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.

Specializes in aged -adolescent.

I'll bet you love your job, well done and thanks for sharing.