Professional Education | Topic Of Interest

Psychiatric Nursing Conference 2024

Unity in Nursing: Embracing Mental Healthcare Perspectives

Psychiatric Nursing Conference 2024

8:45 – 9:45 a.m. Morning Keynote: “The Power of Evidence Based Practice”, Dr. ‘Joke Ayoola PhD, RN, FAAN

The use of the best research evidence is essential in promoting favorable outcomes for patients in all healthcare settings.  With the increasing complexities of healthcare needs and the diversity of the population in the United States, it is imperative for nurses to rely on the best evidence to support their practice. This presentation will mainly focus on sharing inspiring stories from nurses who have successfully implemented evidence-based practices in diverse healthcare settings. These stories have been linked to the improvement of care quality, patient safety, and overall positive outcomes.

10:00 – 11:30 a.m. “The Power of Pronouns”, Jay Knight DNP, MSN, RN (they/them/theirs)/Jennie Knight BS (she/her/hers). This presentation utilizes a combination of evidence-based practice and research to level set, explore and intervene to build affirming environments. It is designed with curriculum to meet the needs of both the novice and expert as it relates to LGBTQ+ health inequities, care delivery and communication tools for both clinical and nonclinical community members. Content is directly influenced by research to support health disparity and inequity discussions as well as evidence-based tools to address them. Case studies and personal stories are leveraged to provide background to the experience of being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Breakout Sessions:

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

  • “Snap Judgment: Language as a Treatment Plan”, Jay Knight DNP, MSN, RN (they/them/theirs)/Jennie Knight BS (she/her/hers). This interactive session builds on the previous session and allows learners to go into more depth on this important topic.
  • “The Roles of Psychiatric Culinary Medicine in the Management of Mental Health Conditions”, April Hackett MS, RDN. Food provides the essential nutrients to fuel both biological and psychological human behavior. Recognition of symptoms of malnutrition, methods of assessment of the underlying mechanisms, and coordination of critical clinical interventions has the power to positively influence the human population.  Nutritional insecurity, eating disorders, and poorly managed mental health conditions create an endless array of barriers to the optimization of human performance through dietary interventions.

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

  • “Psychedelics in Nursing”, Brittany Spoolstra BSN, RN. This presentation will provide historical overview of use of ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA. Nurses will learn about the clinical presentation of patients using these substances (both therapeutically and in crisis), and the role of the nurse in care and advocacy.
  • “Nurses Caring for Nurses”, Robi Thomas PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC. This presentation is focusing on information about compassion fatigue/burnout and how it impacts nurses, including signs and symptoms of it, what we as nurses (particularly mental health nurses) can do to care for ourselves and each other, and the impact we as nurses have on future nurses re: mentoring them.

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

  • “Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Considerations Related to Mental Health Nursing”, Joe Karb RN, MSN, CENP. During this presentation we will explore the impacts of the biopsychosocial – Spiritual model of care in relation to mental health nursing practice.  We will discuss different the neuropathology related to some common mental illnesses and goals for treatment in relation to this model of care.
  • “Ketamine: Past and present Treatment for Depression”, Donna Ecklesdafer MSN, BSN, RN, Dawn Miller, BSN RN-BC, Joanna Howe, RN. This presentation will explore what ketamine is and how it is used therapeutically. The presentation will explore the history of ketamine use as well as present use in treating for depression.




  • Dr. ‘Joke Ayoola, PhD, RN, FAAN

    Dr. Adejoke B. Ayoola is the Dean of the School of Health and Professor of Nursing at Calvin University. She served as the Nursing Program Chairperson from August 2020 to July 2022 after which she was appointed the Inaugural Dean of the School of Health. She is a nurse scientist, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar (2012-2015 Cohort) with a research background that focuses on advancing the science of health promotion among women and girls from various economic, educational and ethnic backgrounds by focusing on increasing women’s knowledge and understanding of reproductive physiology and contraception. She created the Preconception Reproductive Knowledge Promotion (PREKNOP) program for women and launched Health Education And Leadership Training for a Hopeful future (H.E.A.L.T.H.) Camp initiative for girls aged 9-75 years. Dr. Ayoola serves as a leader in the nursing profession and in the community. She served as the chair of the faculty development at Calvin University Nursing Department for over 10 years. She was the President of Sigma International Society of Nursing, Kappa Epsilon-at-Large Chapter (2013-2014). She also served as the Chair of the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) Women’s Health & Transitions in Childbearing Research Section (2017-2018). She currently serves on the board of a university-wide committee, the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin University. She is also the leader of the African Ladies Fellowship, an agent of the African Resource Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • Dr. Jay Knight, DNP, MSN, RN, pronouns (they/them/theirs)

