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American Psychiatric Nurses Association Announces 2022 APNA Annual Awards Recipients

Eight psychiatric-mental health nurses shine a light on the valuable and varied role of psychiatric-mental health nurses  

FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA – The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) has announced the selection of eight innovative nurses in the field of psychiatric-mental health as recipients of the 2022 APNA Annual Awards.

The APNA Annual Awards recognize APNA members who demonstrate excellence in psychiatric-mental health nursing practice, education, research, leadership, community efforts, and more. Recipients include those nurses providing crucial mental health care to strengthen individuals, families, and communities; nurses educating peers, students, and others; nurses whose research impacts mental health care; and nurses improving the health of U.S. military servicemembers.

“The APNA Annual Awards celebrate psychiatric-mental health nurses excelling in and expanding our vital and valuable profession,” said APNA President Leslie Oleck, MSN, PMHNP-BC, PMHCNS-BC, LMFT. “We are proud to recognize these eight incredible nurses, as well as all of the psychiatric-mental health nurses providing quality mental health care, which is now more important than ever.”

Nominated by their colleagues, the 2022 APNA Annual Awards Recipients were chosen for this honor by a committee of their peers. These nurses will be honored at the APNA 36th Annual Conference in Long Beach, California, on October 19-22, 2022.

The 2022 APNA Annual Award recipients:

  • Joyce Shea, DNSc, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, Associate Professor at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, is the recipient of the APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year award. Shea has decades of work in research, teaching, writing, and service, including at APNA. Her work includes building a collaboration of more than 40 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grantees across the U.S. to develop a nationally distributed telehealth toolkit for nurse educators. She served for six years as Secretary on the APNA Board of Directors. Most recently, she was co-chair of the APNA task force that updated the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice. Her nominator says, “Dr. Shea’s integrated care accomplishments provide enduring potential to further expand mental health care in new venues at a time when this is a recognized need nationally.”
  • Gail Stern, MSN, RN, PMHCNS-BC, Vice President of the Department of Psychiatry, Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Distinguished Service, which recognizes commitment, initiative, loyalty, integrity, and exceptional and meritorious service to APNA. Stern, a long-time psychiatric-mental health nurse, has been a member of APNA for more than 30 years. She has held several roles on the APNA Board of Directors including President in 2018-2019. She was also Founding President of the APNA Pennsylvania Chapter. Her nominator says, “I came to admire her dedication to APNA and her passion for promoting a philosophy of caring that emphasizes the importance of human connections.”
  • David Foley, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, MPA, Faculty at Hondros College of Nursing in Maumee, Ohio, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Education. During his career, Foley has worked with nursing and theater programs to build scenarios to show effective patient-nurse relationships and culturally competent care for patients with mental health disorders. To help others in the profession, he then adapted them into teaching strategies now published on the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses website. His nominator says, “His leadership has impacted curriculum, pedagogy, and understanding of [psychiatric-mental] health nursing, especially to empower new nurses to function at the widest scope their practice will allow.”
  • Renel Ramos, DNP, MSN, RN, NPP, PMHNP-BC, a major in the U.S. Air Force in San Antonio, Texas, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – APRN. Most recently, Ramos, who serves as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner in the U.S. Air Force, has become responsible for the development and growth of 89 active duty PMH-RNs and PMH-APRNs. She also recently completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice. Her nominator says, “In 2019, she accepted a position at the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency…and took part in several working groups which developed several Defense Health Agency Program Instructions. These program instructions became the cornerstone for mental health care within military health care.”
  • Donna Ecklesdafer, MSN, RN, Neuromodulation Clinic Manager for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in Michigan, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN. Donna is the co-chair of the APNA Neuromodulation Task Force and participates in national workgroups which helped to develop national standards for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She also teaches nursing students and educates nurses and others about neuromodulation treatment options. Her nominator says, “She is known by many for her kind and fun spirit, creating a positive work environment that leads to excellent patient care experiences.”
  • Kristen Bomboy, DNP, APRN-CNP, PMHNP, a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner at Lighthouse Behavioral Wellness Centers in Ardmore, Oklahoma, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Practice – APRN. Bomboy serves clients in underserved counties, assisting clients and their families in handling stressors, which in turn strengthens clients, families, and communities. She is also committed to improving the assessment and management of metabolic syndrome in patients, which can have a life-saving impact. Her nominator says, “Kristen’s commitment to improving the assessment and management of metabolic [syndrome] in patients with serious, chronic, mental illness has made a significant impact on her practice and the practice of her peers.”
  • Sarret Seng, RN, BSN, BA, Clinical Nurse at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Practice – RN. Seng takes part in projects to enhance engagement in smoking cessation among patients at a state psychiatric facility, positively impacting patient care. Realizing the need to address patient addiction during hospitalization and at discharge, Seng assisted in designing educational materials to augment patient engagement and clinician provision of tobacco treatment. She serves the APNA Kentucky Chapter as Treasurer and is now slated to be President-Elect. Her nominator says, “[T]o positively impact patient care in the work setting and organizational setting, she was involved in several projects to enhance engagement in smoking cessation among patients.”
  • Mercy Ngosa Mumba, PhD, RN, CMSRN, FAAN, Associate Professor and Director at the University of Alabama located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is the recipient of the APNA Award for Excellence in Research. An award-winning scientist and philanthropist, Mumba’s research centers on substance use disorders and addictive behaviors and their comorbid mental health conditions. She is currently working on a study that will help psychiatric-mental health nurses identify those who may be more reactive to stress and may need treatments with additional elements focused on stress reduction. Her nominator says, “Her program of research focuses on the integration of care models among treatment facilities, clinicians, community-based support services, peer mentors, professional counselors, and patients – creating a supported ecosystem of treating [opioid use disorder].”


For more information, contact Meaghan Trimyer│ │571-533-1931

About the APNA Annual Conference: The APNA 36th Annual Conference will be held in Long Beach, California, on October 19-22. In addition to honoring this year’s awards recipients, the APNA Annual Conference delivers varied sessions and networking opportunities to more than 1,600 psychiatric-mental health RNs and APRNs who attend.

About APNA: The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is a national professional membership organization committed to the practice of psychiatric-mental health nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems, and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders. APNA’s membership is inclusive of all psychiatric-mental health registered nurses including associate degree, baccalaureate, advanced practice (comprised of clinical nurse specialists and psychiatric nurse practitioners), and nurse scientists and academicians (PhD). APNA serves as a resource for psychiatric-mental health nurses to engage in networking, education, and the dissemination of evidence. The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.