They Call Me The Swamp Nurse
They call me the swamp nurse. I work with male juvenile offenders ages 14-18.
In Ochopee Florida where the alligators surround us and the lost swamp boys serve their time.. A place that is safe from the hatred of the streets. Big Cypress Wilderness is a place to learn, and repair and make better choices. Choices that will determine the rest of their lives.
My experience in pediatrics and school nursing, camp nursing and The prison helped me to obtain this position. I am a LPN since 1996 and have been accepted for the RN program in the fall. I look forward to learn many new things in school, but I really cannot image ever wanting to go back to working in a building with walls and florescent lighting, I much prefer the Florida sun even if it is over 80 percent humidity on some days.
How do I help these boys?
I clean their skinned knees after a rough basketball game.
I make their doctor and dental appointments, some have never been to a dentist.
I often hold their hands when they are overcoming a painful procedure.
These are the same hands that:
Picked locks, and broke into homes
That stole from strangers and family
Hands that hit and punched, sometimes walls, sometimes people...
Angry boys sometimes with broken homes and broken dreams
It's my job to lift them "up" to help "heal".
It is easy to love the "good" people. I also see the "good" in these boys.
When society decides they are throw away children. It’s my job to give them a second
chance, and maybe even a third or fourth.
My job as the swamp nurse is to help and guide them in their journey in becoming a law abiding citizen someday.
My days consist of passing meds, conducting sick call and making appointments at various doctors. The boys all have different personalities and different needs. I make it my business to know each one by name, know what makes them click. I even know a little about their past. One young man served a conviction for selling cocaine to support his younger brother when his mom was dying from cancer. Another young man has been in and out of detention since age 10, both his parents are incarcerated.
Also I teach the boys health related subjects, first aid and safety, dietary and hygiene and other teen subjects. Every month a few students earn the right to graduate from our program and return to their families. It is always a bittersweet day knowing that you have helped then grow roots but also wings. Many go on to do well and some stumble and fall, I hope the best for these boys.
As my own 14 year old son once said to me "Mom, you may not save lives every day, but you help change them"
That is really what sums up my job.
This is what I do, this is who I am, I am proud to be the swamp nurse.
Joined: Feb '04; Posts: 162; Likes: 55
Juvenile Justice Nurse; from US
Specialty: 14 year(s) of experience in Camp/LTC/School/HospitalJun 24, '08I have worked in a maximum security male state prison, and in an urban high school. Your work is good work.Jun 26, '08what you do makes you a hero and as a student nurse i choose nursing tobe the type of nurse you are so thank you for reminding me hat it is not all about the studies but more about the peoplle we can touch.
being an oldster, i give you this communication from the crypt of florence nightingale, who was a personal friend and classmate.
belinda -Jul 2, '08You may never know how you have touched these kid's lives . I hope one day one of them comes and thanks you for all your hard work and loving care.Jul 2, '08I suppose that depends on how you define saving a life! One of those boys may find the strength to reach for a better life because you cared. Good to hear this story, thanks.Jul 2, '08i have served youth in my parish for a decade, since i am back to nursing, my heart feels sad that i can no longer meet them. just am glad to know that a nurse like you does both of things i want to do, serving today's youth and becoming a nurse... i should find my niche! thanks for the inspiration!Jul 3, '08You are not a swamp nurse. it takes a lot of courage, patient and passion to do what you do. I am honored to have read you story. It's inspire me and i know others to. I salute you for the job that you have. It is one of the best job. As for what your son had told you.. He is also correct. I'm also amazed ny his maturity. may you be happy in what ever you choose to be.Jul 6, '08Your son is correct! Thank you swamp nurse for making a difference in these kid's lives. God bless :heartbeatJul 9, '08Your story is very inspiring. And your son is right, you may not be saving their lives but changing them for the better. Perhaps, you might even teach them how to live.
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