UK College of Nursing’s Evelyn Parrish named the 2021 Psychiatric Nurse of the Year

Posted: July 22, 2021

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) has named the University of Kentucky College of Nursing’s Evelyn Parrish,PhD, APRN, PMNPH-BC, FAANP as the 2021 Psychiatric Nurse of the Year for her standout clinical leadership and providing exceptional mental health patient service and care. 

Dr. Parrish will officially receive this distinguished honor at the APNA’s 35th Annual l Conference, to be held in Louisville, Ky. October 13-16, 2021, and virtually Dec. 10-12, 2021.

“I am unbelievably humbled and honored to receive this recognition from the APNA,” said Parrish.  “I am passionate about helping others, providing quality care and lessening the negative stigma surrounding mental health treatment. I believe that through increased access to mental health education and treatment in underserved populations, that we can help reduce the stigma and improve overall health and wellness in our communities.”

Dr. Parrish is an associate professor and the assistant dean of accreditation and strategic outcomes for UK’s College of Nursing.  She also practices as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and serves as medical director for the Access Wellness Group in Lexington, Ky.  Dr. Parrish received her BSN from Eastern Kentucky University, her MSN and PhD from the University of Kentucky, and her post-master’s certificate as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Family from Rush University. Her dissertation focus was on the clinical outcomes of care provided by psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. She has been a nurse for more than 25 years, and a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner for the past 19 years, specializing in mood disorders, anxiety, and co-morbid psychiatric-medical conditions. 

“Dr. Parrish has been integral to our College in so many ways – from serving as the Diversity & Inclusion Chair to leading our College through a successful accreditation process, all while also teaching and practicing as an APRN at the same time,” said Janie Heath, Dean and Warwick Professor of Nursing at UK’s College of Nursing.  “Dr. Parrish is not only a standout nurse; she is a standout person, and well-deserving of this award that recognizes her efforts to improve policy, expand educational opportunities and improve access to mental health treatment. Congratulations Dr. Parrish and thank you to the APNA for honoring such an outstanding psychiatric mental health nurse and leader.”  

Seven other nurses from across the nation will also be awarded for their outstanding accomplishments and efforts in the field of psychiatric mental health and wellness at the APNA Annual Awards showcase.  These nurses include:

  • Carol Essenmacher, DNP, NCTTP, National Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, Indiana University School of Nursing, will receive the Award for Distinguished Service.
  • Michael Terry, DNP, FNP, PMHNP, Clinical Professor University of San Diego, will receive the Award for Excellence in Education.
  • Barbara (Bambi) Carkey, DNP, PMHNP-BC, NPP, Adjunct Instructor, College of Nursing, Upstate Medical University, will receive the Award for Excellence in Leadership – APRN.
  • Stephanie Verdeflor, MSN, RN-BC, Nurse Clinician, New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center, will receive the Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN.
  • Donna Gaffney, BSN, MA, MS, DNSc, PMHCNS-BC, Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse and Psychotherapist, will receive the Award for Excellence in Practice – APRN.
  • Asneth Thomas-Rowe, BSN, RN, Nurse Manager, Bruce W. Carter Veterans Healthcare Administration, will receive the Award for Excellence in Practice – RN.
  • Ursula Kelly, PhD, APRN, ANP-BC, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, Associate Professor, Emory University, will receive the Award for Excellence in Research. 


​“The APNA Annual Awards showcase the accomplishments of nurses whose work improves the lives of individuals, their families, and communities,” says APNA President Matthew Tierney, MS, CNS, ANP, PMHNP, FAAN, "I am thrilled to celebrate these outstanding nurses at the upcoming APNA Annual Conference. Each of this year’s recipients personify our conference theme, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses: Revolutionizing Access to Person-Centered Care."

About the APNA

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is a national professional membership organization committed to the practice of psychiatric-mental health nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders. APNA’s membership is inclusive of all psychiatric-mental health registered nurses including associate degree, baccalaureate, advanced practice (comprised of clinical nurse specialists and psychiatric nurse practitioners), and nurse scientists and academicians (PhD). APNA serves as a resource for psychiatric-mental health nurses to engage in networking, education, and the dissemination of research.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.