Dr. Shonda Phelon, recent graduate of Mississippi University for Women’s Doctorate of Nursing Practice program and an instructor of nursing at The W, has been accepted to present her capstone project, “Suicide Assessment and Prevention: A Clinical Practice Guideline for Primary Care,” at two national conferences.
The National Nurse Practitioner Symposium has tapped Dr. Phelon for a poster presentation at Keystone, Colo., in July, and she will discuss her project in a podium presentation at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association at Indianapolis, Ind., in October.
She has 22 years of experience working as a family nurse practitioner and eight years as a psychiatrist nurse practitioner. As a psychiatrist nurse practitioner, she observed a disconnect between mental health care and primary health care.
Her capstone project focuses on integrating open dialogue about mental health between practitioners and patients, with the hope that patients with mental health issues will be evaluated without having to be transferred to counseling or for psychiatric treatment, if the problem can be handled by a practitioner.
“With this project, I designed a step-by-step algorithm to help practitioners feel more comfortable talking about mental health. There are so many patients who are getting primary care, but commit suicide because practitioners are unaware or don’t know how to evaluate other problems,” Phelon said. “Suicide is on the top 10 list for causes of death, but the difference is that suicide is 100 percent preventable.”
She added, “I piloted with the student health center at MUW, which has about seven practitioners, and I noticed an increase in knowledge and they were more comfortable with discussions about mental health.”
Phelon hopes her project will create a seamless transition from primary health care to mental health care and that the presentations will keep the discussion about suicide and suicide prevention alive.