State Hospitals, What are they like?

  1. I have been looking for quite awhile at a job in one of Oregon State Hospitals Psych Units.

    Im sure some of you Psych folks have experience on being in the inside of a State Hospital. What's it like? Does it look like something out of a movie? How often do patients attack staff? What is the work going to be like for a Mental Health Therapy Tech?

    Ive hard some really scary things about them. In Oregon in particular, like 1/3 of the Doctors or some huge amount in the OSH had been cited for different sorts of things. Ranging from kinda bad to horrible.

    At the same time, I feel I would learn a lot about myself,my future and get good experience in an area I have always found interesting. Also have the chance to make a difference in people who do not see a lot of difference in their lives.

    I have already decided however I will not work with the Geriatric population in this setting. My interest lies much more towards the younger people who still have a chance at going onto to have a decent life.

    Sorry about the length. Noone in my fam genereally likes to listen to my thoughts on this so I leave them for you kind folks to ponder. Any info would be AWESOME!
    Last edit by FutureRNMichael on Nov 27, '03
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    About FutureRNMichael

    Joined: Apr '03; Posts: 198; Likes: 1


  3. by   sbic56
    Hi Michael

    I worked at a state psych hosptal for 8 years and truly enjoyed the experience. The politics can be a pain and patient rights advocates will be the bane of your existance at times, but those are the worst parts, IMO.

    Working with the mentally ill is very interesting. I learned alot about myself through them and know I was of help to alot of them as well.

    Sure, it can get hairy. Assaults happen, but not as much as you might think. You will be trained to psychologically intervene when a patient is escalating before they get to the point of assaulting others. You will also learn to use physical restraint in a safe and fairly effective manner. I say fairly, because you are still going to get bumped and kicked and scratched, but hopefully nothing too horrific if you handle yourself well. Still, the chance of getting hurt is real.

    I also preferred working with young adults and adults. Kids, I had a harder time with probably because I had teens and felt like I just wanted to discipline them like I would have my own. Couldn't really do that in that setting, though. Geriatrics, amazingly, is as dangerous as working with younger age groups for the simple reason of the close proximity you are to the patients when providing ADL care. Got popped, scratched more in geropsych than anywhere!

    Anyway...I say go for it. It wil be an experience you won't soon forget and a valuable one at that.
  4. by   FutureRNMichael
    Thanks sbic! I sent my application and such to them today. Here's hoping!
  5. by   sbic56
    Good for you! I hope they hire you. Let me know!

    And thanks for the congrats on my new position. I'll keep you posted, too.
  6. by   FutureRNMichael
    I wanted to touch on a couple things I was thinking about...

    It seems working with those in a State Hospital would take a lot of patience,forethought and maturity esp. in stressful situations.

    While I'm still young - My experience of having been in their type situation of feeling helpless and out of control will give the foresight and maturity level is pretty high for someone my age. It's not to say it would not be tested multiple times every day working there but I have it and would learn more and more very fast.

    Also, on the application it stated to list previous hospitalzations for drug/alchol or MH. I have been hospitalized for both however there was no space to list on the application despite them asking to list those things. I'm not sure if stating such a thing would be a good thing to do in an interview but if they ask am I supposed to say no?
  7. by   FutureRNMichael
    After watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest, I had a nightmare last night. They alluded to that Hospital being a first class Hotel compared to the State hospital. Either it was that movie or another similar one I had watched.

    Scary to think about!
  8. by   Larry77
    Hi Michael,

    I have a friend/co-worker who just went back to his ol' stomping grounds at Eastern State Hospital there in Oregon. He says it's a lot like the hospital I work at just bigger and the different types of pt's are segregated more. You have the geriatric ward, the acute ward, etc. I don't know much about the place but I possibly could help you get in touch with him if your interested. I know it's located near Pendleton, then there's the state hospital by Salem...

