Psychiatric nurses are among the professionals who are likely to have to deal with suicidal patients as part of their day to day work. It is therefore critical to ensure that they are well equipped to handle such patients. Sometimes, a psychiatric nurse will find himself having to counsel a suicidal patient, in an effort to dissuade the patient from acting on his suicidal motivations. At other times, a psychiatric nurse may actually find himself having to physically restrain a suicidal patient from, say, jumping off the ward. So the psychiatric nurse needs to be well equipped to deal with these sorts of scenarios.

To ensure that psychiatric nurses are well placed to handle suicidal patients, we will need to:

  1. Change the training curriculum for psychiatric nurses: the emphasis should be on equipping the nurses to deal (practically) with the various situations they are likely to encounter in their work. We need a departure from the present situation where a lot of emphasis is placed on getting the student nurses to master terminologies and the theoretical aspects of nursing.
  2. Change the internship programs for psychiatric nurses: the objective here should be to ensure that the nurses get adequate exposure to psychiatric wards. This way, they can be given practical demonstrations on how to handle various types of patients – including the suicidal ones.
  3. Change the recruitment matrix for psychiatric nurses: the objective here is to ensure that the people who are recruited to work as psychiatric nurses are those who have the emotional (and, when necessary the physical) strength necessary to handle suicidal patients. We may need to change the remuneration structure for psychiatric nurses, by increasing it — so as to attract the best people. There is absolutely no reason as to why we should insist on having uniform pay for all nurses. On the contrary, nurses’ pay should reflect the responsibilities they have to deal with. Even in ordinary organizations, people don’t get uniform pay. Rather, pay tends to be pegged on responsibility. That is why, for instance, if you go through the Mypepsico payroll you are likey to discover that different cadres of staff at PepsiCo earn different sums of money. And the staff themselves, while logging in at the Mypepsico sso login page, don’t do so expecting to get uniform pay. They know that different responsibility levels call for different pay-scales.  The same should surely apply to nurses – where the likes of psychiatric nurses, who have to deal with suicidal patients (and other types of difficult patients) should be adequately compensated for the extra work they have to do.