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Happy Nurses Week! Meet Donna Leckey, Psychiatric Nurse and Author

Donna LeckeyDonna Leckey, RN has nearly two decades of experience as a psychiatric nurse. In her interview, she describes her “special passion” for working with psychiatric patients. She also discusses her published article “Ten Strategies to Extinguish Potentially Explosive Behavior,” and her current work as a nurse and a researcher.

  1. Explain your work experience that prepared you to write this article.
    I would credit my many years as a psychiatric nurse as providing me with a solid foundation to write this article.  Since 1999, I have been a psychiatric nurse working at a state psychiatric hospital.  In addition, I have been a member of the Disaster Crisis Outreach and Referral Team (DCORT) since 2012.  I have a special passion for working with psychiatric patients.  They have special needs and often lack a strong support system, except for that provided by staff and community mental health agencies.
  1. What was the driving force that pushed you to write this article?
    The primary driving force that encouraged me to write “Ten Strategies to Extinguish Potentially Explosive Behavior” was the fact that I sincerely believed the ideas I had to offer would greatly benefit many people who work in the healthcare field.  The article was written with the intent to provide healthcare workers with simple strategies they could use within their practices to keep themselves safe.  I came up with the idea for my article after taking the Response Training Instructor class and after reflecting on my past experience as a critical care nurse and EMT-Paramedic.  This class made me realize that many of the safety strategies taught in this course could be utilized by healthcare personnel in various healthcare settings.  While working in pre-hospital care as an EMT-Paramedic at Citizen’s Ambulance Service as well as working as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Units at both Clearfield Hospital and Lee Hospital, I cared for agitated and combative patients.  I encountered situations where I had to intervene and de-escalate agitated family members despite not having any type of formalized training.
  1. What was your initial reaction when you received the letter that said you would be published? Reaction when you saw the article in print?
    It was a sense of pride that I was able to accomplish this achievement.  However, along with the pride came a sense of humility because I felt very humbled and honored to have my article chosen to go into print.
  1. What advice would you give to another nurse who is thinking about writing to be published?
    My advice to any nurse who might be considering writing an article for publication would be to wholeheartedly put forth the effort to do so if he or she sincerely believes that the information they have to offer would benefit readers.  Writing for publication is a very stringent and vigorous process.  There are many guidelines authors must adhere to when submitting an article for publication.  Nevertheless, despite all the obstacles authors encounter, the ultimate product, a published article, makes it all worthwhile.
  1. Do you use the advice you shared in the article in your current work?
    Currently, I am a Nurse Instructor at a state psychiatric hospital.  Although I am no longer in direct patient care, I am still in contact with patients on a daily basis, and therefore, I find myself using many of the strategies I discussed in the article.  Ensuring personal safety remains an utmost priority as well as assessing the area for dangerous items.  These are two key strategies I use to protect my safety.
  1. Are you considering publishing again?
    I am considering publishing again.  For my scholarly project which was part of my doctoral program at Carlow University, I conducted a research study on “Therapeutic Non-pharmacological Interventions and PRN Psychotropic Medication Administration Practices of Mental Health RNs.”  The focus of this research study was to determine if RNs are using non-pharmacological interventions to manage patients with symptoms of agitation or anxiety and if they are, to determine what non-pharmacological interventions are used prior to or in lieu of patients receiving PRN psychotropic medications.


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