1. Using the common nursing stereotypes (battle ax, angel of mercy, etc) describe your relationship with inmates.
I think inmates tend to view female nurses as sexual objects who they can manipulate to do their bidding. I have heard an inmate or two call me Nurse Ratchett, but I also heard that one time when working in a public hospital.
2. What are some methods that you use to build repore and trust with inmates?
The methods I use are 1) Don't promise an inmate you will do something if you aren't going to follow through with it (i.e. look in to why they haven't received a prescription and get back to them about what you learned) 2) Keep an open mind when they are discussing their medical problems and don't make fun of them if they can't write, spell, use foul language to describe body parts, or discussing topics uncomfortable to them 3) Even though a medical problem may not be an emergency to you, the nurse, it may be to the inmate so take them seriously and reassure them & 4) Educate the inmate on how to take care of themselves and their family in the future (especially when discussing communicable diseases) to show that you do care about their health. 5) Irregardless of how the inmate treats me, I will still make sure he/she gets the medical care he/she needs or request another nurse intervene if my nurse to client relationship has bee strained. The inmates respect this because I don't withhold medical treatment as punishment.
3. Are you ever aware of the charges being held against your patients, if so does that effect the way you care for them?
I have been aware of the charges held against some of my patients, but I do not allow that to affect the care I provide them. I would be just as much a criminal as they are if I did. Florence Nightingale is my role model for the nursing care I provide to inmates as she cared for people most other people were unwilling to care for (the poor and sick) and was willing to do so even though it cost her her family's wealth and support.
4. How do the inmates attitudes and philosophy related to healthcare compare to non-inmates?
An inmates' attitude and philosophy tends to vary depending on their age, socioeconomic status prior to coming in to prison, education level, length of time in prison, prison or jail system, etc. Inmates as a whole tend to be less educated about their chronic health care problems and the medications they take and are reliant on the health care staff to maintain their health instead of being pro-active. Their attitude is that the nurses and doctors should be responsible for their health, instead of us being in partnership with them to maintain their health. When their health isn't maintained, they tend to blame us, not themselves.
5. Can you explain the inmate culture as it relates to healthcare?
The inmate culture also varies. Some inmate's will wait until they are deathly-ill before requesting medical care while others will call for medical assistance for every fart or freckle.
6. How were your perceptions of nursing changed or effected when you began taking care of patients that were being held against their will?
My perception towards nursing didn't change as much as I became more of a patient advocate than I had ever been when working "outside the walls." I have had experiences that made me realize how scary it can be to be locked in a cell and at the mercy of C.O.'s to get you the medical care you need.
7. Do you believe that the bedside manner you use with inmates would be appropriate in other fields of nursing? Please explain.
I can get away with saying things to inmates (not that I abuse this privilege, but sometimes I have to use foul language to get the point across to an inmate that I couldn't use in another setting) and being "real" with them in a way that I couldn't be when working outside the walls where it is more "customer-oriented." I often find myself playing the role of nurse and mother-figure, correcting behavior, teaching them, and providing them with advice on how to "fly right" and to take care of themselves. This bedside manner would probably be most appropriate in this setting, a psychiatric setting, and drug rehab setting. Because other settings are more customer and patient-oriented, I don't think this would be well-received.
8. Would it be difficult for you to acclimate to another field of nursing? What would you have to changed?
One aspect of working "outside the walls" that I don't miss is the expectations of patient's family members. I don't have to deal with family members in the prison setting so I can focus on the patient. It would be difficult for me acclimate to having to contend with family again if I went to working outside the walls. I would probably work the night shift to avoid some of the issues I hated dealing with.
9. What events led you to becoming a correctional nurse?
The hours, desire to work in a nontraditional setting, the benefits, retirement system, and pay led me to apply for a position as a correctional nurse.
10. Has it been your ambition since nursing school to be a correctional nurse?
It was not an ambition for me to work as a correctional nurse while in nursing school (I never considered it). I thought I would spend my career working in the emergency room. It has worked out well for me, though, as I once wanted to be a police officer. I'm now able to combine my love for nursing (including my interest in emergency nursing) with my interest in law enforcement.