MaryAnne Murray, DNP, EdD, PMHNP-BC
The Nursing Excellence Award honors an AAPPN member who makes a difference to advanced practice psychiatric nursing, the mental health profession, and/or the clients we serve. The AAPPN is proud to recognize MaryAnne Murray as the 2021 Nursing Excellence Award recipient.
MaryAnne is a skilled psychiatric provider and nursing preceptor who advocates for her patients and her colleagues. Her contributions to continuing education and her collaboration with organizations such as Autism COE and ECHO Autism are widely recognized.
She earned an MS in Counseling Psychology and an MSN in Nursing Leadership/Family Nurse Practitioner prior to becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner. MaryAnne precepts numerous psych NP students, offering advice and encouragement to new psych NPs. As a colleague, she is supportive and often offers wisdom on case consults. Her ongoing contributions continue to make a difference to advanced practice psychiatric nursing, the mental health profession, and to clients.
She co-founded and currently co-chairs AAPPN’s Rural Practice Group.
You work in a rural area. What are some challenges and rewards unique to a rural practice?
When a newcomer arrives in a rural community, it takes time to learn local customs and history. Shopping and recreation may not be nearby. For single individuals, dating can be very challenging! Learning the local medical culture is extremely important. If turnover has been high, a new provider faces challenges in earning people’s trust. People flock to a provider who liberally prescribes controlled substances. If a provider is impatient or impolite, that information is readily shared. For several years after I arrived here, I was the only psychiatric provider in the county.
In rural communities’ people seem to recognize that we are all in it together, and some people are highly invested in their communities. Pharmacies may be scarce, but the pharmacists know the population and individual patients, so they may go the extra mile to ensure that people get medication.
Rural life may have a slower pace, minimal traffic, and lots of natural beauty including nearby oceans, lakes, and mountains. In a rural community, a passionate person can make a big difference and have a tremendous positive impact on the community. I joined Rotary Club International and the American Association of University Women and met many people who are invested in the community and readily share important information. This helped me learn the culture quickly.
What have been the biggest rewards of your career?
It is wonderful to have work that I enjoy and that pays well. I love knowing that my work helps people live happier, more productive lives. Also, I get to precept students who are preparing for careers as PMHNPs.
Probably the most satisfying work I’ve done is prescribing Medications for Addiction Treatment in general, and Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv) in particular. People come to me thoroughly wretched with drug addictions, and after a few visits to titrate their doses, their symptoms of opioid withdrawal are completely relieved, and they can function again. The transformation is dramatic and delightful. A repairman came to my home to fix a complex problem. I was stressed about keeping him past quitting time. But he enthused that he would gladly stay as long as necessary, because the MAT that I prescribed had helped him get a good job and multiple promotions.
What would you tell a person just starting a career as a psych NP?
I would congratulate the person on choosing a career that offers great opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives and to relieve a lot of human suffering.
The first year can be tough because it takes time to learn systems, implement what was learned in school, and to document the care delivered, but others —especially our sisters and brothers in AAPPN — are eager to see them succeed. Consult with friends and colleagues about the terms of an employment contract and don’t undersell yourself, tend to self-care, advise your employer of any special needs which may arise, continue ongoing CME/CNE, participate in AAPPN, and attend the conferences and special interest group meetings. Relax knowing that it will get easier over time.
What role has AAPPN played in your career and for the profession?
I became a member of AAPPN when I completed my academic preparation as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) in 2002. I was already licensed as a Chemical Dependency Counselor (CDC—now Substance Use Disorder Professional [SUDP]) and a Mental Health Counselor, so I had a big interest in mental health nursing and hoped to become a PMHNP eventually.
When I took my first FNP position, I moved to Tacoma where I knew no one. Attending the Tacoma chapter meetings of AAPPN helped me connect with the professional community and start a lot of friendships. When I enrolled at the University of Washington’s DNP program in the PMHNP pathway, I was already well-acquainted with many of my professors and student colleagues through AAPPN; this eased my way back into the academic world.
Now when I precept students, I exhort them to become AAPPN members and encourage them to be active in the organization to help shape the future of our profession. I also support the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation for the joy of helping develop the next generation of PMHNPs.