For a while I worked as an RN at a California prison. I was just so happy to be able to find a nursing position after months of searching for a job; I took the job without thinking. It's quite an adjustment because you're basically locked in a facility full of society\'s worst. But I learned the different jobs and after three months, I was on my own. These are the 'weird' experiences I encountered while working at this facility.
My first weird experience was when I was sent to the facilities hospital. I had just passed morning medications and had started on charting. The regular nurses usually take a break between 0830 and 0900 so I agreed to stay at the nurse's station since there has to be a nurse present at all times. Just to the left of the nursing station was a hallway with patient rooms on both sides and to the right was the desk for custody officers. I was sitting there charting when I felt like someone poked my right shoulder. Turning around, I was surprised to find no one there. Figuring it was just a muscle spasm I went back to charting but it happened again. Getting up, the custody officer was sitting at his desk doing paperwork and the inmate porters were sweeping the hallway. The other nurses were still in the break room down the hall. I figured I was imagining it and went back to work. Well later on in the day during shift change, I was giving a report to the oncoming nurse when I felt like someone kept poking my back. I just ignored it so the nurse wouldn't think I was strange but it kept happening and I started to get a little nervous. I had my back to the cabinets and no one was close enough to be poking me. After report, I grabbed my bag and left.
The next event occurred several days later when I was sent up to the hospital but this time for the night shift. I was given a patient who was dying of cancer and needed around the clock pain medication. At around 0300, I went into his room to administer his IV medication. While I was pushing the IV medication, I had my back to the wall where the sink was when suddenly I heard the water running but didn't really think anything of it because most sinks are motion activated and I figured I had set it off. Once I finished giving the medication and turned to face the sink, the water was no longer running. It suddenly dawned on me that the sink in the patient's room was not motion activated but had to be turned on manually and the sink was wet but I hadn't used that sink all night. I got the heck out of there and returned to the nurse's station. Every time I went back into his room to give him pain meds, I prayed that nothing else would happen and it didn't.
The third and last event occurred when I was in the employee mail room checking my mailbox. It was around 0130 and I had just grabbed my mail and was reading through it with my back to the door, when I heard what sounded like a key opening the door. I didn't think anything of it because other employees come in and out of there at all hours of the day. I heard the door open and close and some shuffling. Turning around to say hi and to ask them to lock the door on their way out, I realized I was alone. Figuring the noise came from another room, I looked in the rooms all down the hallway and no lights were on. I hurried back to my work area which happened to be the hospital once again.
After about 6 months of working, I quit and started a job out in the community where I have had no experiences. I dreaded going into work at the prison. The day I started working there my anxiety was sky high and I battled depression through my entire employment there. The suicidal thoughts were what drove me to find employment elsewhere and I'm glad I did. Now that I work outside of corrections, I realize how heavy of an environment a prison is. It's just dark and depressing.
One thing I realize now when I think back about it was the continuous feeling of being watched. Yeah there are cameras all over that place and the guard towers but many hospitals have security cameras as well. This feeling of being watched was just different, especially in the hospital. There are many people who are able to work in a prison without problem but for some reason I couldn't handle it. It still bothers me that I never actually saw any of these events occurs; I just heard or felt them, which makes me doubt myself. I will never work in a prison again.