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2020 Award for Innovation – Chapter

APNA Arizona Chapter

When the leaders of the APNA Arizona Chapter were seeking a way to bring their geographically diverse members together, they did not suspect they would be forging a path that organizations everywhere would soon be traversing: How can we facilitate personal connection without everyone being in the same room?

At a Glance

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Passion: Involving and connecting chapter members through Book Club.

Words of Wisdom for Nurses: “Our work is important and intense. Encourage and support each other in our common role as PMH nurses, though we are in very different settings.”

Favorite Self Care Tip: “Listen to audio books while commuting! Make a point of not listening to anything that is not pure pleasure. It is your time to leave everything behind.”

By virtually convening around a book discussion, psychiatric-mental health nurses in Arizona have become energized as they share knowledge and ideas – so much so that APNA folks from around the country want in on the conversation! For launching a virtual book club and creating a safe space for their chapter members to learn and engage, the APNA Arizona Chapter is the 2020 recipient of the APNA Award for Innovation – Chapter.

The book club started after a serendipitous turn of events. Temporary Chapter Leader Pamela Lusk, RN, DNP, PMHNP-BC, was fresh from attending an APNA 33rd Annual Conference session based on a successful academic book club, when she participated in the APNA Arizona Chapter’s meeting at the conference that same day. When the question of how to increase member participation was raised, the answer was clear: Let’s start a book club of our own.

“Participants come from inpatient PMH nursing, child and adolescent outpatient settings, colleges, adult outpatient settings, community mental health, and gerontology/psychiatric-mental health settings,” says Pam. “The experience level of participants ranges from students to PMH nurses new to their role to experienced PMH faculty – and everywhere in between.” With a core group who attend faithfully, the discussions are enlivened with participation from nurses nationwide who can find out about meeting details on APNA’s Member Bridge.

“This book club allows us to gather as professionals and feed our spirit of inquiry as we tap into our desire for camaraderie.”

Arizona is a large state with chapter participation traditionally coming from more the densely populated urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Through the book club, participants from rural areas have been drawn in. With many organizations looking for ways to gather without physical proximity during the coronavirus pandemic, the timing couldn’t have been better. The Arizona Chapter book club had already proven itself as a reliable vehicle for convening and informing members, who are driving the book selection and leading the discussions. The emphasis is on how the concepts discussed can be applied to a psychiatric-mental health nursing setting.

Recognizing their part in the larger psychiatric nursing community, the leadership of the APNA Arizona Chapter is encouraging of other groups who might wish to create their own book clubs and is actively sharing their best-practices. “At the APNA Chapter Presidents’ Call, we answered inquiries about our Book Club as a strategy to revitalize a state chapter (our chapter is revitalizing). Book Club is an excellent way to involve and connect chapter members who live many miles apart – and now with safe distancing this online activity is ideal,” exclaims Pam.

Book club participant Melanie Laub, RN, a PMHNP student, notes, “As nurses we often forget how important it is to come together outside of the work setting in a way that helps us learn and grow as well as socialize. This book club allows us to gather as professionals and feed our spirit of inquiry as we tap into our desire for camaraderie.”