Correctional Nursing-Last Stop For Nurses who can't make it anywhere else - page 7

I came to correctional nursing after 4 years of ER experience in a level 1 trauma center. I was burned-out and ready for a change. One of the first things I noticed hanging on the wall of the nurses... Read More

  1. by   bighousenurse
    first, i'd like to say that i am sorry to hear you had a bad experience in correctional nursing. that type of atmosphere can be difficult for many nurses to adjust to. not only are you a nurse, but you have to be able to think "security" first in everything you attempt to do. working with healthcare staff that have been in the "system" for many years can also derail a lot of newcomers idealations about patient care. you probably learned about the 3 "c"s of corrections--custody, control, & care. in corrections, they are in just that order---custody and control are always first, care last. this was the hardest concept for me to learn and most of all, to accept. but with my years of service, i have learned this is the way it has to be. yes, it's true that our skills can be limited, but where we are lacking in some areas, we exceed in others. for instance, our psych skills are unsurpassed, we can triage emergencies with the best of regular emergency room hospital nurses. our documentation of occurances have to be top-notch due to the abundance of frivolous lawsuits filed by the inmates against the medical department when they don't "get their way". as with any specialty nursing area, you learn and grow to be the best at what you do where you're at. i certainly couldn't go into, for example, cardiac or pediatric nursing at this point in my career, because i do not have the current skills to provide proper care to these types of patients. this fact doesn't mean that i am not a competent nurse. i, as the other nurses in my line of work, have made a choice to make correctional nursing a career. the money is fantastic, the benefits are great, overtime is always there if you like, or need, the extra money, and best of all---retirement at the age of 50 if you have at least 20 years of service in. considering that the current age for social security is 67 or 68, this is a considerable perk for working for the doc. my retirement check when i'm finished will be around $3,000 per month, and, if social security is still around when i reach their required age, i will be getting that money also every month. so all in all, working as a correctional nurse makes good financial sense. i am "doc proud" and very thankful that i fell into such a good job when i did.
  2. by   nurseangel47
    Sorry, guys and girls. I, too, had an unpleasant awakening when I sampled nursing for inmates at the local county detention center. It was unlike anything I could have imagined. Many times have I wished I hadn't wasted the time I did on trying to become oriented there. Left right after orientation which included thoughts of many of the same as op. I, too, have a variety of nursing experience. I, too, was appalled and disappointed. Thought that the nurses and other health care providers would be at least professional and courteous towards each other. It was as backbiting and unprofessional as any of the rest.
  3. by   Sheri257
    Quote from nurseangel47
    Thought that the nurses and other health care providers would be at least professional and courteous towards each other. It was as backbiting and unprofessional as any of the rest.
    I personally haven't had any bad experiences but, unfortunately ... that can happen anywhere in any job. What I've done is go to work for state corrections. That way, if I run into a toxic environment, I can easily transfer units or facilities if there's too much back biting ... because there's lots of positions I can transfer to.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Apr 17, '07
  4. by   pmh27
    I have a question? Does anyone suggest as a new LPN starting off in a correctional facility. I plan to finish my schooling later
  5. by   Mudwoman
    Our prison has lost 4 really, really good nurses in the last 10 months. We still have me for another month (just graduated with RN) and 2 other nurses are really good. What is left is a nurse with arthritis so bad that she is unable to draw blood or start IV's and her handwriting is almost worse than a doctors. Another nurse works nights and does nothing. Another nurse has the nickname of "stroke victim" because she is so slow and dumb.
  6. by   texascowgirl
    yall can hate on the original poster all you want, but i hate to admit it, she's mostly right. from MY experience, working in large prisons, penitentiaries, county jails, detention centers, in two states, i have seen incompetence that would NEVER cut it in even in a nursing home or med-surg floor of a poorly run facility. i cant begin to tell you how BAD some of the nurses i have worked with in prisons were. it was downright scary. some worked in prison because they had limitations to practice. they couldnt practice as an RN in an "acute care setting" etc.
    i currently work ER and PACU.......but LOVE correctional health and cant wait to go back to it, regardless.
  7. by   penguin2
    I have worked w/a nurse that came from a correctional facility. The main thing I'd say we all noticed is that she would PANIC if anything was even close to being out of the routine-- out of proportion to the situation, and easily stressed.
    Last edit by penguin2 on Apr 22, '07
  8. by   Sheri257
    Quote from texascowgirl
    yall can hate on the original poster all you want, but i hate to admit it, she's mostly right. from MY experience, working in large prisons, penitentiaries, county jails, detention centers, in two states, i have seen incompetence that would NEVER cut it in even in a nursing home or med-surg floor of a poorly run facility. i cant begin to tell you how BAD some of the nurses i have worked with in prisons were. it was downright scary. some worked in prison because they had limitations to practice. they couldnt practice as an RN in an "acute care setting" etc.
    i currently work ER and PACU.......but LOVE correctional health and cant wait to go back to it, regardless.
    That's really changed in my area. Ever since California dramatically raised the pay for corrections RN's ... a lot of experienced acute care nurses are now wanting to work at the prisons. There's actually a waiting list for those jobs.

