They Call Me The Swamp Nurse

They call me the swamp nurse. I work with male juvenile offenders ages 14-18. In Ochopee Florida where the alligators surround us and the lost swamp boys serve their time. A place that is safe from the hatred of the streets. Big Cypress Wilderness is a place to learn, and repair and make better choices. Choices that will determine the rest of their lives. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

My experience in pediatrics and school nursing, camp nursing and The prison helped me to obtain this position. I am an LPN since 1996 and have been accepted for the RN program in the fall. I look forward to learning many new things in school, but I really cannot imagine ever wanting to go back to working in a building with walls and fluorescent lighting, I much prefer the Florida sun even if it is over 80 percent humidity on some days.

How do I help these boys?

I clean their skinned knees after a rough basketball game.

I make their doctor and dental appointments, some have never been to a dentist.

I often hold their hands when they are overcoming a painful procedure.

These are the same hands that:

Picked locks, and broke into homes

That stole from strangers and family

Hands that hit and punched, sometimes walls, sometimes people...

Angry boys sometimes with broken homes and broken dreams

It's my job to lift them "up" to help "heal".

It is easy to love the "good" people. I also see the "good" in these boys.

When society decides they are throw away children. It's my job to give them a second

chance, and maybe even a third or fourth.

My job as the swamp nurse is to help and guide them in their journey in becoming a law-abiding citizen someday.

My days consist of passing meds, conducting sick call and making appointments at various doctors. The boys all have different personalities and different needs. I make it my business to know each one by name, know what makes them click. I even know a little about their past. One young man served a conviction for selling cocaine to support his younger brother when his mom was dying from cancer. Another young man has been in and out of detention since age 10, both his parents are incarcerated.

Also, I teach the boys' health-related subjects, first aid and safety, dietary and hygiene and other teen subjects. Every month a few students earn the right to graduate from our program and return to their families. It is always a bittersweet day knowing that you have helped then grow roots but also wings. Many go on to do well and some stumble and fall, I hope the best for these boys.

As my own 14-year-old son once said to me "Mom, you may not save lives every day, but you help change them"

That is really what sums up my job.

This is what I do, this is who I am, I am proud to be the swamp nurse.

Your story is very inspiring. And your son is right, you may not be saving their lives but changing them for the better. Perhaps, you might even teach them how to live.

Specializes in Wannabe NICU/PED Nurse.

That is awesome. I'm a Christian and I do love the word of God- so hope this doesn'd offend anyone- well you know what I don't care- LOL Jesus talked to theives and beggers people on the streets- he healed the blind -he didn't surround himself with people who were already saved- who were already clean- he reached out and helped the ones who really needed it- and I strive to be that way- and I see that in you as well. You do what not many dare to do- and I commend you on that- I long to help people- the same way you do- and hopefully really touch their lives and be something special to them -the way that you have. You are amazing! Keep on being that "swamp nurse"- i wouldn't want to be anything else if I were you!


I used to work in a Drug Rehab with teenage girls as a mentor. I feel the same way that you so eloquently described. This is the reason I am going to nursing school.

Changing lives one day at a time. I wonder if maybe the words of advise or counsel I gave those girls will make the impact on them that changes that one thought that sets them on the right path.

i'm just 19 and on my fourth year of studying Nursing. as graduating students of a catholic school, we had our retreat the other week. We were asked to write our MISSION STATEMENT, something like mission/vison statements of schools. My mission statement was to care for children and the elderly. My other classmates' missions were for the African people, poor people, etc. Although I really feel that the children and the elderly need more help from me as a future nurse, I am still really confused as to continue with the RN career or find another career. I just don't know what I'll be in the future but I love nursing, it's a great job and you get the opportunity to do things for people!

I was greatly inspired by this article. I hope to find my niche someday!

Swampnurse, you plant seeds, seeds of love and of hope, seeds of forgiveness and acceptance. I am very proud to count you in the numbers of REAL nurses. God bless you. And by the way, your son has great insight. nanacarol

Nice job Swamp Nurse and nice story of how you help these boys. :)

Specializes in Med Surg.

When I began reading this I thought it was somewhat akin to poetry or a short story, you have excellent writing skills and you are doing a very important job for tomorrow's adults. Perhaps you should consider writing a book about your trials/tribulations/joys/successes of your job. I would definately read something like that.:yeah:

Dear Swamp Nurse,

Wow, what a wonderful way to help these kids! I have recently started my MSN. I hold a diploma in professional nursing, a BA in Liberal Studies and a MS in Criminal Justice. I am also a paralegal. I have wanted to do forensic nursing, but there isn't much out there (that I found) and virtually no classes to enroll in. I would love to get a job in corrections. The only thing that seems to be stopping me these days is the fact that I think I have made a pretty big "bang" out of what my family always thought was a "normal nurse"! Oh well, one thing for sure, I will probably be going to school until the day I leave this planet on my end-of-life trip!

I am a widow and find school and nursing to be the ultimate trip for action. My mom - (91 years young) a month ago completed her BA degree! So you see, education is the thing I and my family is into.:yeah:

Write if you can!


Specializes in 2 years as CNA.

People like you make me want to be a better person. You are truly an angel and I aspire to one day touch lives like you do.

Thank you for writing this, it serves as great inspiration.


you sure make a corner of the world a better place with what your doing with those kids. I know your family is proud of you and anyone who reads your story will be inspired.

You make me want to kill!

No i'm kidding, you're an amazing person. Those kids really need your help and you give them the care they need.

But what those kids don't realize, they're helping you.

I know how you feel, you are making up for things did wrong in the past, maybe you were a bad person in your past life but now you're a great person and that's just one more star on your way to heaven.

wow, the boys are so lucky to have you there. You are an amazing person for being able to see past their behavoirs. Becuase of you, these boys know someone cares.