I had been a nurse for 1 yr, and only worked in long term care. I craved a change in my career that was exciting, yet challenging; I decided to become a correctional nurse. I had no idea what was in store for me when I applied for a position with UTMB . I spoke with family and friends who thought I was crazy for wanting to work in such a hostile environment. Needless to say, I didnt listen and followed my own instinct. When I was hired, I had not taken a tour of the facility; day one was the first time I walked into a prison. As I walked in the gate house, I was saying to myself this isnt so bad!
I kept telling myself those same words the whole time I was taking my shoes off , letting my hair down to be searched, and getting frisked while checking for contraband. After the most violating pat down I had ever received was over, my heart began to pound. What am I getting myself into? Once in the infirmary I was given a brief description of job duties. By now my heart was in my throat, but I kept up the brave front . I learned that I would be working in our clinic with convicts that required inpatient medical care. My role was to provide nursing care only. A few things I had to take into consideration; they were convicts.
They could be quite manipulative and they tried to test me every time I turned around. They asked questions about my personal life and they asked for favors. They would also ask me to bring in things from the real world or deliver items or letters. This behavior could be grounds for termination so any and every time I was asked to do any of the things I listed or anytime an inmate tried to get to personal it had to be reported. The inmate would then have to face disciplinary action. It was very hard to remember all the dos and donts while maintaing professionalism, as well as maintain safety and sanity.
In the Texas prison system the inmates endure grueling conditions. In the winter its freezing cold, old boilers are all they have to keep warm. In the summer its smoldering hot, old noisy fans are all they have to keep cool. Being tender hearted as I am, I couldnt help but feel sorry for them. I was raised to see the good in every body. I was also raised to believe in an eye for an eye. It was really hard to provide unbiased care when I knew I was dealing with a child molester or a rapist. I know we were trained to put all our emotions aside, but in reality my emotions would sometimes get the best of me.
I only worked as a correctional nurse for a yr. I enjoyed working with other members of the medical staff as well as correctional officers. I actually enjoyed working with the inmates, providing medical care. I have had my share of inmates cursing and yelling at me and have witnessed situations I will never forget. I learned very quickly to be thick-skinned. I learned to be tough in order to do the job and survive. I still reminisce about the adrenalin rush I would get every time and emergency would arise. Im glad I made the choice to work at the Wynne Unit it was definitely a life changing experience.