    However, I've also heard that a lot of them have quit, mostly because they had trouble adjusting to corrections and, also, the prisons can mandate a lot of overtime which a lot of RN's don't like.

    Still, corrections is no longer the last stop for RN's in California ... it's actually become the first stop because of the pay and benefits, at least in my area.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Apr 23, '07
  9. by   RN4im
    I recovered fresh hearts, worked a pediatic burn unit, most acute care units in a level one trauma center, ob, was a visiting nurse, did private duty and worked detox(also 12 years in med-surg). I now work in a county jail and find this a fantastic situation to bring forth a lot of my experience. Pay is good, the leg work is less and I have a life when I go home....less tired. If you enjoy a challenge and want to kick back awhile, this is it. Most of my patients are very greatful, I'm greatful I'm there.
  10. by   ddc101
    Corrections has its drawbacks but to imply that many corrections nurses could not cut it any place else is a poor overall assessment.I work with and
    have worked with some awesome nurses in Corrections.When the only one in charge is you and there is not md in sight you have to be able to triage.It
    is alot of responsibility.I would not want to do it if I did not have jam up assessment skills.It just may be that Corrections is so challenging due to the enviroment and people who basically have alot of needs both psyche and physical due to bad lifestyle habits and choices that the truth is made very clear when a nurse does not have good skills.It also depends what kind of facility you work for and the company involved.State and local agencies don't really pay but private corrections staffing companies do and usually
    have alot better equipment to work with.I give meds to alot of people with
    complete security at all times.I don't climb tiers I use an elevator.Granted the elevator does go out at times and I have to use a Stanley tool box and prepour but that is not the usual.I also do sick call and treatments,diabetic counseling,give insulin and do many lab tests.We have our own triage room and EKG machine.We do our own labs and blood draws.I like it.Its not for everyone and there are alot of ungrateful people involved but its a challenge to care for those who don't care for you.You have to love people or you won't make it.This is not a job for a lazy nurse.
  11. by   JessicRN
    Quote from VegRN
    This is such an excellent book and I also heard about it here. I recommend it to other nurses all the time.

    Orca, excellent comments about correctional nursing, could not agree more.

    I also loved the comment that another poster made about hospital nursing and pts being upset that it took you 10 minutes to get a cup of tea for them (while you were in the next room saving a life). This is one of the many reasons why I love correctional nursing. Most of the outside people wouldn't believe it, and this is from observations at my institution but, in corrections, disrespect towards nurses isn't tolerated. The inmates can't order you around, swear at you, etc because they are actually punished for it. And for the most part inmates respect the nurses because they know that we are here to help them (and they want something from us). We still have to have good boundaries and bulls*** detectors though.

    I can't agree with you more. I left ED nursing for personal reasons at the time but I still needed the emergency excitement thus I went to work in a prison on nights. In the 7 years I was there I can count on one hand how many times I was disrespected. Anyone who did lost priveleges. No one ever hit me spit on me,threw things at me,yelled or threatened me. I was never treated like a maid or servant either. If they had to wait they waited. If they got their sick call cancelled (such as I left for an emergency run) then so be it. Hate to say it but some of the nicest people I have met were lifers.
    For the OP, being there I honed my assessment skills and my telephone triage skills because you learn quickly that the prison is a very very litigious group, screw up and you will be sued. I did sick call for the Max Security inmates and the minimum security inmates as well as controlled all the other correctional facilities and hallway houses for the state (total about 2700 people ) I had to decide if that inmate with a fever was safe to go back to the unit. Or if that inmate with back pain could go back to work. If I felt they needed further care I set them up for appointments with the MDS, I had decide how serious the complaint was and if it could wait. I had to decide if the inmate could be treated in my infirmary of need more care in a hospital. I also had to decide only by phone if a pt could come to see me which would mean a 2 hour trip for the officers or the patient was to go to the nearest hospital. I also learned quickly who was faking it because your life and the lives of fellow officers depended on it. (faking sick was the easiest way of escaping). I worked alone 3 nights a week out of five the other two nights I worked with one other person. On day shift there were MDs around and the infirmerys in the other places opened their doors so there was less critical decision making. I am saying I because that is what I did when I was on But that is what every night nurse did when they were on as well. Basically at least in our facilty nurses were responsible for most of the inmates medical care. We may have had some nurses who were jerks and did very stupid things but the majority were very competant nurses. None of our patients died and while some nurses were sued by inmates the inmate never won. So the courts must have thought they were competant as well. Sure there are bad places to work even bad nurses and bad prisons but by no means the majority. I am now back in the ED so prison was not my final stay,and I say the same thing about the hospitals I have worked. To make a blanketed general statement like you did is wrong.

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