Building Mental Health Foundations (With Jayison Mccorkle)

Local RN Jayison Mccorkle is currently enrolled in UNLV Nursing's Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program. He shares how these courses are shaping his future as a mental health nurse; how he's able to empathize with his patients; and how he's adjusting to graduate school as a UNLV Nursing alumnus. Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital: UNLV Nursing website:

Joe Gaccione 0:00
Welcome to Vital Views, podcast for UNLV School of Nursing. I'm Joe Gaccione, communications director for the School of Nursing. There is a need, not just for more nurses, but mental health experts as well, and UNLV Nursing offers a way to combine the two specialties in its psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. This is a graduate level program that focuses not only on general nurse practice theories and skillsets, but areas like pharmacology, psychopharmacology, effective mental health diagnoses, treatment plans, and consistent care. Joining us to talk about the Psych NP program is Jayison Mccorkle. He started his grad courses this semester, fall 2022. He previously earned his bachelors from UNLV Nursing in summer 2021, and currently works at Desert Parkway Behavioral Hospital. Jayison, thanks for coming in.

Jayison Mccorkle 0:50
Thank you for having me. I'm very excited about this interview.

Joe Gaccione 0:53
So, what motivated you to not only go back to school, but focus on the psych mental health side?

Jayison Mccorkle 0:58
So, the psych subject was a surprise for me. I always knew I wanted to do nursing since I was in high school. My dad is a, is a nurse. He worked in the ER, he's a nurse practitioner now in the ER, still. And so, I knew I wanted to do nursing. Once I went into nursing and nursing school, I did my clinicals in the bedside setting in the icu. Not too much my speed, something that I could do, I could accomplish the task, but something that I, I didn't feel the passion, something that I could do long term, and once I did my site clinical rotation, it gave me an opportunity to, you know, put myself in a field where I wasn't used to. And what I found out is that a lot of the patients were similar to myself, similar to my family members and my friends, and it was a connection right off the top. And so, after that day, I knew that I wanted to do psych nursing and once I entered that field, I knew I wanted to just go all the way and take the highest level of education that I could. And so, now I'm here in the grad program.

Joe Gaccione 1:56
What's your role at Desert Parkway? Can you talk about that?

Jayison Mccorkle 1:59
Yeah, for sure. So, I haven't even been a nurse for a year yet, I'm still a new grad, but I did start off as a floor nurse, a med nurse, just passing medications to patients, establishing a rapport with them, and then I was able to get in the charge nurse position early. And so after that then, that gave me a higher role to establish more rapport with the patients, be in charge of any emergency medications that may be needed, handle any phone calls between the doctors, take in the patients and admit them through the process, and that's where I'm at currently.

Joe Gaccione 2:34
Being a nurse, you have to have a level of compassion, a high level of compassion, and be able to connect with patients, like any healthcare professional, but what makes it different for a psych nurse? What intangibles do you feel like you need to have a little bit more to really make an impact on those types, on those patients?

Jayison Mccorkle 2:52
Yeah. The, the great thing about psych is that it's, it's so individual, you know? You can read something in the book, but every person has a different way of saying something. Everybody has different intent when they say something and what they mean. And so, it's different between every nurse, every physician, and then every patient. And so, you're able to really use what you grew up on or, you know, your natural feelings and emotions with somebody, and that's something that I really enjoy is that you can be creative with it, you know? You're, you're learning as well. I know a lot of time in my position, I'm learning with the patient. I'm learning, “Okay, if I use this tone of voice and I try to empathize, then okay, this worked or this didn't work,” you know? And it allows me, like I said, to work on myself.

Joe Gaccione 3:38
Do you think there's a mental health stigma out there?

Jayison Mccorkle 3:41
A hundred percent. A hundred percent. Of course. I think, you know, stigmas and, and stereotypes do exist for a reason, but obviously it's not the whole truth and entirely the truth. And, and most of the time that I've experienced is that once you get to know these patients, like I said earlier, you'll realize that they have a lot of quality similar to you, similar to people that you know and you may come across, it just may function at different levels. You know, people may experience depression or anxiety at a severe level as opposed to you. You know, everybody deals with, with stresses and things that we worry about, and that's something that I've learned. Once I am able to, you know, see what the patient is going through, aside from any erratic behavior or any, you know, any crying or endorsing any suicide or, or homicidal, once I go a level deeper, it's something that I could understand and I, I can relate to.

Joe Gaccione 4:34
It almost feels like being a psych nurse, you, you might have more of an insight because you could probably relate more. It's not like if someone comes in, if a patient comes in and has a broken bone or some deadly disease. You're caring for them, but you also know, “Okay, not everyone's gonna be like that.” But when it comes to psych, when it comes to mental health, it seems a lot more relatable because any one of us could be dealing with these, these issues at any given moment and the patient might just have an escalated version, but it feels like you can have more empathy because you realize, “That could be me. That could be me going through these, these struggles.” Again, you could also feel that way about other patients with other maladies and illnesses, but I feel like psych is just, there's more of a connection there.

