Dr. Maria Danet Lapiz-Bluhm Receives Education and Research Award From The San Antonio Psychiatric Nurses Association
Dr. Maria Danet Lapiz-Bluhm received the Education and Research Award from The San Antonio Psychiatric Nurses Association in July 2021. There was a virtual ceremony to recognize her achievements.
Dr. Bluhm, graduated from our Master’s of Science in Clinical Investigation program in 2015. She is also a tenured full professor and director of international programs in the School of Nursing.
“I thank the San Antonio Psychiatric Nurses Association (SAPNA) for organizing this Impact Awards to highlight the role of nurses in mental health,” Dr. Bluhm said. “Having been a nurse-neuroscientist for over 20 years, I have had exciting experiences which impacted mental health.”
One of the very few nurse preclinical scientists, Dr. Bluhm’s research contributed to understanding stress-related biological mechanisms in mental health disorders and animal model development to test novel therapeutics for depression and anxiety. At H. Lundbeck A/S in Denmark, she was involved in the testing of preclinical effects of compounds (i.e., escitalopram, atomoxetine, and memantine). Data from the studies helped move forward indications for the drugs and understand some of the mechanisms related to depression and anxiety. At UT Health San Antonio, she developed an animal model to test cognitive flexibility, a cognitive function challenging to emulate in lab settings. The model has now been used in several labs throughout the world.
At UT Health San Antonio, she translated her preclinical work into patient-centered research to help understand the underlying mechanisms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She was funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars Program which allowed her to conduct research among active-duty military personnel who return from deployment with PTSD, affiliated with STRONG STAR (South Texas Research on Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience). STRONG STAR is a multidisciplinary multi-institutional research consortium of PTSD experts funded by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to develop and evaluate the most effective early interventions possible for combat-related PTSD. Her works were presented locally, nationally and internationally and published in international peer-reviewed journals. She has been invited keynote and plenary speakers in various international conferences. She co-published the book, Neurobiology of Stress-Related Disorder.
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-funded grants allowed her to impact community health. To engage and give voice to veterans in six U.S. States, she was the State Collaborative Academic Research Member of Texas for the project, Veterans Action League. The project aimed to provide voice and engage Veterans in research, especially PTSD. She subsequently served as a National Advisory Board Member of another PCORI-funded project, Operation PCOR, to educate and engage veterans as active research partners. The product of the project is now available to provide educational background for veterans regarding research participation. At the academic end, Dr. Bluhm developed the program, PrICE for Vets: Promoting Interprofessional Collaborative Education for Veterans, designed to provide health professions students with interprofessional training to improve healthcare quality and outcomes among veterans. Dr. Bluhm currently received funding from Sigma/Jonas Philanthropies to test a program that will help incorporate daily mindfulness activity among veterans.
She is currently funded to build capacity and engage Filipino Americans in five U.S. States to improve patient outcomes, including mental health. She recently received notice to expand the capacity-building and engagement of Filipino Americans to 15 more states, a total of 20. For highlights of her work with Filipino Americans, please see www.filamhealth.org.
Dr. Bluhm considers her greatest accomplishment to be her mentees’ (high school to doctoral level) engagement in mental health research. Their work ranged from educating vulnerable populations and evaluating non-pharmacological approaches for stress and posttraumatic symptoms to developing collaborative management for veterans with PTSD and co-morbid substance use disorder. Her research mentorship paves the way for the next generation of nurses and other clinical scientists who can help improve mental health outcomes or even prevent mental health disorders. For her impact in education, research and policy, Dr. Bluhm was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2019.
The San Antonio Psychiatric Nurses Association was funded in the year 2018 with 24 active members. Today, the organization has over 80 active psychiatric nurses from different psychiatric specialties and institutions all over the San Antonio area.
This year, the board of officers wanted to raise awareness of the contributions of the psychiatric nurses to clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research, and community service.
The first SAPNA Impact Awards, was held to recognize and celebrate the significant work and contributions of psychiatric nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judges for the award winners include:
Paul Buckle – Director of Nursing, Inpatient Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, University Health
Maria Ostrander – Chief Nursing Officer, Psychiatry and Behavioral Services, San Antonio State Hospital
Kimberly Vollmer – Chief Nursing Officer for Mental Health, Audie L. Murphy VA
Braden Butterfield – Chief Nursing Officer, San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital
Carol Carver – Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Clarity Child Guidance Center
Mari Fraire – Director of Nursing, The Center for HealthCare Services
Billy Mahone III – Director of Community Engagement, South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless (SARAH)
Sarah Schultz – Director of Nursing, Psychiatry and Behavioral Unit, Laurel Ridge Treatment Center
During the course of the event, the SAPNA received almost 60 nominations submissions, 58 of them are complete nominations for 38 nominees. The organization provided short snippets of the narrative provided by their nominator for each nominee. As for transparency the judges scores were shown alongside nominee’s profiles and accomplishments. The judges judged all the winners by blind judging through their profiles and the nominees names and institution where they work were black out for equality and fairness.
The award winners were:
Leadership and Management: Dr. Cynthia Linkes (UT Health)
Community Service: Dr. Marta Vives (UT Health), Jeanette Jimenez, RN (University Health)
Education and Research: Dr. Danet Lapiz- Bluhm (UT Health), Leticia Flore-Canchola, RN (University Health)
Clinical Practice: Jan Lester Langusta, RN (Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital)
Special Award winners were:
Rising Star of the Year: Chester John Sadsad, RN (University Health)
Scholar of the Year: Michael Monceaux, RN (Clarity Child Guidance Center)
H.P. Impact Nurse of the Year: Tamara Marquez De La Plata, RN (Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital)