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Mental Health Facility

Posted by Confessions of the Professions in Confessions

Viktor Vedmak


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This happened during my first internship, back in my medical school days. One of my professors had a friend, who had a friend, et cetera, who needed male nurse for night shift at mental health facility for young dangerous offenders about two hours outside of the city. They told me it’s an easy way to get internship credits I needed and I would even be partially paid (most internships are unpaid, free labor). All patients are asleep at night, most are medicated to be vegetables, easy job. So I accepted.

One of my duties was to patrol the corridors every once in a while in section where lower risk patients are kept. Their rooms are not always locked, and sometimes they wander off, to bathroom, to each other’s rooms, I would simply need to remind them they are supposed to be in their room at night, they would complain but comply.

One of regular wanderers was this tiny girl. She was over 20, but physically she was below 5 feet tall, under 80 pounds. I was over 6 foot and 180 pounds. Normally, she simply would return to her room when asked. One night, she had a different idea. When I asked her to go to her room, she told me that she had enough of that place and that she was leaving. Hey, if I was in her place, I would not want to be there either. I was counting days until my job there came to an end. Problem was, I did not have time to try to speak, to use my psych training to talk her down, she was talking faster than a motorboat.

She went on about her father, brother, doctors, and then, without any kind of warning, this tiny girl jumped at me trying to bite me! I was totally unprepared, my guard was completely down, I had spoken to this girl hundred times in last three months prior to that night. She was screaming that I am in her way and that she was going to kill me.

I was just a kid back then, and all I knew how to do is restrain her wrists, try to keep myself away from her teeth and scream louder than her asking for help. My co-workers arrived and they subdued her, but I quit that job that night. And I switched my major that semester, than took a year long break from school to travel. I still get shivers thinking of her eyes and teeth.

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