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A magical time of IDEAS: APNA 37th Annual Conference

A series of pictures from the APNA 37th Annual Conference in October 2023.

Attendees at the APNA 37th Annual Conference in October 2023 enjoyed connecting information and with colleagues.

This past October 4-7, psychiatric-mental health nurses gathered at the APNA 37th Annual Conference to get energized and inspired by the latest advancements and discoveries in the field! This event, the largest in the United States for PMH nurses, was attended in person at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and virtually by more than 2,000.

“The conference was truly a wonderful experience,” one attendee said. “All the sessions were relevant, educational, and inspiring. I felt a shared sense of connection to conference members. There was a positive energy flowing through the conference.”

This year’s theme, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Novel IDEAS Moving Whole Health Forward, was woven throughout the 100+ sessions and poster presentations that comprised the program. This included the Thursday President’s Address from Chizimuzo Okoli. He set the tone for the conference with a thoughtful examination of why inclusion, diversity, equity, access, and de-stigmatization matter to psychiatric-mental health nursing.

Contains quote from APNA President Chizimuzo Okoli: “Indeed, inclusive psychiatric-mental health nursing care responds to the preferences, promotes the autonomy, and gives voice to the diverse views of those to whom we provide care”

Chizimuzo Okoli spoke at the APNA 37th Annual Conference.

According to one attendee, “The Presidential address by Dr. Zim Okoli was excellent. As a minority, his speech resonated with me. I felt he was bold, saying things that had to be said even if some in the room felt uncomfortable or did not agree. He dealt with sensitive topics professionally and with grace. I am glad he represents me as President of the APNA.”

Magical moments at the APNA 37th Annual Conference

Distinguished Service award recipient Mary Ann Nihart is presented her award by APNA President Okoli.

The conference also featured many magical moments — and recognition, too. The recipients of the APNA Memorial Scholarship and the 30 students awarded the APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarships were acknowledged.

The recipients of the APNA Annual Awards, including the 2023 APNA Psychiatric Nurse of the Year Bethany Phoenix and Distinguished Service award recipient Mary Ann Nihart, were also recognized. These awardees inspire with all they have done and what they will do as psychiatric-mental health nurses.

There was more magic at the Enchanted Evening reception. Attendees had caricatures made, took part in a 360° photo booth, and danced – all while letting loose and connecting with their PMH nurse colleagues.

A picture of 2 people on stage at the APNA 37th Annual Conference in October 2023.

Keynote speaker Deshauna Barber helped an attendee understand life balance.

Friday morning started with a keynote presentation from Deshauna Barber, The Care You Give. Barber spoke about the power of finding your purpose and making sure you keep balance in your life. From the line of people waiting to talk with her afterward, it was clear her speech resonated.

In addition to the sessions each day, presenters joined their posters, and then shared more information about their work. As the day drew to a close, attendees formed connections with local and state colleagues at in-person state meetups.

However attendees participated in the conference, they were able to earn up to 27.75 contact hours for attending and evaluating sessions and poster presentations during the event. Attendees can continue to earn up to 90+ contact hours at no additional cost with free session recordings. Presentation topics are, for example, self care, substance & opioid use, education, and so much more. Find those soon in the APNA eLearning Center.

A series of pictures from the APNA 37th Annual Conference in October 2023.

Attendees at the APNA 37th Annual Conference in October 2023 enjoyed connecting information and with colleagues. They gathered information from speakers and posters.

To sum up: What did attendees take away from the Annual Conference?  

  • “I enjoyed attending the conference. I appreciate the meaningful impact psychiatric-mental health nursing brings to individuals and communities. I was honored to be a speaker in this conference.”
  • “The conference was great. I believe I am a better psych nurse practitioner by virtue of the knowledge I acquired from the conference.”
  • Hearing from leaders in the field who were so thoughtful and caring in regard to looking at patients holistically and offering their advice and knowledge on how to treat in a compassionate manner.”

Originally published November 2023

>>> Save the date for the APNA 38th Annual Conference! It’s in Louisville, Kentucky at the Louisville International Convention Center on October 9-12. Considering sharing your own expertise at the event? The Call for Abstracts opens in January, so start brainstorming and finding your collaborators now!


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.