I started working for a local processing prison about 3 months ago & was determined to make it work. As a new grad, there were not a lot of jobs for me so I was thrilled and grateful to be offered what I saw as a great opportunity.
You may find an earlier post of mine titled "mean coworkers". That was just the tip of the iceberg.
Are all prisons this way? Med errors are a great example. We use paper mars.. plenty of room for error there. I don't get on the window passing DOT Meds often, but when I do I see meds checked off as given that we don't' have & never had, meds being given that are just the wrong meds. Being new, and slow cuz I actually do check all those 'rights' of med admin ever time, I usually have a supervisor looking over my shoulder, so those errors are caught and the people written up. Guess who gets the credit for finding errors? Yep, me. Imagine how popular I have become! Most people stop talking when I enter a room now.. a very bad sign, I know. I am pretending not to notice, and continue to chat about work stuff, compliment where I can & shut up when I can't, but it's getting harder and harder. The few really nice people avoid me now. I asked the most approachable why but he denied it but wouldn't look me in the eye. I can see the writing on the wall...
Inmates are running out of meds every single day. Serious meds too. It makes me crazy to see heart patients going without meds for days on end. I can't even give out a bandaid or tylenol. Charts are everywhere. If I can find one in under 20 min. it's a rare event, and the charts themsvles seem to be more to CYA than actual health care. Everyone I work with goes on and on about how awful the inmates are, how they hate their jobs.
I also am getting in trouble over talking to the inmates. I am not talking BS stuff, I am talking nursing stuff. What is the med Rx'd for, what are the side effects, how should it be taken. Isn't that what I am supposed to do? So maybe a few already do know and are just wanting to 'talk to a woman" as I hear over and over, how am I supposed to know this when no where is such documented? Am I reading my state scope of practice wrong? That seems to say that I HAVE TO have these 'talks". I make them as quick as possible, quicker than I am comfortable doing, but still am told to 'cut it short'.
I have been written up for med errors on days I have not even been there. When I am not yet allowed to scribble out mars, how could that happen? And they won't say who wrote me up, which is the way I think it should be but generally they are quite free in the info that it was I who found your med error.
Now they are changing my shifts. The reason given is that my regular shift is too busy to train me properly. Uh, wouldn't' they already know that? And it is, but after a couple of months, isn't it a bit late to be worrying about that? And this latest shift change is going to put me with a most unpleasant person. A friend of mine who works for corporate America says its the equivalent of putting an office in the closet & sadly, I see her point.
I'm getting so worn out. It's a battle every day I come in. I thought the inmates would be the worst part, but it's my coworkers & a system that seems to be designed more to cover your you know what, by covering up mistakes, (except mine!). I had heard that 'nurses often eat their young" but man... does it have to be this way? I mean, I got in trouble for fixing an O2 tank for an inmate. I was told I didn't follow 'policy'. Isn't airway a priority? The guy's lips were blue & it was just a bad regulator. Took me 5 min. to fix & boy, did I get in trouble. His sats were in the low 80's! What else could I have done?
I'd really like this to work, if it isn't already too late..or just outright impossible. They will have to fire me, cuz I won't quit without another job already lined up. (working on it but you know, the economy.) I'd like advice on how to either make this work, or how to exit without messing up future jobs. I just cannot continue with all these last minute shift changes. I can't ever remember being this tired & you all know, that will lead to a mistake. And I wonder if that isn't the point.
Is it like this everywhere? Can anyone explain to me why? And how bad, how hard will it be to explain to my next employer why I left this job? I will welcome any and all comments.
Jun 22, '11
I'm sorry you are going through this. From this forum alone, it seems to me that nurses that work in corrections really like it there, and that what you're experiencing is not the norm in every prison. I don't really have any advice for you, but have you tried speaking with your charge nurse or going up the chain of command to get a straight answer? Have you asked for a straight answer? Having said that, you seem like an excellent nurse and have your priorities straight and will probably be the only one there to not be taken to the board of nursing! I applaud your integrity and ethics and I hope you get things worked out!
Jun 23, '11
I also work at a paper mar environment and there are so many ways that a med error can occur without being noticed. I personally only worry about my patient, myself, and my license. If your license is in jeopardy(and itnsounds like it is) then you should get the heck outta there before your misery turns into a world of regret.
Jun 23, '11
If you are being written up for things that supposedly happen on days when you are not working, it is only a matter of time before they have enough on you, valid or not, to get rid of you. The faster you get away from there, the better. Believe you have read the handwriting on the wall correctly. Better to resign, even if you do not have a new job lined up, than to have a termination to explain. Sorry, but this is how it appears to me.
