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Forensic Nursing Links | Pagan Healing Links]

GreenMan here. This page is dedicated to the art of healing and nursing. By trade, I am a registered nurse with a BSN. I don't work in a hospital or a doctor's office. I work at a State Correctional Institution. What I do is called Forensic Nursing. As you can see by the links below, there really isn't a lot of information on what I do, so let me tell you.

Forensic nursing can be broadly defined as any form of nursing practice which relates to law. This can be anything from caring for a crime victime in a community ER to caring for the convicted criminals on death row. To make a long story short, in todays health care environment, most nurses are forensic nurses to some degree since healthcare and law are becoming increasingly intertwined.

For those of you who are interested in my work specifically, let me give you the highlights. If I use too much jargon, please feel free to email me with and questions. In a hospital you can see a clear division of nursing practice. For example, it is easy to see the difference in function between an operating room nurse and the "staff nurse" who works at the bedside. In the prison the nurse can do it all. I work in the Prison ER. I work medlines. I do psychiatric nursing with mentally ill inmates. and I work in the infirmary, which is the hospital area. I love what I do. I get to learn about every aspect of nursing (OK, I work in a men's prison, so I don't get much OB/GYN training).

Working in a prison isn't for everyone. Although I wouldn't change jobs for the world, it's tough. When that door slams shut and the guard searches you from head to toe, you realize you are in a different world. It is said by some that people work in prison nursing for either a day or a lifetime. The inmates aren't allowed to do even the most normal medical procedures on themselves, such as give their insulin shots because needles are a security risk. Needles and medications are counted about a hundred times a day. There are more procedures and government forms than you can shake a stick at, all for the safety of the staff and the inmates themselves.

When I originally started working at the Prison, I had to go through a three week Correctional Officer's Training program. Technically, I am a nurse, but I am also Correctional Staff. I am treated with tremendous respect (It's pretty hard to get used to being called "sir" by someone old enough to be my grandfather) for two reason: first, it's regulation that inmates call all staff "sir" or "ma'am" and second, the nursing staff are the only people that really care for the inmates. When they are sick, or in pain, we don't care what they did to get in prison; they are human beings that need our help and we treat them like human beings. The inmates know that and treat us very good. In the time I've worked there, I have never had any difficulties with any inmate. You might think it's tremendously dangerous to work there, but with the respect we receive (as well as the intense security), it's really quite safe. In fact, I worked at a teenage drug and alcohol rehad before this job and I received more injuries from patients there than at the prison. So you know, I have never seen a nurse get injured on the job by an inmate as a result of a direct assault. Still, one should always remember to be safe.

As much as one might think, it's not hard to look at these people as people. Sure, to get into a State Prison, they must have committed a heinous crime. However, as a nurse it isn't my responsibility to judge or punish them. The court system has already done that by incarcerating them. It is my responsibility to heal them. I don't condone anything these men have done. I find violence extremely distasteful and as a Pagan any form of crime against themselves or others will be balanced out three-fold. In spite of past behavior, the inmates are still living beings and therefore entitles to receive the best care I can give. When we begin to treat them like wild animals that is exactly what they become. Part of rehabilitation is showing these individuals that they have self worth. As a nurse, I take a holistic approach, so it is just as important to heal the mind an spirit as it is to heal their bodies.

One method I have to maintain my professional objectivity is to never, EVER, look in their legal history. I don't want to know what my patient did. I don't care. Sometimes I find out, and other times I hear stories. In general, I make it a point to stay ignorant. Many inmantes change over the years. The old man I'm caring for who's in for life is not the same teenager who made a stupid mistake decades ago for which he is still paying the consequences. Not only do I believe people change, but I firmly believe that it is against human nature for people to stay the same.

If you are having difficulties understanding this philosophy, I refer you to the Florence Nightingale Pledge. Upon graduation from many nursing institutions, each nurse is required to recite this pledge and encouraged to live by it...

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.*

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International Association of Forensic Nursing
Forensic Science Webpage
American Academy of Forensic Sciences
Areas of Forensic NursingAJN Network - Nursing Organizations
American Journal of Nursing Home Page
American Assembly of Men in Nursing
American Psychiatric Nurses Association

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*This modified Hippocratic Oath was arranged by Mrs. Lystra E. Gretter and a Committee for the Farrand Training School for Nurses, Detroit. It was called the Florence Nightingale Pledge as a token of esteem for the founder of modern nursing.