APNA President's Report

APNA President Pat CunninghamOn behalf of the APNA Board of Directors I am pleased to present the 2014 American Psychiatric Nurses Association Activity Report. This report will cover the period from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014. This represents only a summary of the many activities and exciting work that is underway. It is a testament to what you, as a part of our organization and profession, are helping to make happen.

Throughout the year we have enjoyed sound membership growth and retention. Please see APNA Secretary Ben Evans’s report for more details on membership growth. We have also enjoyed a strong financial year. A copy of the most recent external audit report can be found in the Appendix and a copy of APNA Treasurer Susan Dawson’s report is included in this Activity Report.

A Strategic Plan guides all of APNA’s activities and our general direction. The current plan was developed in February of 2012 and will be updated this coming February. A full copy of the plan can be found at http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3287. Review of the strategic plan is a routine agenda item for every Board of Directors meeting. The Board assesses APNA’s progress against each of the plan’s four goals and evaluates the plan itself for pertinence against the current environment. The remainder of this report will provide a summary of the activities guided by these four goals (listed below) as we work to achieve the APNA purpose as stated in our bylaws: “The Association is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes.”

APNA Strategic Plan Goals

  1. APNA will be the indispensable resource for member networking and leadership and professional development.
  2. APNA will be the leader in creating strategic alliances with key stakeholders.
  3. APNA will be recognized as the expert voice for psychiatric-mental health nursing.
  4. APNA will be the leader in integrating research, practice, and education to address pressing psychiatric-mental health nursing care issues.

Our year began with the APNA 27th Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, which offered a total of 117.75 continuing education contact hours. Over 1300 individuals attended the conference and, according to their evaluations, more than 95% of them were satisfied or more than satisfied with their experience. Similarly, our June psychopharmacology conference – the APNA Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute – saw a record number of attendees (455) and provided 21.5 continuing education contact hours specific to psychopharmacology. Special thanks go to the many members who shared their expertise through presentations at these conferences.

The hub of APNA networking activity continues to be our website. This online presence is comprised of the APNA eLearning Center, Member Bridge and the main site, www.apna.org. The site is updated on a continual basis to serve as a rich resource of psychiatric-mental health nursing information for members and the public alike. The eLearning Center houses over 195 online presentations and offers a total of 243.5 continuing education contact hours. The majority of the content is formed by the expertise within our membership – many of you have generously shared knowledge through these online sessions. Member Bridge is also a highly utilized feature which connects members from across the world. The discussions which take place each day keep us all up-to-date on the issues relevant to our practice. The main website provides information on the APNA activities conducted by our 11 councils and institutes. It is also home to plentiful resources on psychiatric-mental health issues such as recovery, PTSD, integrated care, and many others.  Please see the Secretary’s report for specific data relative to the activity on the APNA website.

Because the chapter system is a major source of networking for APNA members at the local level, the APNA Board of Directors, in conjunction with chapter leaders, is examining structural changes that will enable the chapters to more effectively help members network both within the chapters and the association as a whole. This process is expected to continue through the next several months with the goal of fully implementing the structural changes within one year.

Building on last year’s initiative in mentoring, we are introducing an in-person element to APNA’s online Mentor Match program throughout this year’s Annual Conference. Another hallmark element of APNA’s focus on mentorship is the Board of Directors Student Scholarship program. Last year, and again this year, 20 students (10 undergraduate and 10 graduate) were chosen to receive funding from APNA to join our organization and attend the APNA annual conference. The program allows students to meet and engage with experienced psychiatric nurses at the conference, which initiates the mentoring process that continues throughout the year.

The updated edition of the Scope and Standards of Practice for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, the foundational resource for  mental health nursing, was released this year.  The document was updated through a joint effort by the American Nursing Association (ANA), APNA, and the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN). Kris McLoughlin led the joint task force on behalf of APNA. In addition to the print version, which is available for sale at a substantial discount on the website, APNA has also made arrangements for the standard to be available as an e-book free of charge to members. More information is available at http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3342.

In keeping with APNA’s commitment to research, the Board of Directors augmented the office of the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Editor-in-Chief, held by Karen Stein, by adding an Associate Editor, Colleen Corte. Dr. Corte assists Dr. Stein with initial manuscript screening and reviewer assignment, synthesis of reviews and journal administrative responsibilities. Dr. Stein’s contract was renewed through December 31, 2015. The APNA Board has charged a search committee, chaired by President-Elect Susie Adams, to solicit potential candidates to succeed Dr. Stein on January 1, 2016. The search is expected to run over the next year.

Likewise, to help foster greater participation in research for psychiatric-mental health nursing, a full day of pre-conference sessions dedicated to the topic of research will be part of the 28th Annual Conference program. The sessions have been coordinated by the Research Council under the leadership of Linda Beeber and the council co-chairs Daryl Sharp and Danny Willis.

The APNA Board of Directors, understanding that attrition has a profound impact on the psychiatric mental health nursing workforce, this year funded the APNA Transitions in Practice program (ATP). Studies have shown that as many as 25% of new nurses leave their positions within one year, citing inadequate preparation for the job for which they were hired. The ATP program is designed to augment the education nurses receive at the undergraduate level with specific coursework that prepares the new graduate for a position in psychiatric mental health nursing. The program will also apply to experienced nurses in the workforce who wish to make the transition from one specialty into psychiatric-mental health nursing. The coursework is divided into modules that cover therapeutic engagement, the therapeutic environment, recovery, risk assessment, psychiatric-mental health disorders, and psychopharmacology. The program is near completion and will be introduced in early 2015.