Jayison Mccorkle 5:22
For sure, for sure. There's been times where I've sat down with a patient admitting them and I'm like, “Man, this is the same,” like, I felt like this patient before. I have the same circumstances, the same stresses with, with family or work or trying to, you know, find myself and, and here you are sitting across from me. And then that's where the real magic happens, when I can let the patient know, “I understand where you're coming from,” and I can just listen and they can see me listening, and that's where great relationships come from with me and my patients when I can just listen to them and they can just say whatever they feel because a lot of the time, nobody listens to these patients, and that's why, you know, they end up in a place like that because they feel isolated. They feel that nobody cares about them. I'll be that listening ear, and that's something that I took with me in my personal life. Okay, so I can be a good listener with my friends and family and develop a stronger relationship with them.

Joe Gaccione 6:17
And they're seeking help, that's the other big thing, is that they made the first step or someone reached out on their behalf and said, “I think, I think this person needs some extra care, extra attention.” At Desert Parkway, depending on the range of patients you have, do you accept anyone? Like are there, are there mild cases where you say, “If you just need someone to talk to, we'll help you out?” Like it's not just for extreme, quote unquote “extreme” cases, correct?

Jayison Mccorkle 6:39
Right, right. Yeah. So we do have an outpatient center as well. So, if they don't meet the criteria, because it's an acute hospital for very severe situations, and if they don't meet criteria, they'll be referred to an outpatient center. There's also a detox facility as well. If they don't meet criteria for that, then we may see if we can send them elsewhere that more so is adequate to their care.

Joe Gaccione 7:00
Coming out of undergrad and now you're in grad school, has there been a major adjustment since you're still kind of fresh, so to speak?

Jayison Mccorkle 7:08
Yeah, for sure. There's, oh man, there's been a huge adjustment because I'm, I'm coming from school, I'm coming from, from high school straight to college and straight into the workforce, and the workforce is entirely different than school. You know, in school, it’s a lot more structured. You have your work in front of you, you have the questions, you have your deadlines, you have all this, and then when you enter the workforce, you know, it's kind of just you, and you have to, you know, be creative and, and use critical thinking on, on how you can handle situations because most of the time, there is no book, there is no information that can tell you how to handle situations. Um, so what I learned is it's a lot of trial and error with it. It's a lot of trial and error. It was definitely a growing process. It was definitely a, a tough adjustment for me as well, being so new to it, but I did think it, it prepared me, you know, for the field, and that's the reality of it.

Joe Gaccione 7:59
Do you bounce stuff off your dad, since he's an NP? Do you say, “Hey, what do you think about this, what they're asking me here?” Like, “How would you deal with this?” Like, does it help to have that resource, that reference?

Jayison Mccorkle 8:10
Yeah. Since he is an ER NP, there's not too much that he could tell me because he, you know, he's more, more bedside oriented. But since he is in the ER, he deals with a lot of similar populations as I do, referring to homeless. And so, there are a lot of things that we could relate as far as patients and, you know, behaviors and, and of course emergency medications if need be. So yeah, he, he has been a support, he's been a support the whole way. You know, he's the, he's the main one who, who's inspired me to be a nurse, kinda drilled it in my head all through high school, and I was able to find my passion in life through that, through him.

Joe Gaccione 8:47
Seeing the spectrum of different psych mental health illnesses or, or cases, I imagine like any nurse, any healthcare provider, it might take a toll on you. You might be like, “Wow, this is, this is, this is affecting me now mentally.” We talked before about like, being relatable. How do you unwind? How do you decompress?

Jayison Mccorkle 9:04
A hundred percent. I actually just had this conversation with multiple family members because I'll tell them, you know, the things that happen at work and obviously it's stuff that most people would never see in a lifetime and it is difficult. For me, I feel like because I'm so new, I don't really know how to process it. So, what I do make sure I do is I'm, I'm aware of what I see. I make sure I talk to friends and family about it, so I don't internalize it, and then I'll just take care of myself, and my, my schedule is meditating, stretching, and I like to go out on walks, you know, and just have time for myself. Laugh, I watch a, you know, some comedy things, and I think that's as much as I can do right now, because, you know, I, there's, there's no way I can know how dealing with my trauma and, you know, very severe trauma in my patients, you know, could affect me long term, but I have found that, you know, just prioritize on, on working on myself and, and making sure right now that I'm okay.

Joe Gaccione 10:04
Because if you can't improve or maintain your own mental health, how can you help others?

