Abusive pt/family and nurse with PTSD

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    Hey everyone, I'm a brand new nurse (BSN) looking for a job in the Boston area. I have some upcoming interviews at long term care facilities, some which provide Alzheimer's care. I'm nervous because of the many horror stories I've heard about patients and families being abusive towards staff (Alzheimer's/Dementia patients or not). I am a survivor of physical and emotional child abuse and suffer from PTSD and Social Anxiety as a result. I would like to ask my interviewers about how the administration supports nurses who are abused in the workplace. It is really important to me that I am supported by my superiors if I were to end up in this type of situation. I know that memory impaired patients can be violent (but not on purpose) and it kinds of comes with the territory. Therefore I would probably not accept a job on an Alzheimer's unit. But regardless, does anyone think my question is an unreasonable one to ask during an interview? I do not want to disclose my diagnoses, but I feel like a nursing director's answer to this question might be a good way for me to gauge if a particular nursing home is one that I will be supported at.

    Any advice/thoughts would be appreciated
    -Erin
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    My son suffers greatly with PTSD...the left overs from Operation Enduring Freedom and surviving a suicide bomber. He took a job at a large med supply company that services hospitals. He has been in situations where the smell and sight of blood at the facility has brought flashbacks and has brought him to his knees. When he took the job, I don' think he had even thought of that, so you are one up, and have legitimate areas of concern to protect your wellbeing. No, it would not be out of line to ask, and probably a great question for all job seekers to ask. My concern for you specifically would be that you realize that just because a facility does not have alzheimers wing specifically, there are lots and lots of patients who either are in beginning stages or, for what ever reason are combative. I think that tends to be a given in long term care, period. Also, I would think that you would have those concerns in an ER also...especially in larger facilities. Just something to think about. Meanwhile, I am sorry about what happened to you and so glad that you worked hard to become a health caregiver...kudos. I bet you will do great in the interviews...but make them answer your question. Where you start out and how you do with the PTSD could mean your future! God Bless you and Good LUCK!
    jadelpn likes this.
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    I think it is always good to ask about how nurses are supported in general. AND it is a great question to ask when getting the "do you have any questions for us" that happens in most interviews.

    Ask about the enviroment of care, as well as the culture of the unit. If there is a peer interview involved, I would ask about what they like about working on the unit. I personally would not be specific about what is their stance on abuse--that could get you into a "corner" of them asking "what do you mean by that". Instead, general information about enviroment and culture could be more information for you to think about if this is where you would like to work. Also, when given a tour of the unit, observe. Do the nurses look overwhelmed? Do the residents seem content? Because you are a survivor, and have PTSD, you have a keen sense to sum up an enviroment in about 2 seconds flat. How does the unit make you feel?

    I am not 100% sure that LTC is an ideal fit--the staffing, althought supportive, usually involves some real out of the box thinking for some patients--who can get agitated. But many patients can. The difference would be if there's back up to assist you in these instances. Assisted living may be a better fit, but you need to go and sum up the enviroment and see.

    Best of luck to you!!
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    I would keep your questions very general, and not disclose this personal history. At least, not during the interview process.

    Keep in mind though, that hostile patients and family members are found throughout the healthcare spectrum.

    However, I have found this to be less common outside of the institutional environment. I have found that in settings like ambulatory infusion, home health, hospice, etc., this patient population is generally happy to see you and grateful for the care you provide. Not that it doesn't happen, it just seems less common. Plus, the safety of the nurse is important to any reputable employer, so clients are screened for suitability ahead of time, and if at any time you don't feel safe, you are allowed to remove yourself.
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    Thanks SO MUCH to all three of you for your responses. I really appreciate your insight and I will keep all this in mind!


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