MEDIA RELEASE: WSNA leads effort to address staffing crisis at Western State Hospital by using Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners in clinical roles

Nursing’s role in solving the state’s mental health crisis will be the top issue at the Washington State Nurses Association’s Nurse Legisla­tive Day on Monday, Feb. 1. With 700 atten­dees, WSNA hosts the largest lobby day in Olympia. 

In his keynote address, Governor Inslee is expected to discuss nursing’s role in helping solve the mental health crisis.

We want to make sure that we utilize all of the ways that psychi­atric nurse practi­tioners can help meet the clinical needs of our patients at Western State Hospital,” Governor Inslee said.

WSNA, working in partner­ship with the Associ­a­tion of Advanced Practice Psychi­atric Nurses, is gaining bipar­tisan support for its plan to improve access to clinical treat­ment at Western State Hospital by utilizing Psychi­atric Nurse Practi­tioners to their full scope of practice.

This is another issue on which WSNA has been a leader,” said Jan Bussert, RN, presi­dent of WSNA. Washington state is facing a mental health care crisis – one that affects nurses and their patients in all settings. Yes, we see it in hospital emergency rooms, but we also experi­ence the lack of mental health services in our public health clinics. And, we see it when we have nowhere to send a patient who needs mental health or behav­ioral health services.”

WSNA is working with both Governor Inslee and Sen. Andy Hill, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, to create oppor­tu­ni­ties for Psychi­atric Nurse Practi­tioners to work in clinical roles and help solve the staffing crisis at Western State.

Providing effec­tive health care and mental health treat­ment are critical respon­si­bil­i­ties of state govern­ment,” said Sen. Andy Hill, of Redmond, who serves as the chief budget writer in the Senate. Problems at Western State Hospital demon­strate the impor­tance of all lawmakers under­standing the key role Washing­ton’s advanced regis­tered nurse practi­tioners can play in ensuring access to high-quality treat­ment for our most vulner­able citizens.”

The Associ­a­tion of Advanced Practice Psychi­atric Nurses will also address this issue at Nurse Legisla­tive Day as part of the panel What’s at stake in 2016: Legisla­tive Priorities.”

In this ever-changing mental health­care environ­ment neces­si­tating more care providers, Psychi­atric Nurse Practi­tioners believe that the current exclu­sionary policy to our working at Western and Eastern State Hospi­tals is detri­mental to the local commu­ni­ties and the state of Washington,” said Anne Koomen, MS, PMHNP, ARNP, presi­dent of the Associ­a­tion of Advanced Practice Psychi­atric Nurses. We advocate for an inclu­sive solution that removes the barriers that impede our ability to practice at both Western and Eastern State Hospitals.”

Washington currently licenses 570 Psychiatric/​Mental Health Nurse Practi­tioners, regis­tered nurses with graduate degrees and the training to assess and diagnose mental health issues, and provide treat­ment by means of pharma­cother­a­peutic and psychother­a­peutic inter­ven­tions. Licensed Psychi­atric Nurse Practi­tioners are well prepared and willing to step up and help solve the staffing problem at Western State.


Ruth Schubert, Commu­ni­ca­tions, WSNA, (206) 713‑7884,

Jennifer McCaus­land, Legisla­tive Director, WSNA, (206) 972‑8555,

David Guidry, Legisla­tive Director, AAPPN, (206) 953‑9479


Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion is the leading voice and advocate for nurses in Washington state, repre­senting more than 17,000 regis­tered nurses statewide. Facebook/​myWSNA @myWSNA.