Tuesday, July 25, 2006

my DSM-IV code right now is 300.00, generalized anxiety disorder NOS

it was actually the second day of my psych rotation, but yesterday all we did was get our badges and watch a HIPAA video. i'm on the women's unit, which is both good and bad, being that women scare me in general and i have no experience with violent mentally ill women.

this morning we walked over to the unit, and had to go through a guard's station and about 10,000 locked doors. some of them you look yourself, and some lock automatically, but i can't remember which is which, so tomorrow will be interesting. as soon as we walked into the unit, the patients were lined up to go to breakfast. "oh, we got some white girls!" said one of the patients as we walked in, and everyone laughed, myself included. it was the pseudo clarice starling moment i had been waiting for.

as in all of mental health, everyone smokes, even the staff. i quit smoking in april and if anything, this reaffirms my decision because i realize how nasty smoke smells on people and everything else. even the air is hard to get used to, but the heat might have something to do with that.

the patients are for the most part non-threatening and just about everyone is quite respectful. most of them are trying to get to a step-down unit, so they know they have to behave. we saw about 6 of them today and they all had schizophrenia, which is my reading assignment for the night. since this is a forensic unit, all of them have been deemed NGI (not guilty by reason of insanity), incompetent to stand trial or need to be here for their parole. there's a good mix of crimes, and not all are here for manslaughter, which makes me feel better.

at first i was scared to turn my back to them, thinking that if i did, i'd get shanked. but then i noticed how the staff are not all paranoid, and i got way more relaxed, although i still got nervous when we were out in the yard and they were hovering around us. my classmate was really on edge, having never been exposed to psych patients before. i hope she gets through this month ok.

in reading their charts, i've seen some themes in mental health care within the prison system that i'm going to research a bit and write more about this month. i have to watch what i say very carefully (hence this dry ass post), but i expect to learn tons about how we treat our mentally ill criminals and how they are eventually rehabilitated.

our psych attending is young (um, like 3 years older than me) and is an alumnus of our school. he loves psych mainly because "people do get better". the money and chill lifestyle don't hurt either. will i lose the bet with my dean, who said i was destined for psych? i still feel like i like everything else, that going into psych is a waste of most of my education. i just can't stand the thought of going into the wrong field and things sucking for the next 30 years.

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