My job...

So whenever I tell people I am a nurse at a jail, I get lots of questions and reactions. Yes, it may seem like a strange career path, but I actually really enjoy it. Here are a few questions that I usually get: 

1. Why a jail?
     *After I finished nursing school in December, 2011 (I gave birth to Olivia and then took my final eight days later), I was so burnt out. I took my NCLEX (nursing boards) in February, but didn't want to start working until Olivia was a little bit older. Essentially, this job has provided me the flexibility that I need with having three young children. I started out working once a week overnight in September, then got promoted to Chronic Care Nurse in mid-November. I now work 24 hours a week, so I usually go in crazy early one day (like 4-5am) and stay for 14-16 hours, and then crazy early again another day for 8-10 hours. I try to do it in two days but I may spread it out over three in the future. 

2. Do I ever get scared? 
     *Scared? Not really. Maybe a little nervous at times if I'm seeing a tatted up giant man who could flick me and I would go flying (but of course you can't ever act like you are scared. These people smell fear). Security there is extremely good, but you still always need to watch your back. You also never really know what a seriously mentally ill person will do, so you just have to be smart. I did get scared once when someone was getting seriously agitated and screaming so the correctional officer and I just ran out of the cell. Other than that moment, I have always felt pretty safe.  

3. Am I ever alone with the inmates?
     *(You have no idea how long it took me to call them inmates instead of patients). Yes, technically I am alone in the treatment room with them but the door is open and security is usually right outside the door or nearby. 

4. Do I get hit on? 
     *Yes. But mostly it is just a side compliment or something like that. I can always tell the correctional officer if anyone is being inappropriate and the inmate will get a ticket. 

5. How do I feel giving medical care to criminals? 
     *So I work at a jail, not a prison... inmates I deal with have shorter sentences (usually 18 months or less) or people awaiting sentencing. So yes, I do see people who have murdered someone, but I also see a lot of drug-related issues, DUI's, etc. I normally don't know what they have done (and a lot of times I don't really want to know). People in jail can be pathological liars or brutally honest. You have to handle people who are actually really in pain and really sick, and the ones who are drug seeking and try to do everything they can to get more more more. It is so completely different than a hospital where you really try to go above and beyond to make people as comfortable as possible. In a jail, you just have to say, "No, I can't get that for you." The ones who have finished detoxing are usually very normal, nice people with a lot of regrets. It can be really sad.

6. What is chronic care? 
     *I am the nurse in charge of everyone who has any type of chronic issue (high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, asthma, seizures, cancer, etc) and also everyone on long term medications for anything (psych medications included). So in a facility with over 1500 inmates, you can imagine I am quite busy. I track these people, see them every 45 days (or more if they are unstable), talk to the doctor about their medications, problems, etc. Sidenote... working in the medical ward (which I still help out with when needed), I also see gun shot wounds, stab wounds, funky infections, you name it... it is kind of an ER/doctor's office all in one. You never know what you are going to get. 

Any other questions?? 


  1. yes, when I have my babies can you become a maternity ward nurse just for a day?

  2. Approximately how many stab or shiv wounds have you taken care of?