Advice on how to be more assertive

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    Hey everyone! Just wanted to know if you guys know of any classes, training, books, CEs, etc on how to find my inner meanness. im new to correctionals and to nursing and trying to be more assertive when it comes to handling patients. not really being mean, but being more firm, etc. Any advice, tips, experience, etc? Thanks in advance!
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  3. 5 Comments so far...

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    I would consider also posting this under psych nursing as they have to deal with setting boundaries and being firm as well. Just to get more responses. Good luck! Disclaimer: I am only a new grad and not working in corrections, but I have a history of dealing with aggressive, manipulative patients. You have to be consistent. Don't do favors or show favorites. Other inmates may see this and zero in on you being easy and easily manipulated. I also wouldn't chit chat like we do in normal bedside nursing. This can be misperceived by inmates. Ask questions firmly and to the point. Give directions in a firm voice. Don't ask. Tell. You know how in bedside we may say something in a sweet, caring voice like "OK, we're going to remove your gown so we can place these electrodes to do and EKG, OK?" In corrections, what I'm learning from others on this site is to take charge, so instead, demand matter of factly "take your shirt off so I can place these electrodes on your chest." On one of the posts here, someone used this as an example of an assessment technique for an inmate c/o chest pain which I thought was really smart. If they can take off their own shirt, lifting their arm (especially left, of course,) then that is an assessment. A little off topic but I thought it was great advice
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    I have ordered the book "Mind games criminals play" from Amazon. It has gotten great reviews and I am told it is required reading in some facilities. My impression is that it is directed to the correctional side of the house but I feel it will be useful for me also. I will let you know how it is.

    Another tip: Instead of asking "Do you drink alcohol?", ask "How often do you drink alcohol?". Instead of "Do you use street drugs?", say "Tell me about your drug use." I have found it cuts out the initial denial a lot of the time. It's a more direct way to obtain information and comes off as assertive. Oh, and ask about marijuana use seperately because we all know marijuana isnt a drug (lol).

    One more thing. If possible, do not tolerate an uncooperative inmate. If they don't want to answers questions, if they want to debate procedures, if they are soooo tired they can't sit up. I say, " It appears to me that you are not up to this at this time. You are finished and may return to your cell. We can try this again on another day when you are feeling up to it." I then have them returned to their cell. Discussion over. I have found that they are much more cooperative the next time around.
    Last edit by djules on Feb 13, '13
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    Be Firm, Fair and Consistant. Follow the institutions rules, be kind to your officers and treat your patients as PATIENTS, not inmates. Say what you do and do what you say. This goes a long way in jail/prison. If you are one of the few who follows these simple rules ... you'll make it. If not, run and hide in geriatrics like the rest.
    masternursehater likes this.
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    I have read the book "Games Criminals Play.." I have worked as a mental health nurse in our parish jail for the last 6 years and although the book tends to lean more towards the side of corrections, it is a great book and still a great deal that nurses can learn about inmate behavior. One thing I realized once I read it, is that inmate behavior is universal so I can tell you the tips given here are also the same I have used in dealing with them. Treat them as patients they are still humans give respect, you will get respect. I have NEVER been cursed out by an inmate but I have seen other nurses get cursed out and disrespected. Be direct and always use your all your assessment skills don't be so quick to believe everything they tell you. I read alot of books about body language also and it has helped me tremendously at times read between the lines. I was too "sweet" when I first started in corrections but you learn your surroundings and you toughen up while still maintaining your caring demeanor.
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    I worked in Florida State Prison for more than 3 years. That is the prison where 'Old Sparky' was used and where executions are currently held. It is maximum security. Those inmates are the worst of the worst. Many have severe psych issues as well. Most of them are true manipulators. They will mistake kindness for weakness. You have to tell them what to do from the moment they enter the clinic. Example- "Have a seat in that chair right there." "Step on the scale." "Sign here." Disrespect is not tolerated and results in ejection from the medical area. I don't know anything about jails other than they have either not been convicted yet or they have been convicted and sentenced to a year or less. Anything over a year lands them in prison. I'm sure you will get there. All the best to you!


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