Sunday, May 24, 2015

On Judging

If you haven't ever done a "meyers-briggs" survey... go do one right now. It can tell you a lot about yourself. One of the things that I "learned"/already knew about myself is the "judging" part. My teacher assured us that that is how we made decisions. We decide based on our judgements. I will admit it- as much as I try I kind of am a judgy person (Yeah I know "judgy" isn't a real word but it just sounds good for this purpose). So it might come as a surprise to most that I ASKED to be put into a jail for one of my clinicals this quarter. Yep, I CHOSE to be there. I had heard such good things about being a student at a jail. In fact when I had my interview for nursing school I remember hearing a girl from Quarter 6 (my current quarter) raving about her jail experience. So, when we got the email about where we wanted to go for community health I did not hesitate to volunteer myself to go. (I did talk to the clinical office, my husband, and my mother before hand). I am lucky and was able to get the clinical a that I wanted for this quarter. That was until my first clinical at the jailed rolled around and I was a hot mess. I seriously cried the entire 30 minute drive to the jail.
"I can't believe I chose to go to this place!"
"What if someone mugs me on my way in!?"
"What if an inmate stole a pen and I get shanked!?"
The longer the drive the more irrational I became. I pulled up to the county jail trembling and blubbering and texting my husband that I loved him no matter what. Sitting in my car, I decided to give myself a pep talk. A "girl you got this thang" talk... It went a little something like this....

Ok, don't freak, don't freak out, don't freak out too much. Everyone else who has come here has loved it. I was assured by the sherif I interviewed with and the clinical office that I would never be alone. If I don't feel safe they will move me to another facility.

I took a few deep breaths, said another prayer (probably my hundreth by this point) and my pep talk turned into something different...

Ok, there will be some "bad" people here- you know that... Yes, you are at a jail- don't forget where you are at. Your job is to treat what is in front of you. Your job is not to judge. These people are still people. Maybe they have made some bad decisions, maybe they have mad some really really bad decisions but that isn't my business. My job is to be their nurse. Not their friend, not their enemy, not their condemner. You are there to help. Whatever you are faced with today, you can do it.

So, I walked into that jail still completely terrified but resolved to be the best nurse I could be. And you know what? This is probably the best clinical experience I have had to date. I have had a little bit of everything. Lots of meds to pass, lots of vitals to take, lots of wounds to dress. Most of the inmates are super respectful, "yes ma'am" and "thank you, ma'am". There is always another health care worker with me and/or a deputy (Side note: isn't the word deputy fun to say? I say it every chance I get when I am there. "Deputy! You can send the next patient in now! DEPUTY! Do you want some of my trail mix?) Are there rude patients? Sure. Are there inmates who are super inappropriate? Oh goodness yes. But I've run into rude and inappropriate patients lots of times before. These people are still PEOPLE. Do you have to have a bit of tough skin to work with some of these inmates? Yeah. Especially when they are withdrawing and telling you that they "just want to F---ing die!" and they get violent really quickly. I am doing my best to treat them with dignity and respect and still see them as patients. Side note: It's so sad to see that the jails/prisons have become the new "mental health" wards/clinics. 90% of the patients I see would say have some sort of mental health related issue.

"Treat what's in front of you, it's not your place to judge" has become my mantra. Regardless of working at the jail or not I am going to try so so hard to apply that no matter where I end up.
My job is to be the nurse

1 comment:

Eliseo Weinstein said...

I have to give you credit Whitney, not too many people ever make it to the point you did. They let fear get the best of them and they miss out on a great opportunity. There are going to be a few guys in jail who want to put fear in your heart, just remember, you get to go home every night and that you just need to focus on the task at hand.

Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds