going to the penitentiary for psych rotation.

  1. Ok, kind of nervous here, and I am sure that I really have no reason to be. I start my psych rotation tomorrow at the state penitentiary (sp). I just have some questions that I would like answered from anyone who can provide some questions.

    1. Do I really need to fear manipulation from these inmates? I can be somewhat gullible from time to time and don't want to be in a situation where I can be taken advantage of.

    2. Will I really even be around the inmates and have face to face, one on one time or will I be shadowing people from the interdisciplinary team for the most part (I know each place is different, but trust me, I know nothing of this institution and expecting something, even if not applicable in my case is better than nothing).

    3. I understand that I will be going on a med pass, what meds are commonly given in these units (or at least in yours). Once again, I would like to have some preparation before the big day tomorrow.

    4. What kinds of things go on in a penitentiary infirmary anyways, as students what are some things that I get to observe. I was told that we would be observing mostly.

    5. Lastly, those of you that work in prisons, do you like your jobs and do you like students. Nothing I like better than a nurse who doesn't mind having me around and doesn't mind me asking a bunch of seemingly stupid questions.

    6. Ok, I lied, my last question. I know that there may be a slight chance that there could be a chance a patient could get volotile, hence the tight security. But, how often does this happen, if ever...at least in your facility.

    To all of those that answer this post, I greatly appreciate it. I am glad that I am going since this is where I wanted to go for my psych rotation. Any tips or advice anyone could give would be just great. I am nervous, but excited at the same time.
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    About kimmicoobug

    Joined: Sep '02; Posts: 910; Likes: 9


  3. by   MomNRN
    No experience here, but I do work in a school for behavior-disorder kids (the convicts of tomorrow)! I think it sounds extremely interesting - I wish I was going!
  4. by   jemb
    Have you tried posting this in the correctional nursing forum on this board? You would be more likely to find people there who could answer your questions.
  5. by   kimmicoobug
    I thought there was one....but I guess I didn't see it.
  6. by   sanakruz
    Yes inmates are manipulative, but you are much safer in a prison than a psych unit.
    You will see alot of drug induced psychotic disorders.
    Major antipsychotic meds in use-risperdal,olanzapine,depos too
    There wont be alot of discussion about crimes formerly commited.
    Speak to the inmates as you would any other patient and you will do just fine. There are some sad , compelling individuals tangled up in the criminal justice system.
  7. by   renerian
    Wow I would be a little itimidated as well. Good questions to ask. I have no experience in this type of nursing but wanted to read the thread. Good luck and I am sure you will be fine.

  8. by   Louie18
    Will not harm you, but NEVER EVER work full time for DOC unless you have nerves of steel and can take being played (some games last over a year)
    One thing you must be able to do, is realize you never know what is REALLY going on.
    Another is to realize all staff is NOT on your side.
    And last but not least, there always is the chance you will be set-up and end up doing time. (If they decide that is what they want to do) Just know you have no control.
  9. by   laurenkst
    Relax a little, but keep your guard up. Prisoners need good nursing care too. Sometimes they get better care than the general population. I have seen inmates get therapies for illnesses that you and I would have trouble getting or affording.
    I worked in the Gander Hill Prison Infirmary for over a year. It was an interesting experience, but I found I was a little too trusting. Prison nursing is very challenging and in it's own way rewarding. Over 70 percent of the prison population have a history of mental illness. A majority of the prison population committed crimes when their mental illness was not under control--they were either noncompliant with their medication and therapy or they ran out of their medication and psychotic breaks occurred or the medication simply wasn't effective at the current dosages. This does not mean that I think their behaviors should be excused it simply means that this was the time when their illegal activities were active and what got them in hot water.
    Prisoners will challenge your ability at times to be nonpartial. They are master manipulators because if they want to get things they think they need or want, the only way they can get it is to manipulate the prison system and/or you/nurses.
    Some are the ultimate antisocial personality disorder examples. They do not care what they need to do to get what they want and they have no conscious thought about the welfare of any individual who gets in their way.
    Please also watch out for yourself. Inmates have little to do
    on a daily basis. Some attend classes or spend inordinant amounts of time in the law library. So watch your back and pardon my honesty--cover your ass. I am still getting called by
    lawyers to appear in court to answer questions r/t prisoners that I dealt with over 7 years ago when I left the prison system. Prisoners are not stupid and they have nothing better to do most of the time than sit in the law library and dream up possible lawsuits that they think will get them released from the facility.
    Enjoy your rotation. It will be interesting if nothing else. I must admit sometimes I felt safer in the prison than I did on the streets. I usually had a guard with me when I came in contact with the prisoners.
    I encourage you to pay attention to your gut feelings also. If you feel that something is wrong, it usually is. Go with the feelings and get help. Please remember never to let yourself get cornered with prisoners or any other psych patient for that manner.
    Sorry I didn't mean to be so long-winded, but I found I remembered alot that I had to say----------------Lauren
  10. by   laurenkst
    Sorry, an addendum to my note. I reread your questions:

    1. Medication Passes are different at different prisons. It usually
    depends on how tight the security needs to be. This usually
    depends on whether the prisoners are violent offenders. In
    that case the patients are usually brought to the infirmary for
    their meds and you deliver them through a door that has a
    slot for you. There are very few instances when you actually
    go into the cells or the units for that matter.

    2. You won't be alone, you will be paired with a prison nurse.
    Defer to her if you have any questions. The nurses have a
    wealth of information that they don't mind sharing with you,
    and I don't agree with the person who said you can't trust the
    staff. If you can't trust them who can you trust.

    3. It will be very scary the first time you are checked into the
    facility for security purposes. They will check what you bring in
    and you will go a security check and be wanded. Just don't
    bring anything that is considered contraband--metal or glass.
    Once in you cannot order anything from the outside like Pizza
    So if you don't bring your food and/or they don't have a lunch
    room that staff can use-you're gonna starve. You might have
    someone meet you at the door to take you to the infirmary.

    4. You will have to be buzzed into each area in the Prison. So
    don't get upset or feel claustrophobic about this. Gates will
    open and close behind you between parts of the facility. The
    commanding module will not know who you are so you will be
    constantly questioned. This is for your protection as much as
    the prisons' rules and regs.

    Anyway--you will be fine and you will not be left alone. If this
    ever happens question it--------------Lauren
  11. by   athomas91
    don't fret.... they will have someone w/ you at all times.... yes - you probably will be manipulated - get used to it until you learn the behavior.... the only warning I have for you is two ---- universal precautions.