Jayison Mccorkle 10:09
How can I help others? There you go.

Joe Gaccione 10:10
You earned your bachelor's at a very unique time, summer 2021. That means you and your cohort started in summer 2020 during the height of COVID and I believe, summer 2020, that was the first hybrid model that we had at UNLV Nursing where you had to front load all your lecture classes and then have the simulation courses on like, on the back end. Is that correct?

Jayison Mccorkle 10:32
Yeah. So, we were actually kind of the part two, because right, right when it first started, there was a cohort above me, which was, you know, they, they, they took the, the tough end of the stick because, you know.

Joe Gaccione 10:43
The last half of that, their semester was, was shot.

Jayison Mccorkle 10:45
Yeah, yeah. And, and nobody could have prepared for it. So at least with mine, there was some more additional adjustments made for my cohort. But yeah, no doubt, it was definitely an adjustment. I entered nursing expecting to be hands-on as much as possible. I know there are a lot of clinical hours and, you know, the, with COVID situation, a lot of it was virtual and then the back end we were able to, to get in some clinicals, but it was an adjustment. But I, but I honestly think as far as the COVID situation being more online school-based, I honestly think that's where school is headed in general. I think most curriculums and most programs are gonna start transitioning to online. Just because that's just, I think, the way the future is headed. So, in that way, it actually prepared me for grad school. You know, it allowed me to know that I can't be at home, I have to go to the library and study because I'm too chillaxed, I'm too chill at home, I got all my toys around me. So, it did prepare me on time management knowing what situations I need to be in to be comfortable to, you know, succeed in school. So, it was difficult, but like I said, I, I think it did, in the long run, benefit me.

Joe Gaccione 11:51
And all of UNLV Nursing's graduate programs are online anyways, so it's almost seamless to say, “Oh, I've been here, done that.” What are you most excited about? I know you just started in the psych NP program, but what are you looking forward to the most from here?

Jayison Mccorkle 12:04
Man, a lot. I've been having a lot of ideas that I've been trying to brainstorm. Just a couple weeks ago I went to a, a metaverse presentation here at UNLV. And so, kind of where my focus is now is obviously grad school, but in the back of my mind, I'm making sure I'm keeping my mind open to, you know, other avenues on how I can expand mental health, you know? It's something that I'm really passionate about, something that I put a lot of time and energy into, and I'm just trying to, to create a new wave of mental health. So once I finish grad school, I'll plan to get my doctorate degree, try to maximize my education as much as possible, and then open up my own practice. And then from there, that's where I mentioned potential new technologies like the Metaverse or virtual reality, and try to dive into that field and see how, you know, we can keep things progressing, mental health-wise.

Joe Gaccione 12:58
When we talk about the way we talk about promoting mental health awareness, is it just as easy as just talking about it to people? Because I feel like that's, that's part of that stigma, is keeping it to yourself and not admitting that you need help.

Jayison Mccorkle 13:10
Yeah, for sure. Something additional that I learned from my patients is it allowed me an opportunity to be open because I have people in extremely vulnerable situations where they've hit rock bottom and so, they're almost, hands are tied, where they have to tell you, you know, what's going on, whether they feel suicidal, homicidal, hearing voices, or seeing things, or if they're going through withdrawal symptoms for any drug-related issues. I see them at their most vulnerable, and I, I, I see strength in that. I see there's a lot of strength in, in being open about things that you internalize and, and trauma situations, and that's something that I've taken in my personal life and that things that I've addressed, and I think that it's, it’s been beneficial to me, as opposed to me waiting until I, I hit rock bottom and I'm feeling extremely, you know, depressed or, or anxious. I think it's important to address it and be okay with it because that, that's a normal human emotion. And I feel a lot of the time it's looked down upon, you know, to, to admit that or be in a, in a vulnerable situation, but that's life. You know, being in difficult situations and vulnerable and being anxious and depressed, that's a part of the life process and I think that's where a lot of learning comes from, and I think, you know, people get better from those situations. I've seen a lot of my patients after they've opened themselves up and realized, “Okay, well there's somebody that actually cares about me. There's somebody that is here in this situation to take care of me,” that's helped them.

Joe Gaccione 14:41
Well, that is all the time we have today. Jason, thank you so much for coming in.

Jayison Mccorkle 14:45
Thanks for having me.

Joe Gaccione 14:46
When this episode drops, we'll have information on the podcast website not just for our grad programs, but also Desert Parkway as well. Thanks for listening out there. Have a great day, everybody.

Creators and Guests

Jayison Mccorkle
Jayison Mccorkle
UNLV Nursing graduate student and alumnus; registered nurse
Building Mental Health Foundations (With Jayison Mccorkle)
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