2020 Recipient Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN
Suzie Marriott, MS, BSN, RN-BC
“Suzie is always ready to answer the call to provide her expertise in times of crisis,” says Kristen Kichefski, who nominated Suzie Marriott, MS, BSN, RN-BC for the APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN. “For nearly two decades, she has contributed to the improvement of organizational performance in psychiatric-mental health care on the local, state, national, and international levels.” Suzie’s leadership is seen throughout multiple areas and the continuum of care, as she advocates for psychiatric-mental health nurses and ensures that her colleagues have the resources they need.
Suzie is a dedicated champion for the crucial role of psychiatric-mental health nurses. As the Associate Director of Nursing and Behavioral Health at Stony Brook University Hospital, she focuses on the relationship between nurse and patient, providing resources and education to empower those she works with to fully participate in the partnership of care. “As nurses, we are given lots of tasks to do that take us away from patients,” she says. “But [care] is about the relationship: still finding to the time to connect with each patient.”
“We need to be proud to be nurses. We have an important role – advocating for patients – and we mustn’t lose sight of that. “
Suzie has given numerous lectures on topics relevant to psychiatric-mental health nursing, including safe environments, forensic nursing, community care, and trauma-informed care. Through her work on the APNA Administrative Council, she has helped compile resources to support other psychiatric-mental health nursing leaders as they navigate organizational and regulatory requirements.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, “Suzie not only worked to contain transmission [of COVID-19] in her hospital units, but also provided leadership and crisis support throughout her facility to staff on the medical floors impacted by the care of critically ill patients,” says Kichefski. Suzie also reached out to psychiatric-mental health nurses around the country, says McManus, to participate in “networking discussions to support education and stress management resources for nurses during this crisis.”
Suzie is also a passionate leader for suicide prevention education, which began when she recognized her own discomfort early in her career. “As a new nurse, I felt very ill-equipped to work with patients at risk of suicide,” she says. “It was actually the patients who taught me how to be better. It is really important that we invest time in nurses so that we are comfortable with the skills and able to connect with patients.” To help her fellow nurses gain confidence in assessing and managing suicide risk, Suzie has implemented the ASIST/safeTALK program within the hospital. “Suzie’s passion for awareness and education in suicide prevention is evident through her career in the UK and the US,” says Kichefski. “She was quick to volunteer her time to facilitate [training] for several APNA New York Chapter educational events,” says her colleague Marybeth McManus. “She is known for her pragmatic, visionary practice.”
In all her leadership initiatives, Suzie celebrates the joy and honor of psychiatric-mental health nursing and encourages her colleagues to do the same. “I think we need to be proud to be nurses,” she says. “We have a very important role – advocating for patients – and we mustn’t lose sight of that…[The most rewarding aspect is] when I see positive interactions between patients who are very distressed and nursing staff who are able to make the patient feel better.”