Your monthly psychiatric-mental health nursing news and updates.
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Mental Health Advocacy, Awareness and News
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March, 2020

APNA Member Info

Online Continuing Education
Featured Free CE: Motivational Interviewing

Hot Topic:
Inpatient Unit COVID-19 Procedures

Career Center


APNA Resource Center

APNA Member Benefits

Members' Corner

President's Message: Encouragement in Uncertain Times
While we all try to stay afloat amongst urgent competing priorities and needs, I want to offer you a moment of brightness and warmth. Here are four things to remember as you practice during these unprecedented times. Read More

Nurses in Action: A Virtual Book Club Offers Connection & Support
When posed with the challenge of the rural nature of Arizona, the APNA Arizona Chapter created a unique opportunity to connect its members through a virtual book club. In this time of social distancing, a virtual book club offers a means for interaction within your community without physical proximity. We spoke to Pamela Lusk, DNP, RN, FAANP, APNA about the virtual book club. Hear from Pamela

Member News
Susan Brown and May Linn Nara present on adverse childhood experiences; Linda Grabbe details the Community Resilience Model as it applies to homeless youth in the Atlanta area; Deborah Johnson to co-direct UCSF’s new online training for PMHNPs; Andrew Penn writes blog addressing mental health and the coronavirus; Leslie Robbins appointed Dean of University of Texas at El Paso School of Nursing; Rosemary Smentkowski helps pioneer pharmacology course for nurses. Learn More

Featured Resource: COVID-19 and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses
As circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic change, psychiatric-mental health nurses continue to provide crucial mental health care to individuals who need it. To support your work, and make sure that you still practice self care during this stressful time, here is a collection of resources. View Now

Year of the Nurse: Alysha Woods, MSN, PMHNP-BC
Alysha WoodsDuring the Year of the Nurse, each newsletter will highlight a psychiatric-mental health nursing leader! Here is what APNA California Chapter President Alysha Woods, MSN, PMHNP-BC, has to share: "I have truly enjoyed learning from the amazing psychiatric nurses all around our state (and nation!), making meaningful connections, and learning new and better ways to practice mental health care. I have gained massive support from [this] community in personal and professional life...No connection is not meaningful! I think being a great leader is being a great listener and learner. Your students, mentors, colleagues, interdisciplinary team members all can teach you something. Stay curious!"

Responding to Concerns around Educational Needs – Free Online Course
In response to concerns around educational needs of nurses and nursing students, the APNA online course Motivational Interviewing, already free for APNA members, is now free to access for everyone through the end of the year. In addition to 3 contact hours, this course includes simulation and interactive components – educational experiences that are helpful to engage you when face-to-face interaction is limited, and which may help* for meeting some schools’ current requirements for class time or clinical hours.*Check with your school for requirements. Access Course

Online Learning Opportunities
With the widespread cancellation of in-person educational events, online learning is paramount for earning contact hours and brushing up on best practices. New opportunities in the APNA eLearning Center include podcast recordings from the 2019 APNA Annual Conference, the 2020 Competency Based Training for Conducting the One-Hour Face-to-Face Assessment for Patients in Restraints or Seclusion, and Medication Assisted Treatment: Medications For Addiction Treatment/Substance Use Disorders 16 Hour Waiver Training. APNA members also have access to 4 free sessions every month and receive bonus points for use in the APNA eLearning Center upon joining or renewing!

APNA 18th Annual Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute
The 2020 CPI will offer 23 pharmacology contact hours in psychopharm updates you need to provide the best possible care. APNA is diligently staying abreast of issues that impact this conference and exploring a variety of options for ensuring that this cutting-edge content is available to you with your registration. Whether the conference continues as planned, is postponed a few months, or offered with virtual streaming options (or a combination of these), APNA is dedicated to ensuring that you get the education you need. Registration is open and we will provide more updates as they are available!.

Resource Roundup

  • COVID-19: Tips for Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Quick summaries of policy updates, tips, and helpful info from existing resources on one page for easy scanning.
  • Managing Stress & Self-Care During COVID-19: Information for Nurses: Guidance for all nurses as they manage stress and anxiety during this time.
  • Traumatic Events Resources: SAMHSA offers its National Guidelines for Mental Health Crisis Care: A Best Practices Toolkit.
  • Organizational Responses: Letter offering feedback to ANA on Ethical Environments and Patient and Personal Safety.
  • APNA Advocacy: Letter to Congressional leaders naming shared priorities in the COVID-19 legislative package under consideration; Letter to Committee on Veterans' Affairs supporting the United States Cadet Nurse Corps Service Recognition Act of 2019
  • Opioid Use Disorders Resources: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Jails and Prisons - Planning and Implementation Toolkit.
  • Policy Statement: APNA Position Paper (White Paper) Process and Guidelines updated.
  • Nursing Reports and Surveys: Special Collection of Workforce articles in JAPNA plus the latest RN survey data from Health Resources & Services Administration.

New Members: 751 New Members since January!

