Pamela Marcus, RN, APRN, PMH-BC
2012 Award for Excellence in Practice - Advanced

The list of Pamela Marcus, RN, APRN, PMH-BC’s activities and achievements is long and impressive. She is a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland where she uses her undergraduate students’ clinical experience to affect the care provided to clients. She also owns a psychotherapy practice, selected as a DSM-5 field trial site, where she cares for individuals who exhibit some of the most challenging symptoms, including PTSD and personality disorders, as well as suicidal and other self-harm behaviors. She has given nearly 150 presentations and written 35 book chapters and clinical practice guidelines, created a course, and developed a suicide staging instrument.

As a professor, she teaches undergraduates in psychiatric-mental health nursing, using their clinical experiences to affect the care provided to the clients. One requirement for her students is that they lead groups on the unit. Once the nurses working on the unit observed the therapeutic effect that these groups had on the clients, they took up the practice themselves.

Marcus served as Clinical Director for the Anne Arundel County Maryland Crisis Response System from 1999 to 2003, just outside of Washington DC. In this role she was uniquely positioned in the midst of both the September 11, 2001 attacks and the DC sniper shootings. She provided direct patient care and community outreach; clinical supervision of the police-based Mobile Crisis Team, 24-hour crisis intervention telephone center, Sexual Assault Treatment Team, and Intensive Family Treatment team; and also managed an urgent care clinic. On top of all of this, she developed and taught a yearlong certification course for Mobile Crisis Team members.

Finally, Marcus is especially well known for the creation of an evidence-based suicide staging instrument. It has been featured in several psychiatric mental health nursing textbooks and in the Nursing Interventions Classification and Nursing Outcomes Classification. She utilizes the instrument in her clinical practice to help patients to put into words their own experiences and to recognize that they are not alone in their suicidal thinking. The staging system allows a nurse to assess the level of severity in order to determine level of care (if acute services are needed, for example). Clients who have used the instrument have said that the stages provide a means of articulating their experiences and that they provided hope by helping them realize that others have experienced similar thoughts. Marcus has consulted with several institutions of higher learning to educate faculty and staff on recognizing when a student is suicidal and how to intervene. She also shares her knowledge on suicide with the public through television, radio, and video presentations.

Marcus' creation of an evidence-based suicide staging instrument, her leadership during a time of crisis, her excellence as a PMH nursing undergraduate professor which inadvertantly impacted a unit's practices, her multitude of presentations and publications - all of these speak to her constant pursuit of excellence as a psychiatric-mental health nurse.