Correctional Nursing

  1. 0 Does or has anyone worked as a nurse in a correctional facility/prison?

    I was interested in your views/experience/advise.

    I am a female RN and have an opportunity for a position at a correctional facility with approx. 1400 inmates, male facility.

    Thanks!
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  3. Visit  Wave Watcher profile page

    About Wave Watcher

    Wave Watcher has '6' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'School Nurse, Ortho/Neuro, Prison Nurse'. Joined Nov '11; Posts: 687; Likes: 1,708.

    11 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  backtowork profile page
    6
    Hello..I have worked in a correction facility for the last 3 years. I was promoted from staff nurse to clinical supervisor to health service administrator and found the job very interesting. I am looking now to go back to free world nursing for reasons I have posted in other threads. I would like you to consider two things I have learned in my correction setting practice.

    1st..understand that working as a nurse in corrections you will not have the last word on patient care. I would often tell the nurses I hired that "we are not a medical facility that happens to have security..we are a security facility that happens to have a medical dept." It can be very frustrating and hard to provide nursing care when the Sheriff's dept., Warden, or bureau of prisons is your boss. Their job is to provide safe secure prisons..your job to take care of offender's health will always be second to that.

    2nd...Remember that while you have spent your whole life coming up to be a decent person and a trained health care professional with skills and knowledge about healthcare..the offenders have been just as busy coming up and learning their trade and skills as professional criminals. They are the masters of manipulation and finding the slightest weakness in anyone they can and they are professionals at doing this. I have lost 2 very fine nurses to relationships formed with offenders that totally manipulated them..very very sad.

    Corrections is a great field..just be wise before you go in to the possible dangers to self and career
  5. Visit  Wave Watcher profile page
    1
    Thank you very much! I will take your advise with me and remember it! My husband is not thrilled but he also realizes there are not many options where we live now. We live on St. George Island, FL.....nursing jobs are non-existent in this area. I would have to travel 65 miles to Panama City to find work. I may very well end up going in that direction depending on the outcome of this job at the correctional facility.
    Again, I appreciate your time and very educated response.
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  6. Visit  backtowork profile page
    1
    u go girl..u can do what ever u can visualize.
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  7. Visit  Wave Watcher profile page
    2
    Go me!! I'll let you know how it goes!
    Thank you!
  8. Visit  PrisonNurseSara profile page
    1
    Greetings!

    I've been in Corrections nursing for just over a year and I love my job. The diverse experience is my favorite part. I graduated with my BSN in August 2009, and unfortunately there was a massive new-grad hiring freeze in my area at that time. I worked two on-call jobs for 13 months after graduation as a home health RN supervisor, but my heart wasn't in it and that whole time I actively searched for full-time, benefited employment. A buddy from school called up one day and talked me into applying in corrections - the rest is history.

    I am also female, which causes a few issues here and there. I work in a state-run, co-ed (yes, co-ed) prison with a population of roughly 1600. It is the sole women's prison in my state, as well as the Intake Center for men. So on a daily basis I deal with both female and male inmates.

    User "backtowork" hit the nail on the head with the advice about security vs. medical and manipulation issues. So I'll go a different route with my advice...

    Always be aware of your surroundings. Use whatever safety equipment the facility offers. In my state, some facilities have the REQUIREMENT that nurses carry a radio at all times, the same radio carried by security (I'm in one of those facilities). I've heard that's not the case across the board though. If you get this job you're interested in, consider a few classes in Krav Maga or some sort of martial arts / self-defense. You will likely never have to use those skills, but if ever push comes to shove, you'll be better prepared.

    A few questions for you, and things to consider:
    Do you do well under pressure - not just medical stuff, but in general? Do you communicate / advocate well? Are you OK working with societies "scum?" Can you be impartial and not judge your patients for their actions and crimes?

    I could go on for a very long time, so if you have ANY questions or want to know what an average day is like, send me a private message or ask in this post. Best of luck to you!
    backtowork likes this.
  9. Visit  Wave Watcher profile page
    1
    Quote from PrisonNurseSara
    Greetings!

