Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Learning about Policy & Politics in a PMHNP Program

The education for becoming a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner is not limited to the obvious role of the ARNP. Last fall, I completed a health policy, economics, and politics course at UI. It was really great timing for the course, with the election process happening. And my education was enhanced at the APNA conference where the keynote presentations included information about policies related to the mental health field, and I met some ARNPs who have been very politically involved. When I entered the PMHNP program, I did not realize the importance of being active in understanding and participating in policy shaping and politics like I am coming to appreciate. 

(Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines in August 2009)

The reason I bring up this topic is that I will be spending tomorrow in Des Moines with many of the nurse practitioners from across Iowa for a Legislative Day. I anticipate this will be a great opportunity to learn about current local & national legislative issues and about lobbying. In the afternoon, I will join Iowa ARNPs in meeting with legislators at the State Capitol building. Being from a family where politics were not discussed, I've got an awfully steep learning curve, and I am hopeful that the more I am exposed, the easier it will come!

I am curious to hear from you - how have you been politically active in nursing and mental health? What do you see as our role as psych/mental health nurses?


Friday, January 16, 2009

Back from the Other Side of the World

I'm back now from a wonderful month India and am adjusting to the cold midwest winter. Aside from enjoying my husband's side of the family and soaking in India's amazing culture, I was on the look-out for issues related to mental health while I was on the other side of the world. I'd heard that mental health & illness are not really talked about much in Indian culture; however, I saw a few things that make me think the information is out there. Perhaps it's just not a topic people talk about much. I did see some newspaper articles about suicides in Mumbai while I was there and, in response, some psychiatry med students making a group "no suicide" contract. I don't recall reading news articles in the USA that describe how a person died by suicide.

I wasn't sure what to expect with being in Mumbai so shortly after the 26/11 attacks. I thought I may read or hear something about people dealing with post-trauma responses. I was surprised that I did not. However, when visiting the Gateway of India, right next to the Taj Hotel, I saw this sign: 
The psych nurse in me just had to have a photo. I was tempted to call the number to inquire about how these services were being utilized. I remain curious...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oh, how the days disappear...

I'm taking a short break tonight from what is becoming my heaviest academic semester. I keep reminding myself that I really do love this type of stress - finishing clinical practicum hours, papers, group projects, and all those other great parts of being in a PMHNP-graduate program! Despite the heavy load, I have taken some time to enjoy a couple extra-curricular things that I'd like to share with you.

I had the opportunity to attend a presentation here in Iowa City in mid-November that was truly moving - Jerry Friedman, a photographer and author, discussed his book "Earth's Elders: The Wisdom of the World's Oldest People." Friedman has travelled around the world, listening to the stories of dozens of supercentenarians, people who have lived over 110 years. It was fascinating to hear him describe some of the experiences of these individuals - their humor, faith, optimism, and the importance of their families. I feel honored to share my time with any elder, particularly those I have seen in the nursing homes this semester. And I got the sense that Friedman feels the same way about these supercentenarians! Have you seen this book? Or heard Friedman speak? I'd like to hear :)

Another neat thing that has happened since my first post is that I prepared and presented two lectures for nursing students in the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing course at UI. Before doing this as part of my Teaching Assistant role, I don't think I fully appreciated the time and energy that a professor dedicates to this component of the job! I loved sharing some of my knowledge and experiences with the class, and I was thankful for the insightful questions the students asked. My excitement and enjoyment in teaching just these two classes has me thinking more and more that I'd like to continue doing these types of things!

It is nearly every day that I consider something I learned or experienced at the APNA Conference... Today, my thoughts turned to how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to attend the Conference. As I am swamped with classes (and packing my bags for India), I think of all the psychiatric/mental health nurses I met and of all the hard work they have done. And I hope I'm on a similar path to becoming one of those great leaders.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Hi! My name is...

With an introduction like that, how could I decline this opportunity to try my hand at joining my passion for psych/mental health nursing with blogging? Especially considering the impact the 22nd Annual APNA Conference had on me, something I certainly intend to share with you in coming posts.

So, who the heck am I, that graduate student in Iowa referred to in the previous post? My name is Bonnie D'Souza, and I'm enrolled in the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Iowa. While I've been a nurse for just over 3 years now, my heart has been in psych nursing for much longer than that. I went into my BSN program at Lewis University with a strong suspicion of my future specialty and am intensely satisfied with how my interest has grown. My particular interests lie in geropsychiatric nursing, end-of-life and bereavement, and research.

Thinking in true Wheel-of-Fortune-style introductions... :) I've been with a wonderful man for 6+ years and married him 2 1/2 years ago. He grew up in India, and we're planning to travel there this winter. We don't have children yet but are hopeful to someday. When I'm not glued to my text books and computer for classes, I love to spend my time baking, drinking coffee, reading, wandering bookstores & libraries, and playing photographer.

(The graduate student APNA-Janssen Scholars - Thanks to Pat for taking this!)

I am one of the 30 individuals honored this year with being selected as an APNA-Janssen Scholar. Hopefully, you will be hearing from a couple of them on this blog throughout the year! A large part of that award was having the opportunity to attend the APNA 22nd Annual Conference in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. This was truly a wonderful experience, one that allowed me to meet and spend time with some of the leaders in psychiatric/mental health nursing. I'm not just referring to the keynote speakers and those who gave presentations or had posters, but all those nurses I met in the elevator or sat next to at the concurrent sessions. And how can I not mention the other APNA-Janssen Scholars? This group of nurses and future nurses, my peers, who are so bright, interesting, and talented. I have no doubt that our generation will continue to bring these qualities to psych/mental health!

I am looking forward to blogging over the coming year. I hope to share with you some of my experiences, thoughts, and questions as a young nurse in the PMHNP program. But it doesn't stop there - I also want to hear from you. What are your experiences and insights? What do you wonder about? It's in the coming together that we can accomplish powerful things!

You can begin by commenting on this first post - how neat is it that two of the people who comment on the first post will be selected to receive a book! That's great! I'd do it!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Year, New Blogger & some Blog Candy

We've just wrapped up the APNA 22nd Annual Conference. This was our most successful conference to date with over 1,000 attendees. We are working on convincing a graduate student in Iowa to take over the blog for the year. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her insight into psych nursing and the world around her is eye-opening.

Hopefully, we will see her first post soon. Please welcome her and subscribe so you can get her latest posts. Also, don't forget to leave comments. We will randomly pick 2 people who comment on her first post to received the new book Carved in Sand.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last Blog

My blogging for APNA is at an end. Hopefully the tradition can continue. Each year more and more nurses join APNA, increasing the ratio of members that are used to and familiar with online resources such as this blog. So this kind of thing should have a future. But without member participation it is quite difficult. This lack of participation is normal in the first year of any endevour though.

In the last year, especially the last 6 months, I have been adding to my fund of knowledge more then ever before in psych. nursing. But sometimes it get's lonely in the office. And belonging to an organisation like APNA becomes essential.

I go now to the first pre-conference session here in the Twin Cities. I hope I will see you at the conference. Thank you for sticking with me the last year.

Peace, Gisli

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

APNA Conference in 10 days

Hope everybody is fired up for our convention. I am getting excited.

as we all know, it is not easy to get a psych nurse excited...

Plan to go to the sleep workshop. I find I am giving out Trazodone, Seroquel and other agents for sleep quite frequntly. I review the sleep hygiene points but sometimes the few minutes I spend on it seem to fall on deaf ears. Sometimes I probably don't spend enough time on sleep hygiene with clients. It is way easier to just write out a script, at least for me, in the short term.

I am hoping this seminar will keep me alert and on track.

See you there.