Jul 6, '11
Wow, I thought it was just at my prison. I am out of my prison in 2 days. I'll flip hamburgers or stand on an off ramp with a sign that says "will diagnose for rent".
Get out while you still can. Best of luck to you.
Jul 7, '11
I'm probably going to get disagreement, but hey...
for a start, sociology is, currently, a failed "science", and it is the "science" of Corrections. IME, individuals choose behaviors, and affiliate with cultures that support those behaviors. Social change is generally the result of a number of sub-cultures (i.e., individuals) cooperatively reaching critical mass.
Point being, much of the Correctional paradigm has extreme difficulty properly assigning personal responsibility, unless the individual in question is not part of the narcisstic/sociopathic/borderline/co-dependant criminal culture, in which case, "its all YOUR fault!"
Be an aide, be a phlebotomist, whatever, to pay the bills, but get out before your license is endangered.
You are finding "errors", you are questioning why inmates are receiving drug(s), you are documenting. YOU are ENDANGERING someone's BUSINESS.
Don't know your exact circumstances, but people do get dead over this shiite. Being "right" won't make you any less unemployable- or dead.
Jul 14, '11
Thanks to you all for your honesty. It is quite refreshing in my life right now.
I am getting out. I am trying to hang in for 6 more weeks. That's how long it takes to save enough $$ to live on for a while.
Best to you all!
Jul 14, '11
Is there any way to transfer to another facility?
Jul 15, '11
Hi Biker nurse..
I can't seem to reply directly to your mail...
I could transfer, even to the facility you mentioned but I do not think it would be any different. It's the way the system is set up. One is actually rewarded for finding other nurses mistakes. If it's your mistake you have to write up a couple of forms, often weeks later and oh boy do they threaten to "have you escorted off the grounds" if you show even the tiniest bit of spine. It's very punitive, not at all used for learning purposes.
I have been written up so many times during the training process for things I had not yet been trained on and no one would show me how to do it so I had to guess. These are little things, little guesses, ie: how to note on a MAR that an inmate returned a med, or a med came in, not life or death things. I would never guess on serious things! But they treat me writing something, say "#42 rec'd 7/10" rather than "7/10, rec'd #42" like I just killed someone! When in fact inmates are often allowed to run out of very serious meds, or sometimes even given the wrong med outright. That is treated like it's the inmates fault. They didn't fill out the right form or they didn't do it in time, or they should have said something when they got a pink pill instead of a white one. Really! These guys are not in here cuz their brain surgeons or are comfortable with things like accountability or responsibility. We miss teaching opportunities every single day with these guys. Mention that and I am laughed at. Teach these guys they say, like it's a joke to even try. They want me to treat these guys badly, no matter at orientation they tell you that you are not here to punish them. The reality is very different.
I have worked in some pretty high stress fields before. But no matter how bad it was at least you and your coworkers were in it together. Not where I am now. It's every man for themselves, and many, many of my coworkers just love to find other's mistakes, especially the new person. They brag on it, talk about it behind your back. It's really horrible some of the things I hear them say about other people, people they are supposed to be on the same team with and I am not popular for refusing to participate in what I consider to be gossip and darn unprofessional. There are 3 new people since I came and I really feel for them.
My biggest beef would be that I put my nursing license on the line every day I go in, and no one cares. "Sign here" someone will day and don't you do it!! It may come back to bite you weeks, or I have heard, even years later. I am expected to supervise others who while they may have been on that job longer are still not nurses and still, don't really give a hoot if they pass the wrong med, borrow meds from other drawers, cut XRs in half, or just plain don't give them. Who is ultimately responsible in court of law, (and inmates do like to sue),.... we are. I am.
And here they pay very well for that. Very, very well. Think about why. Is my licenses worth it? More to the point, is my peace of mind worth it? It's not. I have already given notice. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels.
But maybe it will be different where you are. You never know. From the 3 interviews I have been on so far working at a prison & admitting that it just isn't the kind of nursing you want to do isn't exactly hurting me. The word "integrity" has come up. (My prison has a horrible reputation locally.) In fact, I just got a call back for a second interview at just the kind of place I had in mind when I went to nursing school. Wish me luck!
Jul 15, '11
Thank you !! I'm am a little relieved to find out it's not where I will be. But now I know what to look out for!
Good luck!! and I will check into the e-mail thing!!!