    I've been in Corrections nursing for just over a year and I love my job. The diverse experience is my favorite part. I graduated with my BSN in August 2009, and unfortunately there was a massive new-grad hiring freeze in my area at that time. I worked two on-call jobs for 13 months after graduation as a home health RN supervisor, but my heart wasn't in it and that whole time I actively searched for full-time, benefited employment. A buddy from school called up one day and talked me into applying in corrections - the rest is history.

    I am also female, which causes a few issues here and there. I work in a state-run, co-ed (yes, co-ed) prison with a population of roughly 1600. It is the sole women's prison in my state, as well as the Intake Center for men. So on a daily basis I deal with both female and male inmates.

    User "backtowork" hit the nail on the head with the advice about security vs. medical and manipulation issues. So I'll go a different route with my advice...

    Always be aware of your surroundings. Use whatever safety equipment the facility offers. In my state, some facilities have the REQUIREMENT that nurses carry a radio at all times, the same radio carried by security (I'm in one of those facilities). I've heard that's not the case across the board though. If you get this job you're interested in, consider a few classes in Krav Maga or some sort of martial arts / self-defense. You will likely never have to use those skills, but if ever push comes to shove, you'll be better prepared.

    A few questions for you, and things to consider:
    Do you do well under pressure - not just medical stuff, but in general? Do you communicate / advocate well? Are you OK working with societies "scum?" Can you be impartial and not judge your patients for their actions and crimes?

    I could go on for a very long time, so if you have ANY questions or want to know what an average day is like, send me a private message or ask in this post. Best of luck to you!

    Thank you for your response! Very helpful!
    I work well under pressure.
    I have been told I communicate very well with all age groups. I have had many opportunities in my past jobs to be an advocate.
    I have a few family members that are probably considered "scum", of course I say that with love. :-)
    I wouldn't want anyone to judge me for my past nor what I may do in the future. Each day is a new day.
    I am not very easily manipulated and have no problem being straight forward and sticking to the rules and guidelines.

    Very good questions! I have asked myself most of these making sure I can survive.
    My 18yr old son is a 1st degree Black belt in Wado Ryu and an instructor.
    Hopefully, I won't have to use any self defense skills along the way. My mind is a lethal weapon on its own!
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  10. Visit  brneyegirl01 profile page
    2
    I am also a female RN. I worked in a correctional facility housing men and women. It was my first full time job working as an RN after graduating from nursing school.

    I never wanted to be a floor nurse in a hospital. At the correctional facility there was always something new and different. I liked the autonomy, although it was a bit intimidating at times being a new graduate. I always felt secure, even though we did not carry radios. Most of the prisoners were very respectful of the medical staff. Let the CO’s do their work and you take care of yours. I read a great book called “Games Criminals Play”. It gave me some good insight into the criminal mind, and it also gave me ideas on what to watch out for to be sure I was not pulled into one of their traps.

    My husband took an overseas assignment, so I have not worked for the past 1.5 years. Now I am working in getting my BSN. I am now debating whether to go back to corrections, or try to get a job in a hospital so I can get some experience.

    Overall I enjoyed corrections nursing and I would probably go back at some point in the future.

    Good luck!
  11. Visit  Wave Watcher profile page
    1
    Quote from brneyegirl01
    I am also a female RN. I worked in a correctional facility housing men and women. It was my first full time job working as an RN after graduating from nursing school.

    I never wanted to be a floor nurse in a hospital. At the correctional facility there was always something new and different. I liked the autonomy, although it was a bit intimidating at times being a new graduate. I always felt secure, even though we did not carry radios. Most of the prisoners were very respectful of the medical staff. Let the CO’s do their work and you take care of yours. I read a great book called “Games Criminals Play”. It gave me some good insight into the criminal mind, and it also gave me ideas on what to watch out for to be sure I was not pulled into one of their traps.

    My husband took an overseas assignment, so I have not worked for the past 1.5 years. Now I am working in getting my BSN. I am now debating whether to go back to corrections, or try to get a job in a hospital so I can get some experience.

    Overall I enjoyed corrections nursing and I would probably go back at some point in the future.

    Good luck!


