Sara Jones Named American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Fellow

By Spencer Watson

Jones is the coordinator for the psychiatric mental health specialty in the college’s nurse practitioner program,

“Becoming a Fellow in the academy will better equip me more as a role model and a leader at the national level in advanced nursing practice,” said Jones, who joins colleagues Darlene Byrd, D.N.P., RN, APRN, and Donna Gullette, Ph.D., APRN, as AANP Fellows.

Gullette was the secondary sponsor of Jones’ application, while Susie Adams, Ph.D., of Vanderbilt School of Nursing, was her primary sponsor.

“Susie Adams has been a mentor of mine for five years, so to have her put the Fellow medallion on me was pretty special,” said Jones. “Being recognized by your peers is always meaningful, but to also be recognized by someone who is a mentor – someone who is invested in you and whom you really respect – is an honor.”

In selecting Jones as a Fellow, the academy recognized her work in education as coordinator of the only psychiatric nurse practitioner specialty program in Arkansas and her research about the mental health needs of emergency first responders.

“Instead of me offering forced solutions, I’m asking first responders what they want in terms of mental health care services in order to identify more effective solutions. And asking them is what’s going to make mental health services more acceptable in the community of first responders,” said Jones.

Her research has garnered attention regionally and even nationally.

“People from all across the nation have called me to ask what I’m doing and how I’m doing it and why I’m doing it,” she said. “It’s a hot topic right now, but it’s something I’ve been doing for over five years.”

Jones’ work is of interest to AANP as an organization that promotes not only education and research, but also nursing practice and policy. As a Fellow, Jones will have the opportunity to share her work with a national audience of nurse practitioners, who in turn can help shape new approaches to mental health care policies for first responders across the country.

“I’m grateful to have this opportunity to talk to nurses across the nation to help them understand the importance of integrated mental health screenings and interventions for first responders, related to their lives and their work,” she said. “We all need to better recognize that mental health needs regular monitoring and maintenance, just like any other aspect of our wellbeing.”