While the ATP program is geared towards RNs who have completed their undergraduate education, APNA is also developing educational resources for psychiatric-mental health nursing undergraduate curricula. The Education Council, co-chaired by Barbara Warren and Donna Rolin Kenny, and its Undergraduate Branch, headed up by David Sharp and Diane Esposito, are developing toolkits for use by undergraduate faculty. The toolkits, with content guided by the new Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, can be used by undergraduate faculty to better prepare nursing students in the essential elements of psychiatric-mental health nursing.

APNA is also now completing its fifth year as a subcontractor for the Recovery to Practice initiative through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA). Through our participation, APNA has developed a recovery curriculum that has undergone field testing and is being delivered by psychiatric-mental health nurses throughout the United States.  As of September, 2014, 123 APNA nurses have completed the APNA Recovery to Practice (RTP) Facilitator Training and 1,230 nurses and health care professionals have completed the APNA RTP program.

In an effort to help psychiatric-mental health nurses provide better assessment and management for patients at risk for suicide, the Board created a task force to develop psychiatric-mental health nursing specific competencies for suicide assessment. I am excited to announce that these competencies have been developed, completed internal and external expert validation, and are ready to be released in early 2015.  

The Institute for Safe Environments (ISE), led by Co-Chairs Diane Allen and Kathy Delaney, has updated the APNA Position Statement and Standards of Practice on the Use of Seclusion and Restraint. In addition, an updated version of the One-Hour Face-to-Face Assessment webinar, as well as a webinar created by ISE members to help nurses integrate the new seclusion and restraint standards of practice into their work: Seclusion and Restraint: Keys to Assessing and Mitigating Risks. Both of these continuing education opportunities are available to members at no cost in the APNA eLearning Center.

The new DSM-5 has been introduced and, to help prepare members for the changes, APNA is conducting an 8.5-hour multi-day course during the 28th Annual Conference. The course will examine the changes in the DSM-5 with an emphasis on how to perform a thorough diagnostic interview, identify symptom criteria, and write a case formulation paragraph. Topics addressed will include: an overview of the changes, neurodevelopmental disorders, personality disorders, substance use and addictive disorders, depressive and bipolar disorders, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, trauma-related and stress-related disorders, dissociative disorders, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

APNA has long been a champion of smoking cessation through the Tobacco Dependence Council, co-chaired by Daryl Sharp and Susan Blaakman.  In an effort to extend this work and further mobilize grassroots smoking cessation initiatives, APNA has partnered with the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center to support innovative strategies aimed at decreasing tobacco use in persons with mental illness. This program, the Virtual Nursing Academy of APNA Champions for Smoking Cessation, provided funding to 13 psychiatric-mental health nurses to help them implement proposed smoking cessation programs.  At the 28th Annual Conference, information on the programs will be presented at the Tobacco Dependence Council Interactive Panel. You can learn more about the Virtual Nursing Academy of APNA Champions for Smoking Cessation at http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=4767

The Institute for Mental Health Advocacy released an online policy forum this year in an effort to provide members with practical information on the integration of physical and mental health care and the opportunities it presents for psychiatric-mental health nurses. Led by co-chairs Peggy Halter and Christine Tebaldi, the Institute conducted an interview with APNA member Sharon Katz, who is Executive Director of Abington Collaborative Care. The resulting video presentation is available on the APNA website here: http://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=5471.

APNA also continues to partner with other organizations and ensure that psychiatric-mental health nurses are ‘at the table’ where important interdisciplinary connections are forming.. For example, we participated in the Institute of Medicine’s meeting on nursing certification research, attended the American Federation of Teachers/GAO meeting on workplace violence, and have a representative working with Optum Health. In addition, incoming President-Elect Mary Ann Nihart was nominated to review the Institute of Medicine’s report on PTSD on our behalf, incoming President Susie Adams spoke to psychiatric-mental health nursing’s role in health care reform on a nationwide call organized by the Department of Health and Human Services, and we are in the midst of discussions with the Emergency Nurses Association to begin a project that will provide a clearer picture of psychiatric-mental health care in the emergency department (based upon work by the Institute for Safe Environments). As President, I have had the opportunity to represent APNA and psychiatric-mental health nursing via numerous avenues – conferences, calls, press interviews, and more. For example, earlier this year I gave a presentation on integrating psychiatric-mental health nursing into primary care for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Along with Tari Dilks, I also monitor and interface on activities related to LACE and the evolution of the APRN Consensus Model. APNA continues to enjoy a relationship with the American Nurses Association through our Organizational Affiliate status. Past-President Marlene Nadler-Moodie and Executive Director Nick Croce regularly attend these meetings, which allow for networking with virtually every specialty nursing organization in the country. In a broader sense, we also continue to participate in national initiatives such as Recovery Month, Nurses Week, and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, National Depression Screening Day to help raise public awareness about these important topics.

All of the projects and initiatives in this report would not be possible without the incredible members who give their time to help APNA support and advance psychiatric-mental health nursing. I would like to thank the members of the APNA Board of Directors, the team that I have had the privilege of heading up this year.  APNA is an incredible network of connections with each other and our world of psychiatric care.  Through “thoughtful persistence”, we help narrow the omnipresent gaps in knowledge and practice to continuously evolve psychiatric nursing.  It has been a privilege to serve as your president, and I look forward to many more years of our journey together.   

Respectfully Submitted,

Patricia D. Cunningham, DNSc, APRN, BC
American Psychiatric Nurses Association

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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.