    Thank you for the great advice on the book! I love to read and will check it out for sure! I am still waiting on my background check to come through. My agency said they have to run a level 2 background check (have no clue what that involves). So it's just a waiting game at this point.
    I also have NO desire to ever work floors again! I worked nights for almost a year on an Ortho/Neuro floor and it just about ended my desire to be a nurse. I was always told you needed to work in a hospital first to get experience and I would agree if that's where you want to work for the rest of your career........I have no desire to be hired again at a hospital...that is not what nursing is to me.....I worked as a school nurse and LOVED it!! I made more money working in the schools than I ever did on the floors and less stress, weekends and holidays off.
    So, I'm excited about correctional nursing because it's NOT at a hospital. If I have to nurse in a hospital then I will never nurse again. It was a nightmare for me.
    Anyway, thank you again! I wish you all the best! I assume your hubby is military? My hubby was a Marine for 8yrs and my son is in the Air Force. My hubby is actually going back into the service...this time the Army. So I'm really excited. The military life fits us very well.
    Right now we live on St. George Island, FL. Nursing opportunities are few and far between out here. Keeping my fingers crossed I get to work soon!
    Have a great week.
    Kimberly
    Last edit by Wave Watcher on Nov 14, '11
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  12. Visit  brneyegirl01 profile page
    1
    You comments about working in the hospital really make me think it would not be a good fit for me! This is what I struggle with in moving back to the US! I worked at a school part time before I got the job at the corrections facility. I loved the kids and the schedule, but the job was not very challenging at all.

    We are actually in China. My husband is an engineer here, we are moving back to the US next June and I am counting down the days Many thanks to your husband for serving our country! You deserve thanks as well! I would imagine military life is much like expat life, you have your own "club".

    My favorite advice... I am sure I read it somewhere on this site. When you work in a correctional facility you know who the bad guys are, when you work in a hospital or other setting you have no idea. My brother is a nurse and he has taken care of gang members when rival gangs came looking for him... with only a "mall cop" to watch his back. At the facility I worked at we actually trained right alongside the CO's.

    There were a few other goods books on Amazon...but that one was my favorite.

    Good luck, if you have any questions I can help with feel free to send me a message.

    Theresa
    virgo,student nurse likes this.
  13. Visit  ca_lpn profile page
    0
    Hi Theresa, Great idea. Would you please let me know what good books you mentioned in your post, please email the titles to my email address coolgeyser@aol.com, thanks.
  14. Visit  backtowork profile page
    1
    The book mentioned is my fav as well..it is an old book but a great one. I made it "required reading" for my new nurses in corrections. Remember "firm and fair" in dealing with offenders..they understand and respect this approach.

    I used to think it was unwise to hire the very pretty, very young nurses for fear of the attention they would attract..but later found that these nurses are not the ones at the highest risk..it is the nurse who may be of average or less that average attractiveness..the one who was ignored by the boys in high school..the one who has a bad marriage or is single and desperately lonely. Offenders can sniff this out like a blood hound. The 2 nurses I lost were the sweetest, most talented nurses I have had the pleasure to work with. One lost her marriage and children over the affair, the other lost her license and almost lost her life. They, along with many, many correctional officers..both male and female.. were drawn into the offender's web of manipulation, deceit, and abuse. Career offenders look at other humans as a tool, like we do a hammer or a broom, which they toss out when it serves them no further purpose.

    They (the offenders) will assess you when you arrive the first day..(their assessment skills may be superior to ours)..
    If you can establish from day one that you are a confident, no nonsense professional, walk with head held high, look them dead in the eye (never look down..a sign of vulnerability), be polite, but not friendly...the word will spread very fast throughout the facility as "don't bother with that one..she cannot be had". The line I used most successfully when an offender started to try to make friendly chit chat..(but was really fishing for personal info) is this.."My job is to ask the questions..your job is to provide the answers..are we clear on this???...."..and the answer better be a definitive.."yes Ma'am" or the conversation ended right there.

    But..on the upside..corrections is a really good job to establish autonomy in your assessment skills and other nursing skills. A great opportunity to gain insight and knowledge into that part of society most folks never want to think about..ie gang culture, the impact of illiteracy and lack of education on childhood development, etc.

    Keep us posted on your journey..:redpinkhe
    psysn likes this.


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