Reflect on your decision to pursue a specialty within the MSN program, including your professional and academic goals as they relate to your program/specialization.
Post an explanation of your choice of a nursing specialty within the program. Describe any difficulties you had (or are having) in making your choice, and the factors that drove/are driving your decision. Identify at least one professional organization affiliated with your chosen specialty and provide details on becoming a member.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
After working as a bedside nurse for almost ten years, I decided to make my desire to continue my education a reality. I talked to a lot of my friends and coworkers before deciding it was time to take charge.
“Now or Never”
Why I decided to become a PMHNP: Ever since I was a nursing student, I have been passionate about the field of mental health. I always felt that I could understand the material and that it was a fundamental part of who I was. I believed it was time for me to strengthen my position to support my community after spending so much time at the patient’s bedside. I believe I can affect change and be the change after observing so many people—young, middle-aged, and elderly—struggling with mental health difficulties and not receiving the necessary care.
Why go with Walden: Walden gives me greater access to education than I could ever hope for given my familial obligations. The PMHNP concentration at Walden focuses on teaching you how to apply your knowledge to provide comprehensive mental health services that have a positive influence on the lives of individuals, families, and populations.
Walden will help me to learn to interact with patients, perform mental health assessments, make diagnoses, and plan treatment—all through virtual simulations. Discover how to use research to develop, assess, and refine educational materials that best serve the healthcare audience in the community. When high-quality nursing leadership is enacted, positive patient, provider, and system outcomes are demonstrated (Cummings et al., 2010; National Expert Commission, 2012; Wong, Cummings & Ducharme, 2013).
For more than 125 years, professional nursing organizations have supported nursing practice, defined nursing values, and encouraged self-regulation. Dynamic nurse leaders have risen forward over the course of this lengthy history to support and advance the nursing profession by harnessing the influence of the professional nursing organization.
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is the body that regulates the activities and welfare of nurses who work as PMHNPs (APNA). The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) is committed to improving psychiatric nursing through education, the provision of pertinent resources, and the creation of a cooperative framework for PMHNPs. Members must register for a free membership account on the organization’s website in order to join. In addition, the organization requests evidence of the applicant’s status as an active-duty nurse, and it charges a subscription fee based on the applicant’s needs and professional standing (American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 2022). The member is qualified to take part in planned activities and cooperative projects if approved by the organization (American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 2022). I aim to join APNA given that the specialty I choose is PMHNP.
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and de-Stigmatization are important to all of us, as Mr. Okoli, the president of APNA, said: “We honor APNA’s basic values of inclusivity, integrity, and empowerment — and our core ideology to be the unifying voice of psychiatric-mental health nursing.
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The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program is my primary interest and first option among Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree programs. My second or preferred option is the Nursing Informatics program. These two programs specialize in separate areas and equip graduates for various roles in the healthcare system. The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program focuses on advanced nursing skills for psychiatric or mental health patients. Graduates are prepared to provide comprehensive mental health care to patients of all ages, including assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plans (National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education, 2016).
The focus and scope of practice of these two programs are essential differentiators. While the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner degree focuses on individual mental health care, the Nursing Informatics program leverages technology and data to improve population healthcare delivery. The precise competencies necessary for each program are another differentiation. The Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program requires Population-Focused Nurse Practitioner competencies (Population-Focused Competencies Task Force, 2013), whereas the Nursing Informatics program requires informatics, leadership, and healthcare systems competencies (American Nurses Association, 2015).
Furthermore, socioeconomic disparities in mental health care access and treatment highlight the importance of this specialty. Low-income persons, people of color, and those without access to mental health treatment are disproportionately affected by mental illness (Jenkins et al., 2020). As a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, I will be able to provide these—marginalized people with inexpensive and accessible mental health care services. I am dedicated to eliminating these inequities by delivering high-quality mental health care to those in the greatest need and working for policies that increase access to mental health care services.
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) is a professional association representing psychiatric-mental health nurses in the United States. The American Psychiatric Nurses Association aims to promote mental health and wellness through excellence in practice, education, and research (American Psychiatric Nurses Association, n.d.).
This organization offers services for psychiatric-mental health nurses, including continuing education, networking opportunities, and advocacy initiatives. Individuals must meet specific requirements to become members of the APNA. Registered nurses with a current, valid license and a minimum of an associate degree in nursing or a related discipline are eligible for membership. Applicants must also have at least one course in psychiatric-mental health nursing or six months of experience in the field. There are three levels of membership available: full membership, student membership, and retired membership, each with its own set of costs and privileges. In addition to providing resources for members, the APNA is a crucial advocate for policies that promote mental health and improve access to mental health care services. Members of the APNA can help with advocacy by contacting elected officials, attending policy meetings, and participating in grassroots advocacy initiatives. Overall, the APNA is a beneficial professional organization for psychiatric-mental health nursing professionals. Its resources, lobbying initiatives, and networking. Opportunities can assist psychiatric-mental health nurses in their practice and keep them up to date on the most recent advancements in the area.
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Jenkins, M. M., Cofie, L. E., & Johnson-Lawrence, V. (2020). Socioeconomic and Racial/Ethnic
Disparities in Mental Health Care Use: The Impact of the Affordable Care Act.
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