    Dr. Knight began has been a healthcare professional since 2004 including roles within hemodialysis, emergency department staff nurse, hospital supervisor, nursing informaticist, stroke nurse navigator, health plan innovations, and most recently as nursing faculty at Grand Valley State University. Dr. Knight identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and started unpacking their nonbinary gender identity in 2018. They have extensive educational experience and has been leading both traditional and non-traditional classrooms for 25 years including healthcare specific audiences and topics since 2015. Dr. Knight completed their doctorate in nursing practice with their dissertation focusing on addressing LGBTQ+ health disparities and HIV prevention. They were the project lead for the implementation of SOGI data collection and use at a large health system during their time as a nursing informaticist.
  • Jennie M Knight BS, pronouns (she/her/hers)

    Jennie has been a part of the LGBTQ+ community for more than 30 years and has extensive experience in advocacy for affirming environments for over 15 years. She has worked in healthcare leadership for 20+ years in a variety of environments including behavioral health, addiction medicine, cancer health, FQHCs and community medicine. During Jennie’s time in healthcare spaces, she started a LGBTQ employee resource group (AKA inclusion resource group), chaired a professional inclusion program at her local chamber of commerce, been a member of the board of directors for a local LGBTQ resource center, created the “Top Surgery” clinic for transgender men at a local health system, and serves as the vice-president for the Grand Rapids LGBTQ+ Healthcare Consortium. Currently Jennie is the executive director for the Grand Rapids LGBTQ+ Healthcare Consortium, one of the most influential nonprofits in the area seeking to address health disparities LGBTQ+ community members are experiencing.
  • April N. Hackert, MS, RDN

    Professor April N. Hackert, MS, RDN is an internationally recognized Psychiatric Culinary Medicine Research Dietitian, Nutritional Neuroscientist, Chef, Eating Disorder specialist, and the Founder of Choose to Change Nutrition Services. As a scientific author birthing the use of Nutritional Neuropsychology and Forensic Culinary Medicine in conjunction with Medical Nutrition Therapy, this visionary orator is an international public policy advocate for the healing power of food on mental health. As a passionately articulate teacher, scientific researcher, and culinary wizard, April brings over two decades of experience to her food chemistry-inspired, culinary creations. She strives to communicate scientific principles in an entertaining and meaningful language. Her clinical work and research encompass a deep curiosity about the interconnected dietary and psychological belief patterns among humans with symptoms of anxiety. Watch April’s TEDx talk entitled, “Turn in at the fork” or find numerous pictures of her culinary creations on Instagram (@healingkitchen). You can also follow: “#adventuresofapril #whatsyoursbutterhead #foodmatters #eatmore” for the latest updates in her capers.
  • Brittany Spoolstra BSN, RN

    A registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ferris State University, Brittany has seven years of experience as a psychiatric nurse and currently works at the Neuromodulation Clinic at Pine Rest. She holds certifications in Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy from Naropa University (2022) and Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy from the Psychedelic Research and Training Institute (2022). Additionally, Brittany is a trainee in the MDMA-assisted therapy program with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
  • Dr. Robi Thomas, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC

    Robi Thomas, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, caritas coach®, has been a nurse for 34 years. She is an associate professor of nursing for the McAuley School of Nursing at University of Detroit Mercy. She also works part time as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. She has presented at the local, state, national and international levels, and has been published in numerous journals.
  • Joe Karb, RN, MSN, CENP

    Joe is the Director of Nursing at Pine Rest. Prior to this, Joe served at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare in various roles including VP of Restorative Care, Director of Mission, Health Equity, and Social Responsibility, and Director of Mental Health & Addictions (to name a few). Joe has a clear focus on excellence in nursing care and is passionate about educating others.


  • Gretchen Johnson DNP, MSN, RN-BC

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services is approved as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the Wisconsin Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. Approval number: 4003231

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