Psychopharmacology for Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses Conference, Philadelphia, October 25-27, 2002. (Psychopharmacology Conference Wrap-Up)

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If the numerous positive comments from the evaluations are an accurate indicator, the Psychopharmacology Conference in Philadelphia was wildly successful.

More than 300 nurses attended the two-and-a-half-day conference and communicated their excitement and satisfaction both in writing and verbally. Attendees were pleased with the excellent speakers, delivery format, comprehensive coverage of the neurobiology and psychopharmacology of psychotropic drugs, and practical information for nursing management. It seems there was the right mixture of sophisticated and needed information made understandable at a level for both beginning and experienced nurse prescribers. "This is exactly what I came for" was heard over and over again. Apparently there is a huge need for advanced practice psychiatric nurses to learn the "art of prescribing" from their qualified peers in a language commensurate with nursing practice.

The keynote speaker, Ann Hales, PhD, RN, set the tone for the conference by sharing findings from her research--"pearls of wisdom" and personal stories of psychiatric APNs who were pioneers in the field of prescribing. Many in the audience were comforted by her words that even experienced nurses are nervous and anxious about the responsibility of prescribing. Next was a very lively debate between Wanda Mohr, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Bonnie Raingruber, PhD, RN, CS, on the topic: "Resolved that biochemical imbalance and neurobiological changes in the brain are the root of mental illness." The debate was a clever way to highlight the importance of honoring nurses' identity as nurturers while incorporating the reality of the biology of mental illness.

Susan McCabe, EdD, RN, CS, and Kathleen Walker, PhD, RN, CS, stole the hearts of the audience with their brilliant and understandable presentation on the neurobiology, psychopharmacology, and nursing management of depression. "I could listen to these two women all day," was one of the comments on the evaluations. The first day ended with a dinner symposium featuring two speakers: Norman Keltner, EdD, RN, demonstrating a keen sense of humor along with an in-depth understanding of schizophrenia and the new therapies available; and Mary Moiler, MSN, APRN, CS, CPRP, who kept the audience alert with her dynamic style and amazing array of knowledge of schizophrenia from practical experience.

Saturday was another full day with concurrent sessions on Alzheimer's, bipolar, ADHD, and anxiety. Evelyn Parrish, MSM, RN, CS, did a great job integrating "Aging with Grace" with the neurobiology of Alzheimer's and sharing stories to make the content more understandable. …