Oregon State Hospital, Salem

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    Hi, this is my first post, so hopefully I'm doing this right. I'm planning on moving to the Salem area this summer and would really like to get into the psych field of nursing. I'm currently a RN with a BSN and 3 years medsurg experience. I was just wondering if I could get some info regarding the state hospital there. I've read some pretty bad articles on the web in regards to the nurse/patient ratio, mandatory overtime, sick calls, and other things. Just wondering if any of this has changed with the plans of building the new hospital. As far as other questions...

    1. Is the mandator overtime a common thing? I don't mind it once in awhile, but is it something that the nurses do on a weekly basis?

    2. With the staffing and overtime being such an issue, is leave commonly denied?

    3. What kind of training is offered to a RN with no psych experience? Is there some sort of preceptorship that lasts a few weeks?

    4. How bad is the patient load? I even read an article that said it can be 18-42 when there are sick calls......42? is that a joke?

    5. What kind of scheduling options are there? If I just want nights will I get it? Are the nurses typically full time on a specific unit, or do the continually rotate through gero, forensics, and adult?

    Thanks guys. I hope I'm posting this in the right spot. Maybe the psych forum would have been better.
  2. 14 Comments so far...

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    No one knows anything about this hospital? Not even any students who've done their psych clinicals there?
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    Quote from kerouac01
    hi, this is my first post, so hopefully i'm doing this right. i'm planning on moving to the salem area this summer and would really like to get into the psych field of nursing. i'm currently a rn with a bsn and 3 years medsurg experience. i was just wondering if i could get some info regarding the state hospital there. i've read some pretty bad articles on the web in regards to the nurse/patient ratio, mandatory overtime, sick calls, and other things. just wondering if any of this has changed with the plans of building the new hospital. as far as other questions...

    ha! you posted at the right time. i just finished my six week clinical rotation at the hospital. personally i had a great time at osh. it was my first experience with psyche and i really enjoyed it. there is also bsn pay differential if that matters. psyche will be a lot different than medsurg, but it may be what you are looking for. it is obviously less technical than medsurg but you still use your nursing skills therapeutic communication, psychopharm and more.

    1. is the mandator overtime a common thing? i don't mind it once in awhile, but is it something that the nurses do on a weekly basis?

    are they understaffed? yes. mandatory overtime? i have seen it with some mental health therapists (cnas) but not really with the rns. overall the staff work hard and get paid overtime for it. most of the people i worked with did overtime and really enjoyed the pay increase. i will say the staff members seem accustomed to the overtime they earn. osh hopes to double the number of rns in the new hospital, so they are actively recruiting rns. in fact they kept asking if we would come back once we graduated.

    2. with the staffing and overtime being such an issue, is leave commonly denied?

    one mht mentioned she had almost month and a half off last year even with overtime. i don't think you will have a problem with leave. one rn on the ward was off on fridays. low and behold, he was not there every friday.

    3. what kind of training is offered to a rn with no psych experience? is there some sort of preceptorship that lasts a few weeks?

    there is definitely an orientation period. you'll probably work with a mental health rn for the first few weeks to get situated. one thing about osh is that you will see stuff you wont see any place else in psyche. for example the new, atypical antipsychotics are less likely to cause epss. but at osh you will see older patients that used traditional antipsychotics so you will see dyskinesia, akathisia and even tardive dyskinesia. if you want to brush up, get foundations of psychiatric mental health nursing by varcarolis, carson & shoemaker. it is our text for school. there are a lot of schizophrenia, personality disorders and bipolar patients as well as mrdd.

    4. how bad is the patient load? i even read an article that said it can be 18-42 when there are sick calls......42? is that a joke?

    not a joke but a misconception. a ward may have 42 patients on the floor but they are not all going psychotic at once. as an example a forensic unit will have morning assessments for patients that needed them. maybe a dozen or so (vitals, etc.) throughout the day you may have a list of treatments you need to complete or consults with a treatment team. the rn would often intervene if a patient were having a rough spot during his/her day. days are usually to staff rns, swing and noc is one rn.

    5. what kind of scheduling options are there? if i just want nights will i get it? are the nurses typically full time on a specific unit, or do the continually rotate through gero, forensics, and adult?

    i don't think nights would be a problem. day shift: 6-3 swing: 3-11, noc: 11-7. you can have a home base or be part of a float pool. many rns i met had a home ward but would then float to another unit for ot.

    thanks guys. i hope i'm posting this in the right spot. maybe the psych forum would have been better.
    good luck. if you want to pm me i may be able to put you in touch with a manager.
    jadamom and lvo_i like this.
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    Thanks a ton for all the information. I'd been hoping for awhile that someone would reply. Glad to hear you really enjoyed it. All I can find on the net are newspaper articles telling horror stories from the 90's. Did you do any of your rotation in the forensic area? The person in human resources said that was the area where they needed the most help. I'd love to PM you but have no idea how to do it. I think I'd read somewhere that you have to have so many posts before it's enabled. Thanks again. I'm planning on checking the place out in early spring as well as the regular hospital there in Salem. I really want to get into psych, but I'm a bit worried about losing my skills. I'm kind of thinking of working at the regular hospital a couple years and then maybe go the the State hospital when the new facility is up. Thanks again.
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    Yes I worked on a forensic unit. Some of the crimes are shocking and horrific but it makes it interesting to see how the mental illness played a role in the crime. The other units would be civil commits.

    OSH is a hospital - so they do have a medical unit. For example a patient will go to Salem Hospital for surgery, then post-op he would return to the med unit at OSH for recovery (once stable.) I'm not sure how that will change after the new building is built. You could work on that unit then OT at other units to get a feel for all of the wards.

    Salem Hospital is working towards Magnet Status so they love BSNs. We had a recent grad talk to us and she really likes it there. SH just built a new patient tower so the facility is nice and new.

