Correctional Nursing - A Multi-Tasked Specialty Area for Nurses

by sirI Admin

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The Correctional Nurse wears many faces. They are primary care nurses, security nurses and in some correctional facilities, the nurse dealing with those who are critically ill. It takes a special type of individual to take on these tasks without prejudice, remain impartial, and treat the inmate humanely. This type of nursing is not for everyone for the Nurse must keep their personal feelings at home. They must not cross borders (ethically) and see that the inmate gets the best possible nursing care available.

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    Correctional Nursing - A Multi-Tasked Specialty Area for Nurses

    Nursing in and of itself is not an easy job and as the years progress, the job of the Nurse becomes even more difficult.

    Those who select Correctional Nursing are stepping into a brand new world. There is no comparison when discussing this specialty and in my opinion, only contrast.

    The correctional inmate is a human being deserving of the finest care that can be given them. And, in most facilities, this is difficult as the nurse faces obstacles as they try to render the best possible care they can.

    Correctional Nurses must maintain acute abilities to remain sharp and fearless. They must stay abreast of the latest evidenced-based medical care available. They must deal with a variety of health care issues including, but not limited to:
    • HIV
    • Hepatitis
    • Cardiac Disease
    • Diabetes
    • TB
    • Mental Illness

    The nurse must, as stated, remain sharp and be able to recognize a true medical issue as opposed to the inmate who is malingering in order to get attention and manipulate the situation in an attempt to fake a medical condition causing the nurse to make very important decisions about what is occurring. Of course, the nurse has protocols to follow and must rely on his/her acute diagnostic abilities.

    I worked as a Nurse Practitioner in a facility where most of the inmates were are death row. I found this type of work interesting and actually had no difficulty with this type of patient. Working in the jail part of the facility, I did not like. I felt manipulated many times and realized this type of specialty area was not something that I could do.

    Many nurses feel used and manipulated as Correctional Nurses and some do not get the proper recognition they deserve as excellent Nurses who have the astute ability to handle this type of patient.

    During my research in this area, I found many LPNs (and RNs, but especially the former) who work in a Correctional Facility felt like they would not be able to secure another position in any other entity; hospitals, clinics, etc. In my opinion, the Nurse who works as a Correctional Nurse is valuable in other areas of nursing and as I said above, possess astute diagnostic skills. These Nurses should have no difficulty securing a position outside the Correctional Facility and their resume's/CVs should cover exactly the role they played, their detailed job description, etc.

    I do not want this Article to come off sounding like working as a Correctional Facility Nurse minimized. I want this Article to let everyone who reads this just how important this position is. It takes a very special person to render care to the correctional inmate. A person who is kind, compassionate, fearless, and stays abreast of all the policy and procedures of the facility as well as how to apply SOP and evidenced-based medicine as they render care.

    There are several sites where the nurse can access that will offer more detail about this specialty arae and see if this might be something you as a Nurse could make a difference dealing with this type of patient. One is The American Correctional Health Services Association. Others include: National Commission on Correctional Health Care, The International Association of Forensic Nurses as well as several others.

    My admiration goes out to the Correctional Facility Nurse.
    Last edit by Joe V on Dec 1, '13
    DawnJ, malamom, joanna73, and 3 others like this.
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    sirI joined Jun '05 - from 'allnurses.com'. sirI has 'many' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'APRN, LNC, Forensics, OB, ED, Education'. Posts: 86,002 Likes: 21,836; Learn more about sirI by visiting their allnursesPage


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    2 Comments so far...

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    Great article. I have done correctional nursing and it is not a walk in the park. My hats of to all the correctional nurses.
    joanna73, sirI, and traumaRUs like this.
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    Great article! I am a correctional nurse & I love it! Other than working in a hospital, I don't know where else I'd want to work.
    sirI, Jessy_RN, and traumaRUs like this.


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