Thursday, June 29, 2006
I've been hearing these words quite a bit lately. To a certain extent it's a seasonal thing. Many of our facilities were built before air conditioning was invented. When the indoor temperature starts pushing 90 degrees, people rub on each others' nerves and tempers flair. The work is difficult enough, but dealing with these challenging patients gets even harder when you need to look after your co-workers' well-being. Battle fatigue can strike anyone, from the top administrator down to the scheduling clerk.
I try to remind people that the problems are temporary. I encourage them to take time off or think about ways of changing the job to make things more bearable. In a worst case scenario, I even suggest looking at other job options just to reassure yourself there are always alternatives available. Sometimes that's enough, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes people need to leave for their own mental health.
I don't want my colleagues to leave. The average length-of-stay for a new correctional doc seems to be six months to a year at the longest. "Lifers" are rare, at least among us non-inmates. I'm blessed to be working with a dedicated young doc now who is called to public psychiatry and is very, very competent. I've watched her grow in her correctional experience and learn, both with and without my help. She has reached the critical stay-or-go point that comes with the adaptation process. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.