Rutgers-Camden Student Nurses are Learning to Spot Suicide Risks

Whether it’s in the emergency room or throughout the hospital, nurses are always at the forefront of meeting and talking with patients. Now, a new simulation suite at Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden could potentially save patient lives.

The new simulation, which uses trained actors, aims to help student nurses work with patients and identify those who might be at risk for suicide. The student nurses evaluate the actors’ verbal and non-verbal behavior to determine if they’re at risk for taking their own life and offer treatment. Later, the instructors and students review the taped sessions together.

“The standardized patients are an opportunity for students to practice not only the suicide assessment but how to therapeutically communicate with patients and be comfortable being present with them,” says Mary Wunnenberg, an assistant clinical professor at Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden. “We really try to focus on what the students did right and touch on ways that they can improve.”

“You’re going to be dealing with psych issues in nursing,” says student Rachel Haber of Medford. “So I think it is important to know how to directly ask questions like, ‘Are you feeling suicidal? Do you have a plan?’ Knowing what to say, how to say it, how to approach people who are suicidal is super, super, valuable.”



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