Meet AAPPN Past-President and 2006 and 2017 recipient of the AAPPN Nursing Excellence Award, Mary Moller.
Mary is a distinguished leader of our profession. She completed a BSN in 1971, followed by an MSN in 1982 and a DNP in 2006. She is dually certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric-mental health nursing and a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner. She is an Associate Professor at Pacific Lutheran University, where she is track coordinator for the psychiatric nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice program. She is also the Director of Psychiatric Services for Northwest Center for Integrated Health in Tacoma, where she is in practice as a psychiatric ARNP treating patients in a triple integration agency: substance abuse, mental illness, and primary care. Mary is a frequent lecturer and presented “Fatal Attractions: Psychotropics, Cardio-Pulmonary Drugs, and AntiRetrovirals … Deadly Combinations” at AAPPN’s 2017 Spring Conference.
You are a leader and innovator in our profession and are now training the next generation. What was your early practice like?
When I completed my master’s in 1982, I was in Nebraska, a very restricted practice state. I started conducting community education courses on living with and recovering from mental illness. That led to patients asking me to be their doctor.
I felt badly leaving my patients in Nebraska, but was compelled to move to Spokane, Washington, in 1992 to take advantage of the Nurse Practice Act. In Spokane, I established the first independent rural psychiatric clinic owned and operated by ARNPs. It was then I realized that the heart and soul of advanced practice psychiatric-mental health nursing is the fact we are NURSES first. When in doubt, I relied on my nursing skills to pull me through and do what was best for the patient.
What’s been one of the best things in your career?
Psychiatric nursing has taken me all over the world and it has been a privilege to work with psychiatric nurses and be with psychiatric patients in such diverse areas as Cuba, Israel, Singapore, Australia, China, Denmark, most Canadian provinces, and each state of our blessed USA.
Any tips for new grads?
If you believe first and foremost, “to do the right thing” you will seek information when you don’t know what the right thing is, and you will never go wrong!
What is the one thing you would like to tell all Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses?
NEVER give up on your profession. Psychiatric nursing is the most incredible type of nursing that is possible. We are the architects of our patient’s futures. We are their external egos until they are able to regain their own internal sense of self. We shape their recovery and their ability to rejoin the world—those of you who work in the acute care setting do not get to see the fruits of your labors. But, believe me—you leave an indelible mark on the spirit of each and every patient. Even when you feel all you do is riot control on the unit, the patients are watching and taking their cues from you, the nurse. A kind word, kind eyes, and kind touch are what we are born to give our patients—don’t be afraid to break the rules.