Issues & Events

Below are several COVID-19 (coronavirus) resources and news items -

  • On Tuesday, March 18, Nursing community leaders—met with President Trump, Vice President Pence and members of the Trump Administration's Coronavirus Task Force to discuss strategies for strengthening the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the meeting, the group discussed the urgent need for PPE to ensure the safety of all health care providers treating patients with COVID-19.
  • The declaration of a state of emergency allows HHS to waive certain federal licensing requirements for nurses and doctors in order to expand access to services. CMS has offered this guidance for health care providers.
  • HHS waived penalties for HIPAA violations against providers serving patients through technologies like Facetime or Skype during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • SAMHSA has relaxed regulations that require providers to obtain written patient consent for disclosure of substance use disorder records, as it "would not apply in these situations to the extent that, as determined by the provider, a medical emergency exists." 
  • SAMHSA has expanded guidance pertaining to Opioid treatment during the COVID-19 health emergency. States can now request blanket exceptions for stable patients to receive 28 days of take-home medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder.
  • DEA-registered practitioners may prescribe buprenorphine via telehealth to individuals who have not received an in-person medical evaluation so long as the telehealth evaluation is determined adequate by the provider. An in-person evaluation is still required for new OTP patients treated with Methadone.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. A CMS Telemedicine Toolkit helps expand the use of technology to help people needing routine care and keep vulnerable beneficiaries and beneficiaries with mild symptoms in their homes while maintaining access to needed care.
  • CMS Quality Reporting Program Deadline Extensions — CMS is extending the data submission deadlines for its quality reporting programs, including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment Systems (MIPS) program. The data submission deadline for MIPS has been extended from March 31, 2020, to April 30, 2020.

A new survey of primary care physicians appearing in the Alzheimer’s Association 2020 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report finds nearly 9 in 10 primary care physicians (87%) expect to see an increase in people living with dementia during the next five years, but half (50%) say the medical profession is not prepared to meet this demand. The new report estimates there are currently more than 5 million Americans 65+ living with Alzheimer’s — a number expected to nearly triple by 2050. Full Story

Researchers report an advance in the development of a blood test that could help detect pathological Alzheimer’s disease in people who are showing signs of dementia. This approach could be less invasive and less costly than current brain imaging and spinal fluid tests. The blood test detects the abnormal accumulation of a form of tau protein known as phosphorylated-tau-181 (ptau181), which is a biomarker that suggests brain changes from Alzheimer’s. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published on March 2 in Nature Medicine. Full Story

Many experts are now recommending that individuals who have taken antidepressants for years should consider coming off the medication, if symptoms have been resolved. However, researchers warn that terminating this class of medication should happen gradually so as to reduce difficult and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms due to a physical dependence,reported Full Story

In honor of the Year of the Nurse and Nurses Month in May, the American Nurse Association is offering a free webinar on sharing your unique nursing journey via storytelling. Register for Magnify Your Voice – Use Storytelling to Advance Nursing on May 20, 2020 at 1:00pm Eastern. Register by clicking here.

A new international study of approximately 230,000 patients has identified 109 genetic variants associated with eight psychiatric disorders: autism, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette Syndrome, reported Full Story

In a first of its kind study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have identified two distinct subtypes of schizophrenia after analyzing the brain scans of more than 300 patients. The first type of schizophrenia shows lower widespread volumes of gray matter when compared to healthy controls, while the second type has volumes largely similar to normal brains. These differences could lead to more personalized treatment options in the future, reported Full Story

Boulder, CO-based private mental health provider Colorado Recovery has created a new in-home treatment program for people who cannot access care in a traditional office setting. Launched in February, Bridge to You brings Colorado Recovery’s services — diagnosis, therapy, psychiatric nursing, medication management, life skills and more — into a patient’s home, reported the Daily Camera. Full Story

Overall overdose death rates decreased by 4.1% from 2017 to 2018 in the U.S. New CDC data show death rates involving heroin decreased by 4%, and prescription opioid-involved overdose death rates decreased by 13.5%. While progress has been made to combat overdose deaths, death rates involving synthetic opioids (excluding methadone) increased by 10% from 2017 to 2018. Full Story

In an effort to address a shortage of mental health providers in the state of California, UC San Francisco (UCSF), in collaboration with UC Davis and UCLA, has announced the launch of an online training program for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs). The program aims to train 300 new mental health providers to enter the state’s workforce by 2025, reported Full Story


After careful consideration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a final rule to ban electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) used for self-injurious or aggressive behavior because they present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury that cannot be corrected or eliminated through new or updated device labeling. Full Story

Arizona lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey approved legislation aimed at preventing teenage suicides and requiring insurance companies to pay for mental health care under the same rules that apply to physical ailments. Responding to a rapid rise in teenage suicides in Arizona, the House and Senate approved the measure unanimously and Ducey promptly signed it in a public ceremony, reported Full Story


A new report, Making Healthcare Safer III, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reviews 47 practices that target patient safety improvement in hospitals, primary care practices, long-term care facilities and other healthcare settings. Full Story

A crisis services toolkit issued by SAMHSA, National Guidelines for Mental Health Crisis Care, seeks to help states, counties, communities, and providers save lives and dollars by helping them to use a systematic, best practices approach to estimating the crisis system resource needs of each community, projecting the number of persons in the community who can be served by a crisis services system and the costs and workforce demands of serving them, and working toward the desired impact of those services. Full Story

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

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