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American Psychiatric Nurses Association Announces 2021 APNA Annual Awards Recipients

Eight psychiatric-mental health nurses selected to receive awards that recognize excellence in psychiatric-mental health nursing.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) announced the eight nurses in the field of psychiatric-mental health nursing who will be honored for their work at the APNA 35th Annual Conference. This year’s awards recipients were nominated by their colleagues and chosen for this honor by a committee of their peers. They include nurses working to fill gaps in psychiatric-mental health education, reduce stress in pandemic-weary healthcare workers, and improve quality of life for Veterans seeking mental health services.

“The APNA Annual Awards showcase the accomplishments of nurses whose work improves the lives of individuals, their families, and communities,” says APNA President Matthew Tierney, MS, CNS, ANP, PMHNP, FAAN, “I am thrilled to celebrate these outstanding nurses at the upcoming APNA Annual Conference. Each of this year’s recipients personify our conference theme, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Revolutionizing Access to Person-Centered Care.”

Evelyn Parrish, PhD, APRN-BC, FAANP, Associate Professor, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, will be awarded Psychiatric Nurse of the Year, for providing superb psychiatric-mental health nursing patient care and service in clinical leadership positions. She has positively impacted quality of care through policy development, implementation and evaluation, and the use of best evidence in clinical practice. By increasing advanced practice education offerings, she helped to improve access to mental health treatment in underserved rural areas.

Carol Essenmacher, DNP, NCTTP, National Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, Indiana University School of Nursing, will receive the Award for Distinguished Service, for her efforts to promote and advance psychiatric-mental health (PMH) nursing within APNA, including serving as expert faculty for the APNA Motivational Interviewing educational program and leading the development of the APNA Nursing Competencies for Treating Tobacco Use Disorders.

Michael Terry, DNP, FNP, PMHNP, Clinical Professor University of San Diego, will receive the Award for Excellence in Education, for his dedication to all facets of preparing nurses to serve in psychiatric-mental health, including teaching, advising, mentoring, designing an innovative behavioral health simulation, and pursuing grants for augmenting existing curriculum. His most recent grant will increase clinical training sites at integrated community health centers by fifty percent.

Barbara (Bambi) Carkey, DNP, PMHNP-BC, NPP, Adjunct Instructor, College of Nursing, Upstate Medical University, will receive the Award for Excellence in Leadership – APRN, for forging partnerships with mental health agencies and clinicians to expand educational experiences. As a result, more PMH-APRN providers are delivering mental health services in rural and underserved communities in Central and Northern New York state.

Stephanie Verdeflor, MSN, RN-BC, Nurse Clinician, New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center, will receive the Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN, for instilling patient-centered care practices while leading with a sense of calm. By demonstrating humor and optimism she garners support for important initiatives and models the positive aspects of PMH nursing care.

Donna Gaffney, BSN, MA, MS, DNSc, PMHCNS-BC, Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse and Psychotherapist, will receive the Award for Excellence in Practice – APRN, in recognition for providing needed self-care tools to nurses serving during the current pandemic, as well as contributions to the healing of surviving families during catastrophic events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

Asneth Thomas-Rowe, BSN, RN, Nurse Manager, Bruce W. Carter Veterans Healthcare Administration, will receive the Award for Excellence in Practice – RN, for improving processes and standardized care for Veterans, especially in the areas of suicide precautions and alcohol use assessments, enhancing the quality of care and outcomes for these individuals.

Ursula Kelly, PhD, APRN, ANP-BC, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, Associate Professor, Emory University, will receive the Award for Excellence in Research for ground-breaking studies that have tracked the acceptability and feasibility of providing trauma-sensitive yoga to women Veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to military sexual trauma.


About the APNA Annual Conference:
The APNA 35th Annual Conference will be held in Louisville, KY, October 13-16, 2021 and virtually December 10-12, 2021. In addition to honoring this year’s awards recipients, the APNA Annual Conference will deliver over 100 varied sessions and networking opportunities to more than 1600 psychiatric-mental health RNs and APRNs who attend each year.

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 research.

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.