LCDR Jacqueline Lopez, BS
2018 Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN

Jacqueline "Jackie" LopezJacqueline “Jackie” Lopez serves those who serve. Her work raises the standard of care within the military to one that addresses both mental and physical health. “Jackie possesses a rare blend of vision, drive for quality, and evidence-based clinical practice,” says Jean Fisak, Jackie’s nominator. For expanding care options within the military despite limited resources, Jackie is the first active duty member of the Navy to receive the APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN.

At a Glance
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion:
Behavioral restraint reduction; Inpatient mental health care

Words of Wisdom to Future Nurses:
“Never be afraid to challenge the status quo [and] stand up for what is right and advocate for your patients."

How She Makes Every Day Extraordinary:
“If in a day I can help at least one of my patients find their ‘why’ and meaning in life, then I have had an extraordinary day.”

As the Senior Nursing Officer for the United States Branch Health Clinic in Sasebo, Japan and Department Head for Medical Homeport and Primary Care, Jackie’s practice focuses on family medicine, mental health, and support clinics for service members and their families. “What I find rewarding about my work is that I am always challenged to work as hard as I can to advocate for our most vulnerable patient populations. I work to ensure that our active duty beneficiaries and their families always get the best care,” she says. Upon being stationed at United States Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan as the Associate Director for Mental Health, Jackie took steps to improve the care provided within the system. She observed the need for increased training to support the mental health of children and adolescents in military families. She therefore created a supplemental nursing competency for the admission of child and adolescent mental health patients to the medical-surgical ward. “As one of my mentors always said, crisis equals opportunity,” Jackie says. “When you feel as if there is something that can be improved upon, stand up to that challenge and be part of that change.”

On the scope of Jackie’s impact, Sean Convoy, one of Jackie’s references, says, “Jackie’s organizational reach is beyond her local facility. The Navy-wide impact she contributed to is equivalent to a national level impact.” Jackie spearheaded efforts to create standard competencies for restraint usage across Navy Medicine inpatient mental health units. In order to implement consistent standards for restraint usage, she led 45 nurse generalists across three medical facilities to redesign their inpatient mental health units.  She also collaborated with the Army, Air Force, and Veteran’s Administration to create a standardized training module for responding to disruptive behaviors. “Since the moment I first entered psychiatric-mental health nursing, I have had great passion for decreased utilization of behavioral restraints and maintaining a therapeutic milieu and environment of care on an inpatient mental health unit,” Jackie says.

Jackie’s dedication and passion also extends to her fellow psychiatric-mental health nurses: As an advocate for her peers, she led an effort to establish retention initiatives for psychiatric-mental health nurse generalists, including incentive pay. “Jackie is using her psychiatric-mental health expertise in a remote clinic in Japan by providing consultation to her peers on mental health related issues,” says Convoy. “She provides mentorship to the staff for both training and ways to reduce stress.” Jackie’s advice to future nurses reflects why she leads: “Never be afraid to challenge the status quo [and] stand up for what is right and advocate for your patients. Everyone can make a difference in their profession, their clinical setting, and the lives of their patients and families.”

To make the most of each day as a psychiatric-mental health nurse and service member, Jackie focuses on those to whom she provides care. “I have witnessed firsthand true resilience and the ability to overcome the toughest of circumstances from our active duty population, [and] these heroes inspire me every day to provide the best care they have earned and deserve,” she says. “If in a day I can help at least one of my patients find their ‘why’ and meaning in life, then I have had an extraordinary day.” We look forward to celebrating her achievements at the APNA 32nd Annual Conference.

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