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2020 Award for Excellence in Education

Rosalind De Lisser, APRN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC

“What I love about my work is the interaction with students,” says Rosalind De Lisser, APRN, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC. “I am honored to be a part of their process: from application and interview… to coaching and career mentorship, and all that comes in between supporting the development of advanced practice psychiatric-mental health nurses. Watching that evolution is the most rewarding part of my work.” Rosalind, the 2020 recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Education, has designed and implemented curricular innovations which empower students to cultivate their nursing identity and self-reflective capacity while engaging in a competency-based clinical curriculum.

At a Glance

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion: Education and the Process of Learning

Words of Wisdom for Nurses: “Stay true to yourself and don’t lose sight of who you are as a nurse.”

Favorite Self Care Tip: “Take a moment before each patient and become grounded in who you are and where you are.”

Rosalind served as the Director of Education for a new hospital in Abu Dhabi, where she created a new nurse orientation program for nurses coming from abroad to work in the UAE. She built a skills workshop focused on core nursing skills and developing cultural humility for nurses from around the world. “It was my first educational leadership position and I fell in love with it…Striving to have a deeper understanding of what it takes to engage with a nurse and to walk beside them in their path toward attaining a new skill set has really driven me.”

“Striving to have a deeper understanding of what it takes to engage with a nurse and to walk beside them in their path toward attaining a new skillset has really driven me.”

Now serving as an Associate Clinical Professor with the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing, Rosalind uses a holistic approach with her students: one that emphasizes both nursing science and the cultivation of a nursing identity. “So often, new clinicians are trying so hard to get it right that they lose track of who they are as a nurse. What you bring to the work as an individual is just as important as the clinical knowledge,” she says. “In mental health nursing, we don’t have monitors or test results to tell us the diagnosis, it’s about your therapeutic use of self and engaging deeply with your patients.” Rosalind encourages her students to develop their “unique style” as a nurse knowing that they bring their style with them to every patient encounter.

Rosalind led a multi-year revision of the clinical curriculum in the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner program at UCSF to better prepare students for clinical care, from modifying course content, designing a competency-based clinical evaluation tool, and incorporating critical reflection to implementing new strategies for increasing first-year clinical placements. In 2019 she was funded by the California Health Care Foundation to lead the development of a multi-campus post-master PMHNP certificate program. “[Rosalind] has led curricular improvements with significant impacts, including the creation of a first-of-its-kind California statewide PMHNP post-master’s training program,” says Matt Tierney, her colleague. “This program will train existing nurses to be PMHNPs, helping them meet the mental health needs in our large and geographically diverse state.” The program will train 300 primary care NPs to become PMHNPs by 2025.

Rosalind is committed to workforce development and has led several grant-funded projects that mentor community-based PMHNP clinicians in becoming clinician educators and expert preceptors. She is First Generation (FirstGen) to college and has been a mentor for UCSF’s FirstGen program. When forming mentoring relationships, Rosalind emphasizes that self-care is a crucial component of compassion towards self and patients. “Self-care is very much connected to self-awareness,” she says. “Some form of mindfulness or grounding before every patient encounter ensures presence and objectivity with every patient that we see.”

In addition to her work with UCSF, Rosalind was a Veteran’s Administration’s Advanced Health Professions Fellow. As a fellow, she developed a PMHNP Residency Training Curriculum, a model curriculum that is aligned with national accreditation standards for PMHNP residencies. Rosalind’s work anticipates the need to develop educational evaluation standards for psychiatric nurses at the post-graduate level, while also preparing the workforce,” says Tierney.

When discussing strategies for grounding and building resilience with her students, Rosalind has some unique advice. “I talk to my students about the power of visualization. I visualize myself as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” she says. “I visually imagine myself putting my turtle suit on and activating it and through that process, I ready myself to engage with patients and be able to talk about traumatic events. My shell prevents me from soaking up all that emotion in the moment.” Turtle shell or no, Rosalind is a model educator. Through her diligence and care, she is preparing the next generation of psychiatric-mental health nursing heroes.