The Experience of Student Nurses While Caring for Patients at Risk for Suicide
Miller, Jennifer Lynne
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Suicide is a major public health problem worldwide. Evidence suggests that healthcare providers do not consistently screen, assess, and manage individuals at risk for suicide. In order for suicide prevention efforts to be efficacious, healthcare providers must understand suicide risk and protective factors, utilize multifaceted approaches to suicide screening and be comfortable with suicide screening, assessment and risk management. Due to the multiple settings in which they encounter and care for patients, nurses are presented with unique opportunities to screen and intervene with patients at risk for suicide. Higher education institutions can better prepare nurses for these opportunities by emphasizing suicide screening, assessment and risk management in their education programs. The aim of this research project was to generate a composite description of the textural and structural experiences of student nurses while caring for patients at risk for suicide, using transcendental phenomenology. Fourteen Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) students and alumni with clinical experience caring for patients at risk for suicide were recruited from two Universities in Eastern Washington State. Each student was interviewed once. Transcribed interview texts were analyzed using Moustakas’ phenomenological methods. Six themes were identified: Integrating Theory and Practice, Navigating the RN Role, Relating to Understand the “Why", Judging vs. Empathizing, Managing Stress and Emotion, and Expecting the Unexpected. A composite of the textural and structural experiences was then developed. These findings have implications for nursing education, practice, nursing research as well as healthcare policy, and ultimately can result in more favorable patient health outcomes.