    Where are you moving from Kero? What made you decide to move to "Ory-gun"?
  7. 0
    Thanks again for the help. It looks like I'll have a couple options in Salem, so hopefully I'll be a little more sure about which hospital I want to work at once I see them both. Do you have much schooling left? Maybe you're not even going to school there in Salem, but did you do any clinicals at SH? Any plans on where you'd like to work once you graduate? I've got 3 years of med/surg, but am lacking considerably when it comes to cardiac rhythms and EKG type of stuff. I'm planning on applying to the PCU, surgical tele, and the ICU there at SH in hopes of beefing up those skills along with others if I plan to not start off in psych there. That's great to hear SH is trying for their magnet status. It's not a guarantee of course, but it kind of lets you know your coworkers will be pretty competent nurses.

    I'll be moving from the southwest after having lived here for 3 and a half years. I like it here for the most part, but the isolation and lack of 4 seasons is starting to get to me. I enjoy rain and trees, so the sand and lack of moisture isn't doing it for me. Why Oregon? Well, I like the weather, location to the coast and mountains, nearby universities, nursing opportunities, and the fact that there's a big airport there in Portland. My wife's family lives out of the country, so it'll be nice for her to be able to get cheaper, direct flights. I also have been doing a 60 mile one way commute for the last 3 years, so being able to live and work in Salem sounds pretty great. I think there will be some initial shock for me having a 10 minute commute. Thanks again for the help.
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    Quote from kerouac01
    Thanks again for the help. It looks like I'll have a couple options in Salem, so hopefully I'll be a little more sure about which hospital I want to work at once I see them both. Do you have much schooling left? Maybe you're not even going to school there in Salem, but did you do any clinicals at SH? Any plans on where you'd like to work once you graduate? I've got 3 years of med/surg, but am lacking considerably when it comes to cardiac rhythms and EKG type of stuff. I'm planning on applying to the PCU, surgical tele, and the ICU there at SH in hopes of beefing up those skills along with others if I plan to not start off in psych there. That's great to hear SH is trying for their magnet status. It's not a guarantee of course, but it kind of lets you know your coworkers will be pretty competent nurses.

    I'll be moving from the southwest after having lived here for 3 and a half years. I like it here for the most part, but the isolation and lack of 4 seasons is starting to get to me. I enjoy rain and trees, so the sand and lack of moisture isn't doing it for me. Why Oregon? Well, I like the weather, location to the coast and mountains, nearby universities, nursing opportunities, and the fact that there's a big airport there in Portland. My wife's family lives out of the country, so it'll be nice for her to be able to get cheaper, direct flights. I also have been doing a 60 mile one way commute for the last 3 years, so being able to live and work in Salem sounds pretty great. I think there will be some initial shock for me having a 10 minute commute. Thanks again for the help.
    Our school is in Portland. Were in an accelerated BSN program - 18 months - but we have exactly a 12 months left... yahoo! Two of my cohort had their psyche rotation at SH. Also a very good experience.

    Winters are pretty gray here - but if you are looking for a change it may suit you well! You are right, everything is pretty close here... mountains, coast, hiking, etc. If you like the outdoors Oregon is the place to be. I grew up in Salem, so I kind like Portland now. (Though many new grads in Portland find it easier to get a job outside of Portland these days.) West Salem and South Salem are the nicer parts of town with West Salem probably having the upper end demographic. SE Salem (up in the hills is nicer than close in) is a short drive to OSH. SH is pretty much in the center of town...
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    Thanks again for the help. Hopefully you'll see this since I haven't posted in awhile. Well, I just booked my flight to Oregon for early spring when I hope to check out the state hospital. If you don't mind I'd like to ask a couple more questions.

    What did you think of the aides/techs? Pretty helpful for the most part? Are there LPN's working with the RN's as well?

    What did the turnover seem to be like? Lots of nurses with 20 years there, or lots of new grads?

    You mentioned on evenings and nights there was only one RN on a unit. Were most people comfortable with that? Was there someone to go to when the only RN needs some help?

    Did you feel like the nurses had quite a bit of patient interaction? I know in a lot of psych facilities they hardly leave the nurses station due to the paperwork and med pulling.

    Any areas of Salem I for sure don't want to get an apartment in?

    Thanks again for the help. I hope this semester is starting off well for you.
  10. 0
    My email is donnapr53@yahoo.com ....would love to chat about Oregon State Hospital...How are the interviews? Are they as tough as they say? Please email me...
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    The interviews at OSH I felt are very easy. Upon arrival they'll hand you some papers stapled together with the questions that will be asked. Questions such as what types of meds would you expect to give to this population? What are some of the side effects of antipsychotic meds, etc. What would you do with a patient who is becoming extremely anxious. Those types of questions.

    Nurses rarely get mandated these days. The techs do get mandated on a regular basis which I feel makes for some unsafe staff. All staff has to take unpaid furlough days by June of 2011. The amount depends on when you're hired, but you cannot take more than 2 per month. Heck, I put in for them and was denied a couple of times thus far. There are NO raises until 2011 either. The units are overcrowded, but hopefully the new hospital when completed will cure that. Who knows. Unfortunatly there are quite a bit of patients who have borderline and antisocial personalities. They are ******* hard to work with.

    One of my patients with schizophrenia was discharged just today. I was happy that she was "better," but I'll miss her. Some have such fixed delusions that they'll never really get better. That part is so sad. Also, I think the hardest part for me was working with those with borderline or antisocial personalities that attempted or did murder their children. It's very hard not to be judgmental.

    The medical unit is currently part gero part medical. It just depends. Frankly, I didn't care for the "medical" unit there. Creepy.

    Gonna shut up now!!!


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