Graduate Publications and Other Selected Works - Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

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Background: Given the rise in the mental health crisis, there is an increase of non-psychiatric nurses caring for pediatric mental health patients. This crisis leads nurses to experience feelings of doubt, hopelessness, stress, and insecurities in caring for this population. These feelings, combined with a lack of support and training, create a powerlessness loop of care. Local problem: In a Pediatric ICU, there is a lack of training and resources available to the nurses caring for pediatric mental health patients. Despite the lack of training, 35% of total admissions in 2020 were pediatric patients experiencing an acute mental health crisis. This patient population has been continually identified as an area of significant burnout, identified need, and frustration. Methods: Educational modules were assigned and included training on behavioral health communication, crisis management skills, therapeutic communication, assessment skills, mental health diagnoses, and psychotropic medications. A modified Behavioral Health Care Competency Tool was used to measure nurses’ confidence and knowledge at three timepoints. Results: There was a statistically significant improvement in nurses’ confidence and knowledge caring for mental health patients from pre- to post-intervention (M = 0.87, 95% CI [0.57, 1.160], p < .001) and pre-intervention to one-month post-intervention (M = 1.11, 95% CI [0.71, 1.51], p < .00). Conclusions: Providing educational training to nurses aids in increasing their confidence and knowledge in caring for mental health patients in non-psychiatric settings. Despite increases in confidence and knowledge, future implications include the need for pediatric-focused education, resources, and practice.

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