By Erica Techo
Professor and Chair of the Department of Family, Community and Health Systems Teena McGuinness, PhD, CRNP, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, is retiring from the UAB School of Nursing after 12 years. Her leadership and passion for mental health care leaves a lasting impact on the School, its faculty, students and the communities served by UAB graduates.
“Teena McGuinness has served at the UAB School of Nursing with tireless commitment to our vision and mission,” said Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Her efforts have led to the implementation of numerous initiatives, grants and programs which help meet a critical need for primary mental health providers, and allowed us to better serve Veterans and other vulnerable populations. We have been so fortunate to count her as one of our School’s leaders.”
McGuinness joined the School as a professor in 2007, serving as the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Specialty Track Coordinator from 2008-2011, Honors in Nursing coordinator from 2009-2011, and Family, Community and Health Systems Department Chair since 2013. She also led the development and expansion of the School’s PMHNP Specialty at the graduate level.
“Starting the PMHNP program and watching it grow has been such a delight,” said McGuinness. “I firmly believe that psychiatric treatment works, if you can access it. A shortage of care providers and lack of access to care, however, impede vulnerable and underserved populations from obtaining psychiatric and behavioral health care. Through this program, we are meeting the need for a well-educated primary mental health workforce in the state and the country, and working to eliminate barriers to care.”
Since its establishment in 2008, the PMHNP Specialty has grown from an initial cohort of three students to 70 students in Fall 2019. The program’s success also supported the establishment of a Veteran’s Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership in Graduate Education (VANAP-GE) in mental health. The residency was the first of its kind in the country, and has focused on creating a sustainable pipeline of PMHNPs with Veteran-centered training.
In addition to her role as a faculty member, McGuinness has maintained a robust clinical practice at UAB’s 1917 Clinic and helped establish the PMHNP Resident After Hours Clinic at the Birmingham VA Medical Center. She also worked to establish partnerships with Children’s of Alabama, UAB Medicine and the Birmingham VA Medical Center to create a sustainable pipeline of care providers.
Her commitment to supporting Veterans also extended to a generous gift benefiting the School’s building expansion. McGuinness and her husband, retired Army Col. John McGuinness, MD, named the McGuinness Veterans Conference Room, a collaborative study and meeting space that gives preference to Veteran students.
“I wanted this room to highlight Veterans and show that we understand and appreciate their sacrifices to protect our freedom,” McGuinness said. “It’s powerful to see all of the Veterans we have among UAB SON faculty, staff and students, and to see how many there are on UAB’s campus. I’m proud that my work could be a part of helping Veterans, and I am pleased that this conference room continues to serve as a resource for them.”
McGuinness’ efforts as a mentor, educator and leader have been recognized by multiple institutions, and she received the 2019 American Psychiatric Nurses Association Award for Excellence in Education, the 2017 Old Dominion University School of Nursing 50th Anniversary Educator Award, and the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012.
“I’m just thankful I was invited to join the team at UAB School of Nursing,” she said. “There are so many opportunities available through this School and its partnerships. There are even opportunities here that you cannot plan for — the support of Dean Harper and other faculty allows for an unfolding experience, where every day opportunities open to new opportunities.”