Mindy CohenMindy Cohen, RN, APN, CGP, DRCC, CARN
2016 Award for Excellence in Practice - APRN

Prior to becoming a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Mindy Cohen served critical care patients as a Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner for seven years. Even then, Cohen was drawn to providing emotional support to others afflicted with illness. The shift in her nursing career focus came as the result of her previous experience as a Medical Nurse Practitioner and her own period of chronic pain. “I often felt more like a technician managing machines when the real healing I observed emanated from the client’s psyche. My clients’ greatest physical improvement occurred after someone addressed their emotional needs as well. The power of the mind to heal is truly impressive,” Cohen states. “I wanted to build client resilience and a sense of empowerment to assist their healing in a profound way. Removing one’s sense of despair and powerlessness while creating a positive spirit and hope goes a long way in supporting one’s immune function, healing and health behaviors."

At a Glance
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Psychotherapy, Group Dynamics, Mentorship of Colleagues/Students

Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
“Nurses should remain integrative with a mind-body focus in our diagnostics and treatment. Healing occurs on all levels.”

Favorite Color:
Red (“It’s a powerful color, symbolizing the central role nurses play in healthcare.”)

 “My own health experience illuminated for me that there is little attention paid to supportive care in our health care system as it exists today,” Cohen says. “The isolation of illness along with the accompanying anxiety and depression hinder the healing process. I sought to provide this mental health care for those suffering with illness.” For her resolve to provide this essential mental health care to those living with serious medical conditions, Mindy Cohen is the 2016 recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Practice – APRN.

Cohen has been a Psychiatric Advanced Practice Nurse since 1992 and has worked in a variety of roles, including: nursing management, nursing education, crisis management, clinical directorships, addictions, nursing research, and staff level positions. Additionally, Cohen has served for many years as a FEMA Disaster Relief Crisis Counselor as she professionally volunteers for debriefing and trauma work. She has been active in assisting survivors of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. “In each of my roles, my main priority and focus is creating high-quality clinical care. Improving the quality and impact of the clinical care we deliver is what motivates me,” she says.

Cohen encourages her colleagues and clients to advocate for themselves in making the best health care decisions. Cohen educates her clients not only by providing answers, but also by arming them with the critical questions necessary to elicit the best guidance and care from their healthcare providers. Similarly, Cohen’s approach to mentorship of colleagues is one of leading by example. “Nurses possess a strong personal and clinical intuition in addition to rigorous education. We must trust these gifts in working with our clients, and question, advocate, and challenge when necessary for our clients’ best possible outcomes. Nurses have a powerful voice and can impact healthcare and wellness at the highest levels. We just need to use our voices to achieve this goal.”

As a Group Facilitator at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in New Jersey, Cohen utilizes her personal experience to design and provide supportive therapy and education for individuals with serious illnesses. She led efforts to establish four community-based groups that she facilitates, focusing on individuals with cancer, fibromyalgia, and other auto-immune disorders, as well as caregivers. Each group centers on addressing mental health issues common to those with serious illness. She investigates and shares the latest innovative research findings and best practices for medical and mental health to keep her group members up to date on their conditions and “in charge.” According to Mindy, “Knowledge is power and with it clients are emboldened to play a leading role in their own healing.”

"Mindy is skillful with her assessments to uncover what group members seek and delivers with precision – whether in the form of psychotherapy group discussion, therapeutic coping strategies, speakers, new technologies, or latest findings,” says Donna Mancuso, who nominated Cohen.

As an Adjunct Faculty member through Rutgers University Graduate School of Nursing, Cohen has mentored many graduate psychiatric nursing students. “Mindy possesses a warm and compassionate countenance,” says Maureen Goodman, one of Cohen’s nominators and a former mentee. “She cares deeply about the people that she works with as well as her clients. Being mentored by Mindy [was] a distinct privilege.” Cohen builds clinical expertise in mental health and nursing students as they regularly observe her group therapy sessions. Cohen shares her knowledge of psychotherapy and group dynamics through modeling and co-facilitation experiences.

Underlying Cohen’s work is a firm commitment to ensuring a high quality experience for her clients. “As an Advanced Practice Nurse, to be honored for Excellence in Practice is the greatest honor I can receive for my professional work. I am truly grateful to the APNA for this special recognition,” says Cohen. We look forward to celebrating with Cohen at the APNA 30th Annual Conference this October in Hartford, Connecticut.

 

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The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.