

We are champions of psychiatric-mental health nursing and those we serve. I look forward to collaborating with all of you this year to build upon the work we have already accomplished - with an ever growing membership and visibility, our future is bright!

Patricia D. Cunningham, DNSc, APRN, BC

P.S. If you’re interested in learning a little bit more about me, you can check out my profile on Member Bridge here.

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.