Ancora Psychiatric Hospital - any recent news?

  1. Hi all,

    Am a new RN (second career, BSN May grad). Went to a nurse fair and Ancora Psychiatric Hospital recruiter was there and immediately offered to scheduled me for an interview. Now, as every new grad RN in NJ/PA/NY knows, there is a major new RN GLUT in NJ, so I did not hesitate to say YES though it is not med/surg and the hospital is more than 60 minutes away. I really wanted to work at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital near where I live, but they were not hiring anybody new. Ancora is a state hospital as well (good benefits and pay). My question is, does anybody have new info on the working environment there since the shakedown and revamp that arose after all that bad press earlier in the year/last year? I googled the hospital and most of the info was bad press which makes me scared to even set foot in the place (that may explain why they need nurses for such a nice salary:$59K++ for new staff). My husband has been there and disapproves of me even interviewing. There was news about a new chief taking over. Hopefully, he has made some improvements to the working and patient conditions in that place. I really need to start working since my husband just got laid off, but I don't want to put my life and limb and license at risk either.
  2. Visit mercermom_rn profile page

    About mercermom_rn

    Joined: Sep '08; Posts: 31; Likes: 8


  3. by   sb8686

    I actually resigned from Ancora about 3 months ago. It is an extremley dangerous place to work. Security is not any better and the staff primarily Social Service Aides are lazy and the RN's and Lpns are not fun to work with... Are I work at Camden County Health services center in the Psych ( BHS) department. Excellent pay more than Ancora and excellent benefits. Staff is great and the enviroment is clean and MUCH MUCH MUCH SAFER!!!!! goodluck to you!!!!
  4. by   mercermom_rn
    Thanks for the response sb8686. From what position did you resign? I plan to ask the nurse recruiter what changes have been made since the new head honcho took over. At this point, she should sell me the place. She should be made aware of the extremely bad rap the place is getting (if she is not already). But I cannot deny I need the job. I am interested in the night weekend shift three times a week (sat, sun and one weekday), which would leave me time to search for another job during weekdays. Would the night shift be a better time to work or does it even matter? I imagine if everyone felt they always had to be on guard for their physical safety then there would no opportunities for a "FUN" or relaxed moment. That is a scary thought. Could you give a specific of how dangerous it can be? A correctional nursing recruiter has even told me it is safer to work in prison that in a psch/ER hospital because of highest level of security in the former. Thanks.
  5. by   IamRN08
    I just started at ancora today with a handful of other nurses. They made it very clear that there are changes that have recently taken place and that the transition is not over by far. I was also worried about the support staff stuff that I heard. I have to say that after sitting with them today and hearing what they deal with I can understand where some of them come from. It was pretty eye opening to see that they can't get full time right off the bat and they are pretty much at the mercy of the hours they are given which isn't easy if you are still working another job until you get full time there. Plus they are not eligible for any benefits. So they start off disgruntled and I think it just goes down from there. All and all I *wanted* to work there and could have worked anywhere and was offered other position. I also drive close to an hour and would love to be at the Trenton hosp, but it is what it is and I did choose to go to ancora. As you pointed out we make a great salary for a 3 day work week and the benefits are great. The only thing I am having a hard time with now is finding a civil service exam study book because you have to take that exam working at a state facility.

    Good luck with your decision and let us know what you decide... if you come to anocora let me know and perhaps we can connect.
  6. by   IamRN08
    I forgot to mention that I know several people out there who have been there for like 20-30 years so they have seen the highs and lows and they have all commented that the changes that have come so far have been for the positive. There are now double the amount of nurses doing what one nurse used to do. Hope that helps some.
  7. by   mercermom_rn
    IamRN08, I have formally withdrawn my application from Ancora. You see I finally managed to get interviewed at Trenton Psych (after countless messages and emails to the recruiter), and got the same conditional offer that starts jan 2009.

    On the upside, Trenton Psych Hospital has no forensic unit (patients with legal issues) that needs higher security since Ann Klein Forensic Center handles that at a different site. Accdg to a nursing supervisor I know there, TPH has much better joint commision scores than Ancora. On the downside, TPH does not have an acute care unit like Ancora, since all sick folk are sent to the area hospitals nearby. So per the same supervisor I know, there is not much chance to learn any medical skills there if you are a new grad. Also, they are phasing out their 3-day work week to the chagrin of some old-timers there.

    Per the recruiter, they are hiring new grads monthly (except Dec). So if TPH is closer to you, you could probably transfer easily if you still wanted to. Good luck!

    update: I have decided to accept another offer-- a med/surg position at an acute care hospital 5 miles from my house and starts this year. I have given up the state benefits to be able to work sooner and to learn basic nursing in med/surg before specializing in psych in the future. per TPH handout, a clinical nurse specialist in psych earns more than 80.8 K for NJ!!
  8. by   AtomicWoman
    Quote from mercermom_rn
    Also, they are phasing out their 3-day work week to the chagrin of some old-timers there.
    Any idea why TPH is phasing out the 3-day work week? I would think that would make them less attractive to a lot of nurses.

