caring for criminals, how'd ya cope?

  1. I am doing an assignment on correctional/forensic nursing. I am supposed to find out how you brave souls cope with caring for the scum of the earth everyday. Do you cop heaps of flak for caring for serial killers and rapists and stuff. any help would be appreciated.
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    About stinkin1styear

    Joined: Oct '02; Posts: 16
    Registered nurse
    Specialty: ortho and paeds


  3. by   KimMC
    I worked in a prison in Missouri for about 6 mos. I had always worked in Nursing homes. So this was a different kind of nursing.

    I now work in a jail in Colorado and this is different than in the prison.

    In Prison these people already trained for prison, at the jail they are coming in from the streets. I am the first person other than a police officer they see when they come to the jail.

    I make it a point not to know what they are in there for. This keeps me from being judgemental. Unfortunately, if they are a murder, I have to know to keep me safe.

    My out look on this is, it's not my business to know why they are there. That is between the inmate, the judge and God what happens to them. They could be not quilty, or they could be in there for circumstances that I don't know. The charge does not always tell the story of what happened.

    If they are young and don't know what to do or where to go. I help them, I give them information to get on their feet. So that I don't ever had to see them in there again. I look at it this way if I save 1 kid, then I have done my job well.

    Who knows maybe I can save one and he will be a preacher, or a law officer, or a NURSE. Just by me caring and doing my job.

    Hope this helps.

    Kim Mc
  4. by   mintyRN
    I worked in a womens max security prison for a year. It was the hardest year of my life! Very sad cases. I am a softie and it was very difficult for me to adjust to the mentality of nursing inmates. You cannot take what they say to be true, you must have excellent assessment skills and work well under pressure. I was often the only nurse for 700 inmates. My family thought I was crazy and hated every minute I worked there. I was never physically harmed, but I was verbally abused often. I tried to be fair and consistent with my tx. I miss the excitement of it, but I don't think I would ever go back into that setting again.
  5. by   abrenrn
    I worked at a prison for about a year. My approach ended up like:

    I am NP, you are patient. I tried my best to interact on that level, called inmates "Mr." (much to the amusement and derision of correctional officers). If nothing else, reminded me of my role (to provide health care not judgement).

    Hope for the best, expect the worst. Told by CO in orientation all inmates are cons, will always be cons, so always try to con you. I hoped a patient wasn't conning me but tried to recognize that he might be - got conned a few times, picked up appendicitis, lymphoma, HIV other times.

    Probably best not to know crime committed - when I knew someone was a rapist, child abuser, I had trouble going near them. Though there were some (the self-effacing overdoing maam types) that gave themselves away.

    Must think of your safety first. Only one inmate left me feeling threatened (while indirect the verbal threat was quite obvious). My NA was with me, after he left I asked her if she thought I had just been threatened, she said, "for damn sure." So, called correctional supervisor, reported what was said. I did not agree with how they respond to that but it kept me from being injured (he was put back in confinement).

    Great advantage over "real world" - when patient (inmate) starts trying to get you to address every problem he has ever had when in for a BP check - happens in the real world all the time - you can say "get out of here" when you've had enough.

    In sum, they were a varied, challenging population. Some were people I would not want to ever touch, most weren't. Main reason I left was environment outside of me, the nursing staff, and the inmates.

    Hope that helps.

  6. by   stinkin1styear
    My assignment is now written, thanks to all that replied. Your quotes are now part of my assessment.