APNA News: The Psychiatric Nursing Voice | May 2016 Members' Corner Edition
I love being a nurse. More specifically, I love being a psychiatric-mental health nurse. As we join our colleagues from across nursing in celebrating Nurses Week, I think it’s important to also celebrate our remarkable contributions as psychiatric-mental health nurses.
The Singularity of Our Role
When I reflect on the singularity of our role, I am struck by the individuals we serve who are the core of everything we do. We have the amazing privilege of connecting with individuals during their most vulnerable moments - in crisis, facing death or loss, and in situations often laden with negative emotions. We witness the struggles of a young woman who has been raped trying to overcome this most personal violation to recover her sense of self and dignity. We hear the fears of a caregiver struggling as the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease change their parent or partner. We listen with patience and compassion as we piece together a message conveyed through psychosis. And we sit with the individual considering suicide as the final solution. Year after year, the public considers nurses the number one most trusted profession. Nursing, caring, healing: each seems synonymous with trust.
We Stay True to Our Core
Psych nurses first staked out our space within the nursing community in the 19th century. We played an integral role in changing public perception of mental health conditions - that they could be improved and even cured through appropriate treatment. Beginning with the theories of Hildegard Peplau, the interpersonal relationship has proven critical to creating an environment in which healing occurs. Later, behavioral, cognitive, biopsychosocial and other theories expanded our practice, but always we meet the individual as they are in the context of their lives. Under the stewardship of many nurse leaders, psychiatric-mental health nursing became established and professionalized. As science has forged new frontiers and the health care system has evolved, so has how and where we practice. What remains at our core is our dedication to providing transformative holistic care and offering hope to persons with mental health needs. This core is unique to us! It is central to the high public trust in which we are held. Let’s celebrate and inspire by doing what we do best and sharing what it is we do as leaders in our hospitals, schools, clinics, and communities.
Our Unique Skills Foster Safety
Remember, as a part of Nurses Week, APNA put together an online safety ‘toolbox’ of sorts, which includes numerous resources to support safety in our practice. We’ve even put together some key messages for you to use to highlight the unique spot we as psychiatric-mental health nurses occupy at the intersection of safety, leadership, and awareness. Please make use of this resource and share it with your colleagues – visit www.apna.org/safety to check it out.
Have a wonderful Nurses Week! Thank you for all you do!
Mary Ann Nihart, MA, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC
American Psychiatric Nurses Association
3141 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 625
Falls Church, VA 22042
Toll free: 855-863-APNA (2762)