    BTW, I would not take a job at Ancora. I have lived in SJ for 25 years, and it's always one thing after another at that facility -- escapees, attacks, murders, etc. I know they are making changes, but the violence there scares me. And my husband would barricade me in the house before he would let me work there... As attractive as the state pay and benefits are, Ancora is not on my list for the time being. Of course, I may be singing a different tune if I can't find a job in 2010!
  9. by   IamRN08
    Congrats on finding a med/surg so close to home!

    Also thanks for the info on TPH. I had always wanted to work at Ann Klein up that way since the day they opened the doors there. My husband helped program that place and I always wanted to go to work with him just to check it out.

    I might apply there in the future but right now I am going to stay put at Ancora. As you found out it takes the state a long time to do paper work and I need a steady check for now. Plus the ward I am on has a strong amount of NGRI pts and I am a forensic girl by far so I am pretty happy right now. I think its a good time to start at Ancora because they are making serious changes out there and have been given the funds to do so in order to decrease the incidents. I was pretty happy to see that they are now making certain trainings such as Mandt required by all employees new and old.

    While we have a med/surg unit I don't plan on working there anytime soon. I did my brief time on med/surg and it was not for me. If I get the desire to start a line again I can take per diem spot at a local ED for that.

    Stay in touch and let us know how the new job goes....
  10. by   mercermom_rn
    Per the TPH recruiter/ADON, the 3-day work week is being phased out to comply with state laws....if that were the case then I would think Ancora would do the same in the future.

    Deep down in my heart, I know med/surg is not for me either, but as a new grad, I know I have to try it for basic medical training; and the fact that the job starts in November instead of January/February '09 with the state was a major selling point. The state takes a while to process applications, so after preceptorship at the acute care hospital ends by 01/05/09 and I don't feel comfortable continuing on, I will pursue the TPH application on a full time or part time basis. BTW, TPH rates per handout for per diem are $35 wkdays/$45 wkends. It is just 3 miles farther than the hospital from my home :wink2:.
  11. by   IamRN08
    Yeah I'm not sure whats going on with that 3 day work week issue. Ancora just rolled out the new 3 day work week programs for RNs and it was part of their major selling point so I can't imagine them changing that too soon. I heard there were a lot of changes at TPH but then again I also heard they were on more of a freeze than Ancora and that they were facing more joint issues than Ancora was/is but who knows what is the truth anymore. All I know is that as you said, you have to try what your heart tells you is right and if you can't stand it there are always other options. I don't regret trying the med/surge first no matter how short the time was there because it made me realize just how much I wanted psych.

    What hospital are you going to?

    [quote=mercermom_rn;3253215]Per the TPH recruiter/ADON, the 3-day work week is being phased out to comply with state laws....if that were the case then I would think Ancora would do the same in the future.
  12. by   mercermom_rn
    IamRN08, I am orienting at Capital Health at Fuld. First week of orientation was just lectures on corporate and clinical policies. I hope there is a clinical lab soon, since the last med surg rotation I had was a year ago!! How long did you stay in med surg? Did you get hired as a new grad or as a one-year experienced nurse? I hope I last at least a year to be more marketable!

    Both recruiters at Ancora and TPH have told me they hire new people monthly. At the job fair where I met the Ancora recruiter, a lot of people signed up for interviews. But when I showed up on interview day, the recruiter had several no shows. I guess their reputation had scared a few people off. My husband even insisted that he drive me to the interview and was not so keen on the commute. For TPH, there was a steady stream of applicants at Human Resources when I filled up their paper application. I was under the impression that it is just harder to get interviewed at TPH because more people are interested working there, and the ADON who does the hiring was extremely busy since one of his peers started working part time and he has taken on some of her management responsibilities. I just finally landed the interview since I managed to get hold of the recruiter's email id and put in an employee's name as the one who referred me.
  13. by   IamRN08
    I was hired as a new grad because I only had a few months med/surg as a RN. I have been in the medical field though through all of nursing school primarily on the ED. I don't mind starting as a new grad because it gives me time to move into a charge nurse role.

    Capital is a good system from what I hear. Lot's of opportunity to move around at various facilities.
  14. by   mercermom_rn
    thanks for all your input! I may need some feedback from you in the future about Ancora if ever the housing crisis is over and we manage to move to Southern NJ to be close to my husband's family. Right now, I am stuck here in mercer county, and I am thankful there are plenty of hospitals (state and otherwise) where I can find work (as long as I get one year of acute care under my belt). Good luck to us both!

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