Considering a Nursing Job within a Corrections Facility

When most nursing students begin their education in nursing they do so with the intention of becoming a nurse at a hospital or doctor’s office. The further they get into their training they may realize they’d rather practice nursing in a school, nursing home, or clinic.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that when doctor’s office and hospitals post job openings, they receive hundreds of resumes from qualified nurses.

However, there is one healthcare field few nurses consider:  correctional facility nursing.  Correctional nursing is defined as the practice of nursing and the delivery of client care within the criminal justice system.  Correctional nurses work in jails, detention centers, youth custody facilities, prisons, and halfway houses. These nurses treat inmates for issues like trauma, and treat chronic health problems like AIDS infection, substance abuse, and mental illness. While correctional nursing may not have the most glamorous reputation in the nursing industry, the specialty is increasingly gaining the respect it deserves.  If you have been considering a nursing job within a corrections facility, we at BOS Medical encourage you to continue giving it a thought.

What are the job duties of a correctional nurse?

Correctional nurses provide care to inmates and other offenders. These nursing professionals help inmates suffering from chronic medical conditions. Additional nursing care is provided for inmates who experienced injuries during fights and accidents.

What are the biggest challenges?

Many nurses shy away from correctional nursing because of the additional training that is required for a nurse in a correctional facility.  Correctional nurses must learn how to interact with prisoners, as well as what to do during a non-medical prison emergency such as a lockdown.  Another concern of course is safety when it comes to working with prisoners.  While the frequency of attacks on either a nurse or their family is rare, there is still always a possibility of violence.

What skills and qualifications are required?

Correctional nurses require special skills for inmate care.  These skills include, but are not limited to, nursing training skills, interpersonal skills and team-building skills.  Interpersonal skills are key for responding to an inmate’s medical condition. Besides interacting with inmates, these professionals possess team-building skills. A correctional facility nurse must also possess strong team building skills to work well with other medical staff members, correctional officers and prison wardens.

The majority of correctional facilities will only hire RNs or LPNs with correctional certification.  LPNs provide basic care such as checking the temperature checks, while registered nurses or nurse practitioners perform nursing assessments.

What is the work environment like?

Most correctional nurses start everyday by walking through metal detectors and several levels of security.  They only see patients with an armed guard nearby, and many of their patients are in handcuffs or shackles.  Because work environments include jails, prisons and juvenile offender homes, safety protocols and security measures are much stronger than at the average hospital.   The atmosphere is very similar to the ER in that it’s usually chaotic, requires flexibility, and you never know what’s going to come through the door.  Correctional nursing requires working with patients from vastly different ethnicities and socioeconomic groups.

Why should you consider it?

Correctional nursing is a specialty practice area with its own distinct body of knowledge and specialized patient population. Many nurses stumble into this specialty by accident and continue on enjoying the many challenges and benefits.  Correctional nursing often provides a less stressful and physically demanding environment than traditional hospital nursing. Correctional nurses that we talked to claimed that the work is often more rewarding than their previous nursing roles in hospitals or other healthcare clinics.

Looking for an exciting new career as an RN or other medical professional? 

Let the experienced recruiters at BOS Medical Staffing help.  Since 2008, BOS Medical has brought talented nurses, therapists and medical administrators together with top facilities. Our nursing and healthcare staffing recruiters go above and beyond to match each of our candidates to the right job. Contact BOS Medical today to find your next opportunity.

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