Taking a psych tech job on a locked unit with occasionally violent adults...advice?

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    Hi all!

    I'm super new to this board but I wanted to get your thoughts on whether or not it is appropriate to take a tech job that will put me in the mix with potentially violent adults. I am sitting out the remainder of my school year and reentering my RN program next fall. While I have all this unwanted free time I would like to gain experience working in an inpatient psych environment. I want this job badly. I felt cheated when my psych rotation ended. I barely had a chance to recognize let alone develop my skills. I just knew right away that it was what I want to do when I graduated.

    In so many words I have been informed by the hiring manager that violence is more of a "when" situation rather than an "if" situation. No worker has been seriously injured, but pretty much all of them have experienced bumps and bruises. The support staff to patient ratio is 3:1. Once a resident is stabilized, they are transitioned to another unlocked unit. I would be cross-trained for both units.

    Is this this a safe ratio? What are some steps I can take to reduce my risk for injury? I am a bit on the small side in stature as well. Should this factor in to my decision? Is this too hardcore for my first job in the field?

    I'm looking forward to staff meetings, discussing patient progress, learning more about different disorders, and observing DBT in action. There is a lot I can gain from this experience. I feel like I have what it takes to handle the environment.

    Also, I can be foolish sometimes!

    Any thoughts? Be as honest as you like! *removes rose-colored glasses*
  2. 5 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    I've worked in 3 psych units. There is always the potential for violence. Each place I've worked has a non violent crisis intervention program they use. Pro Act, CPI, NAAPI All teach us how to to recognize when the patients could be come dangerous and what to do about it if they do. We've learned how to "talk some one down" and defensive moves and how to take someone down as a team.of course someone can go off with out warning, but usually we can tell. I work with good people and we all have each others back in regards to safety.
    Speaking about your back, grow a set of eyes back there, But seriously, know who's behind you.
    I am 5'2 and a female. A lot of times they see me as not a threat as I am much shorter then anyone else, and I have a soft spoken voice. Today, I had to get on a chair to do a mouth check.
    Only you can decide if it's appropriate to take the job. I love psych and would want to do any other type of nursing.
    I think of the patients as people, and talk to them like they people, because that is what they are, people with mental illness.
    MrChicagoRN likes this.
  4. 0
    I've worked on 4 different units over the years. Only one was what I'd consider volatile.

    Yes, the potential for acting out is there, but with a good staff, good teamwork & backing each other up, occurrences will likely be rare.

    Early intervention & de-escalation makes all the difference in the world.
  5. 0
    Two words: krav maga.


    That gives you options in case you are attacked, and rest assured my friend you are indeed lawfully entitled to defend yourself.
  6. 0
    Quote from ImThatGuy
    Two words: krav maga.


    That gives you options in case you are attacked, and rest assured my friend you are indeed lawfully entitled to defend yourself.

    There's a difference between fighting someone, and defending yourself. You are advocating a fighting technique. Punching and kicking a psychotic patient is not the same as self defense.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhKjpdWyYMc

    I see by your profile & posts that you are apparently a student. Use an aggressive technique against a patient, and I can pretty much guarantee your career will be a short one.

    There are many much more appropriate techniques to deescalate a situation, or to physically intervene, without anyone getting hurt.
  7. 1
    Quote from MrChicagoRN


    I see by your profile & posts that you are apparently a student. Use an aggressive technique against a patient, and I can pretty much guarantee your career will be a short one.

    There are many much more appropriate techniques to deescalate a situation, or to physically intervene, without anyone getting hurt.
    I'm also a career police officer and make my living deescalating situations, physically intervening, and dealing with aggressive individuals many of which are psychotic patients. I've even had to do it in a hospital when the nursing staff couldn't or wouldn't handle it. Regardless of what you see or think based on television programming, we're not supposed to "punch" or "kick" either, but there are occasions when I or you as a nurse would need to. The self-defense style I've commented on is what I believe to be the best out there. It isn't merely about punching and kicking. If I couldn't back what I was talking about here I wouldn't have mentioned it. This isn't a 21 year old college kid advocating it. Thanks for the reply though. I could see your worry. As for the OP, heed what I've written.
    TC3200 likes this.


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