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2023 Elections: Member-at-Large

An APNA Member-at-Large serves a three-year term on the board. View Full Member-at-Large Position Description & Qualifications

  • Duties Include: ensuring effective and accountable governance, providing responsible oversight of the association, demonstrating competent and accountable leadership, and ensuring leadership continuity.
  • Qualifications Include: Previous APNA volunteer leadership and service, knowledge about global trends and APNA programs, participative leadership style, willingness to commit time and skills necessary to serve.

Vote for one candidate. Scroll down to view the candidate profiles for Paula Bolton and Carol Essenmacher.



Paula Bolton, MS, CNP, ANP-BC

Present Position
Nurse Practitioner Program Director Psychiatric Neurotherapeutics Program
Nurse Practitioner Director Infection Control/Internal Medicine
Interim Associate Chief Nursing Officer
McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA

MS, Boston College
BSN, Worcester State College
Diploma in Nursing, Lawrence General Hospital School of Nursing

APNA Contributions

  • Ketamine Task Force, 2019, 2023
  • Co-Chair, Neuromodulation Task Force Steering Committee, 2020 to present
  • Presenter, APNA Annual Meeting 2015-present

Other Experience

  • Co-Chair, Nurse Practice Committee, International Society of Electroconvulsive Therapy and Neuromodulation, 2019 to present

APNA members should vote for me to serve as Member-at-Large because I bring a distinct perspective to the care of patients and families struggling with mental health issues. I am a medical nurse practitioner who has cared for a psychiatric population for my entire career; I acutely recognize the barriers psychiatric patients face in trying to access mental health treatment as well as adequate care for co-morbid medical concerns. My clinical work originally focused on the unique medical needs of our patient population, and I shared my research related to metabolic issues confronting persons with serious mental illness (SMI) and ways to mitigate the risks. As I became involved in the field of neuromodulation, I sought to educate other PMH nurses around the various treatment modalities and the ways they could improve care in these areas. I have worked with inpatients, residential patients, and outpatients with a wide variety of psychiatric and medical concerns. My most recent clinical focus has been the care of the psychiatric population at risk for the effects of COVID infection and I have worked with PMH nurses and clinical team members to appropriately care for individuals infected with COVID in our psychiatric settings.

In my various projects, I have remained committed to highlighting the unique contributions nurses, both direct care and advanced practice nurses, make in treatment outcomes for those suffering from mental illness. As a medical NP working with in a behavioral health setting, I have so appreciated APNA’s leadership in promoting effective treatment and care of some of our most vulnerable populations and I am committed to supporting the work of psychiatric-mental health nurses, both with ongoing education and policy development aimed at supporting their roles in the work with patients, families, and communities.

I can help fulfill APNA’s purpose as a scientific and education organization by sharing my experience as a medical NP who has cared for persons with SMI. In addition, my recent experience in all three neuromodulations (ECT/TMS/ketamine) will add to the breadth of experience on the Board of the APNA and provide a unique perspective. My involvement in research projects, setting up programs, including ECT/TMS/Ketamine Services and providing education (alongside experienced nurses) will add to the Board’s understanding of the roles for nurses in these areas. As I have recently served in a nursing leadership position, I have witnessed the effects of our current mental health surge and staffing challenges on nurses and the need to support and encourage the important work of PMH nurses across our country. It would be an honor to work with the APNA and its members as they seek to lead policy development, research, and education to support our workforce.


Carol Essenmacher, DNP, PMHCNS-BC

Present Position
Assistant Professor of Nursing at Saginaw Valley State University


2014 Doctor of Nursing Practice
2007 Master’s Degree in PMH Nursing
2004 Master’s Certificate in Special Programs in Alcohol and Drug Addiction
2001 Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
1983 Associate Degree in Nursing

APNA Contributions

  • APNA Distinguished Service Award Recipient – 2021
  • Addictions Council
    • Immediate Past Co-Chair
    • Current Chair of the Tobacco Dependence Branch (2014-present)
  • Education Council – Pre-Licensure Branch
  • Research & Scholarship Council – Advisory Panel
  • Chair, Nursing Competencies for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence (2018-2021)
  • APNA Annual Conference Presenter
  • Michigan Chapter President – 2014 to 2019
  • Michigan Chapter Conference Presenter
  • Awards Reviewer – 2015 & 2017-2019
  • Continuing Education Reviewer
  • JAPNA Manuscript Reviewer
  • Scholarly Review Committee
  • Community Outreach Task Force – 2018
  • Motivational Interviewing Task Force – 2017
    • Created and wrote and recorded a 3-hour continuing education session (available on the Resources pages) that has been downloaded and completed over 24,000 times.
    • Currently putting finishing touches on full overhaul of with updates being guided by member feedback.
  • APNA’s Virtual Nursing Academy of APNA Champions for Smoking Cessation – 2013
  • APNA Representative on the National Partnership on Behavioral Health & Tobacco Use/SCLC. Co-chair of Interventions Committee – 2018 to Present

Other Experience

  • Southwest Michigan Psychiatric Nurses Council (Co-Chair 1/2009-1/2010)
  • National Partnership for Behavioral Health & Tobacco Use (Co-chair 2019-present)
  • Organizer and Leader of VA Committee to develop VHA Directive on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (6/2014-6/2015)
  • Appointed to Veterans Health Affairs Office of Nursing Service Mental Health Field Advisory
  • Committee for the National Nursing Clinical Practice Program (lead publishing of manual and Voice-over training using the manual) – 2010-2018
  • Lead Chair of Battle Creek VAMC Nurse Professional Standards Board 2009-2014, resumed 9/2015 to 3/2017 – 2009-2015
  • 2015 Update: VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Substance Use Disorders (VA appointed workgroup member)

APNA members should vote for me to serve as Member-at-Large because it is my mindset and habit to approach challenges as being solvable and containing opportunities for improvements. The challenge of the adoption of increased clinical hours and the need for preceptorship is one such example. There may not be a “one-size-fits-all” resolution to finding enough preceptors but there are opportunities here to create practice competencies. A multitude of other challenges that PMH nurse face are exciting opportunities for improvement.

I can help fulfill APNA’s purpose as a scientific and education organization by getting the latest and best evidence-based knowledge translated into the educating and training for all members of APNA. While there are some commonalities of learning types, there are no “one-size-fits-all” fairy-tale cures. And there are no magical methods of educating each other as professionals. Lifelong learning is an alchemy made up of the stardust of hard work, gracious enlightenment, misery, humor, learning from failures, sacrifice, and so much more. But when the stars align opportunities are ripe for innovation and nurses are ready, willing, and able to try calculated risk to improve mental health care.