Meet Cheryl Cooke, AAPPN Clinical Member and Board President of the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation.
Cheryl L. Cooke, PhD, DNP, MN, ARNP, PMHNP-BC, is board certified as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. She also holds both research and clinical doctorates and a Master’s in Care Systems Management.
Cheryl is in private practice, working with children ages 5-11 and adults ages 35 and older. In the fall, she will be a UW Integrated Care Program Fellow in Community Care. Her focus will be on taking care of people who are more acutely ill.
As a tenured college professor, she taught courses in nursing research, critical thinking, and community health, and has mentored students. She has conducted community focused qualitative research, served on university and community health committees, and worked as a consultant and expert in race/racism, mental health, women’s health issues, and administration, management, and health policy issues.
Cheryl serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation. The Foundation grew out of the scholarship arm of AAPPN, when in 2016, it was created by a group of dedicated AAPPN members. It is named after Dr. Lois Price Spratlen, an educator and mentor for Advance Practice Psychiatric Nurses. As a mentor and volunteer for the Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses, Dr. Price Spratlen helped members gain knowledge from one another and move beyond the tradition of being educated by those from other professions.
What drew you to join the Foundation Board?
Being part of the leadership of the Foundation is an exciting way to give back to students and to make the psychiatric nurse practitioner profession better known by the general public.
I was honored when my colleague Janiece DeSocio, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, approached me about joining the Board. I knew Dr. Price Spratlen while I was in graduate school and through my involvement with the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization. Her family, particularly her husband, Dr. Thaddeus Spratlen, considered the Foundation to be a legacy for her.
Dr. Spratlen passed away this May at the age of 90. He was a real champion for the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation. He attended every annual gala and truly enjoyed meeting the scholarship recipients. He brought joy and kindness to the Foundation named in honor of his wife and we are so grateful for all he did. His passing is a true loss for the Foundation.
I am humbled to be part of the legacy of the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation.
What’s on the horizon for the Foundation?
I’m thrilled that we will have Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange as the keynote speaker at our 6th Annual Gala. Dr. Edwards Lange was recently selected as chancellor of UW Tacoma. The Lois Price Spratlen Foundation Gala will be held remotely this year, via Zoom on Sunday, October 24, 2021 from 1:30-3:00 PM.
The Foundation is also developing some new initiatives, including deepening its support of students of color and relaunching its community grants program.
What is your perspective on the next generation of psychiatric nurse practitioners?
First, they are coming of age in an unusual time. They have been exposed to a global pandemic and a reckoning of racial justice/racism in the US. From these experiences, they have developed a keen sense of individual, family, and community challenges related to social justice. They are aware of access to care issues, and specifically access to psychiatric care. They want to explore the social determinants of health and the impact of income inequality.
I think the next generation of psychiatric nurse practitioners will be more global in their thinking about improving mental health. As a faculty member, I saw first-hand how my students approached issues from multiple critical perspectives and were more open to asking hard questions. They also insist on holding higher education leaders to greater standards.
What is the importance of supporting students?
To put it simply, it’s extremely difficult to go to graduate school. First, it’s expensive, more expensive than when I was in graduate school. Many students are going to school, plus working, plus taking care of families. Even a $2,000 scholarship can help alleviate some of the worry and financial stress, and consequently improve a student’s academic performance and care to patients.
It’s also a personal cause for me. Scholarships helped me when I was in grad school. That extra support and recognition told me that someone else understood and wanted to make my life a little bit better.
What has been the most pleasant surprise or lesson learned in your career?
I never thought I would be a psychiatric nurse practitioner in private practice! My first love was research. I was motivated by the mental health issues of one of my research groups to go back to school to become board certified as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
I am surprised that I find doing one-on-one care so rewarding. I especially like working with children and families, as well as teaching and supporting parents. Also, since college students and young adults have normalized cannabis and alcohol intake, I discovered that I had to learn a different way of thinking about and working with this group.