Mental Health Nursing Instructor Focuses on Communication

Marti Rickel, RN, MSN, BC (Board Certified)
Nursing Instructor

As a psychiatric nurse and nursing instructor at North, Marti Rickel enjoys dealing with emotions and helping students become more at ease with mental health issues, exposing them to a different kind of nursing that relies more on listening, talking and sharing.

What have you enjoyed about work in nursing?

My first job was in a nursing home for three years as a teenager. I was too young to take care of patients, but I was the “go for” for the director. I was exposed to nurses and caring for the elderly and found that was something I really liked.

In nursing school, my two favorite areas were mental health and labor delivery. Noticing that, in my family, there were people with mental health issues, I wanted to understand more what that was all about.

As a nurse, I like to listen to others and talk to them. Rather than having to rush through, dealing only with the body, I enjoy dealing with emotions, thoughts and feelings.

I typically find that nursing students, like many of the public, are scared of the mentally ill. Students need to realize that sometime in their lives, they are going to have some kind of contact with mental health issues. I help them be more at ease with mental illness.

Students think most of nursing is hands-on care, IVs, injections. I am glad to expose them to another area of nursing, involving a lot of listening, talking and sharing — different skills from what they are expecting. It’s exciting to find students who want to be mental health nurses, and there are sometimes recruits to my area, but I am on a mission to get rid of the horror-story orientation to the psychiatric clinical experience and the negativity surrounding psychiatric care. No matter where you work as a nurse, you will come across patients with mental illness. It benefits you to have skills in working with those patients.

What attracts you to the program at North?

Good leadership, strong organization, striving for excellence. The students are very receptive.

What would you like to say about your philosophy of teaching…about your style?

My philosophy of teaching is based on a mental health theory — Modeling and Role Modeling — encouraging a nurse to try to step into the client’s shoes. I try to do the same thing with my students, stepping into their shoes to see how they view the world.

I love teaching and look forward to getting to know my students. I am very laid back in class — down to earth — and use a lot of humor in the classroom.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with prospective students about this career?

People in society overall are more receptive to talking about mental illness than they were 20 years ago. But we still have a long way to go in terms in mental healthcare. There isn’t parity yet with physical healthcare, and mental health issues need to be discussed more.


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