    About the interview thing, I would check to see if that is information you are obligated to reveal. There are a lot of questions that interviewers tend to ask that are illegal, like do you have children, are you married, etc. I don't know if your drug/ETOH hx is included in worth asking an instructor or someone in your career center at your school. If you can't find out, I would just try and avoid saying a black and white "yes" or "no" that they could center on. Maybe say something like, "There has been some history of that in my family but it has been resolved and won't be a problem with the job I will do for you in the position I am seeking." Sounds stupid but you get the idea.

  9. by   FutureRNMichael
    Doesn't sound stupid at all Larry. I actually figure that is a great way to go about such a question.

    I would definetly enjoy asking some question and things with your buddy out in Pendelton. I'll send my Email Addy your way in a PM, if that works.

    The MH Tech postions in both Salem and Portland state hospitals have not had openings for awhile now. Not publicly anyway. Hopefully one opens in ohhh about one month.

    I just got a response to my application materials and I got a passing score which means I am eligble and that score should move up when I obtain my CNA.

    Thanks for the response, Larry! Hope you had and have a great holiday season! Sending a PM your way now.
  10. by   laurenkst
    Michael: I am a nurse educator at a Psych Hospital in Delaware--A
    State Facility. Just a word of caution: please make your
    prior tx hx clear before they hire you. Most State
    Psychiatric Facilities do a Security Check/Screen before
    hiring. Fingerprinting and checks/search for any kind of
    prior offense--criminal hx--are done. So be completely
    honest in your interview. Although I personally think that
    a person who is a recovering drug and/or etoh user can
    be alot of benefit to our patients who are usually
    diagnosed with a co-depencency of one or the other--
    they've been on both sides of the bed--sometimes
    administration does not see it my way. There are
    drug/alcohol treatment clinics who hire individuals with
    prior drug use. They are very effective negotiators in that
    arena and actually go out on the street to reach the
    people who need their help the most. They can spot a
    line from a drug user that I would fall over before I saw
    it. They will require however a weekly testing to make
    sure their staff is "clean". If you want to serve a
    community that is so desperately in need of your
    assistance--this may be the way to go--------------Good
    luck in whatever path you choose.--Lauren
  11. by   FutureRNMichael
    Thanks everyone for the GREAT information!

    Since I believe the avalible jobs are minimal and those with a degree in Psych,SW,et al. get first prefrence(Per their site) and ontop of that the pay for a person w/ a Bacc. Degree is fairly decent considering the saturation and what not in those fields... I am trying to find another way to get my foot in the door. Anyone have suggestions? Certaintly volunteers are not allowed inside the locked facilitys but what would be a good plan of action to get a foot in the door in anyway possible, in your experience? My thought was to get in contact with HR and offer my services in anyway possible.

    Thanks once again!
    Last edit by FutureRNMichael on Feb 12, '04
  12. by   Larry77
    Hey Michael,
    I would check into local acute care might be easier to get on there. I have heard that sometimes the specialty units (like psych), look "in-house" for a lot of their new hires. You could get on as a "float" CNA to get your foot in the door and then request a transfer to the psych unit. Another option would be a treatment center which is very similiar to psychiatric units--the work for a CNA is similiar anyway. If you PM me where you live I might be able to get you a couple phone numbers...
  13. by   FutureRNMichael
    Thanks for the reply, Larry!

    Just one question... Does one not need prior CNA experience to jump into the float pool? Generally most hospitals here, as stated on their websites, look for CNA's with experience to work the float pool jobs. Not stopping me from trying to apply for those however. :hatparty:
  14. by   nursemary9
    Hi Michael,

    As others have said, be completely honest with your answers.

    When I was a Nsg. Supervisor of an In-Patient Psych unit, years ago, we had an applicant who was just wonderful when we interviewed him.

    He was hired & he did a pretty good job. On down the line, it was found out that he had been a patient in a psych hospital where I had worked.
    He was let go--but only because he out & out lied about being in the hospital.

    I worked with another nurse who had a psych history--in-patient & out-patient. She was open and honest about her past. She was hired, did super-well and she was on the unit until she decided to go back to school for anesthesia.

    I worked Psych for over 10 yrs. and loved every minute of it.
    I hope you will enjoy it.
    Good Luck to you