Correctional Nursing Pros/Con and Environment - page 2

by SLC2012

11,383 Visits | 22 Comments

So I'm a recent graduate and have a RN job possibility in a state correctional facility. I was just looking for advice from others on experiences of working with this given population. We went on a tour during my last semester of... Read More


  1. 1
    Definitely pros and cons about working in the correctional system. Ive been working for the past 8 years in the correctional system and absolutely love it. Never a dull moment!! Each day is different!! I guess the main reason I love it so much is the autonomy, the ability for the RN to make clinical decisions and to be respected...The negatives-attempting to work within a correctional system that is focussed on security and not health, the environment isn't for everyone-can be tough to deal with the aftermath of inmate on inmate (Or correctional officer) violence, dealing with inmates convicted of horrid crimes (pedophiles/rapists/murderers)-whilst remaining professional.
    Overall, Ive met many people and made lots of friends amongst the correctional officers and other nurses I have worked with. The nursing experience you gain in the correctional environment is unique and will follow you into any other area of nursing. Good luck
    Two Sheds likes this.
  2. 1
    I have been in corrections for about 1.5 years in both medical and psych. I do like the autonomy and the fact that most patients/inmates do respond to being treated with sincere gratitude. Yes, they do lie, but no more so than folks I have encountered on a regular med-surg floor. The key thing is to realize that letting them get you angry or insulted is a form of "intimacy". That is strictly forbidden and many corrections nurses seem to forget that that aspect exists. They are my patients, they have few choices of their own autonomy they can take. The worst is refusal of meds, it harms them but I have to understand that is one of the only ways they feel they have "control" over their prison experience and work from there. Most times you can reason with them but often, not. I just do the best I can within the scope of my practice and give the best care I can, just as I would in ANY nursing situation. I love my job, it has been the most fulfilling one I have had yet, including, mom-baby, ante-partum, surgical, med-surg, and clinic. I have worked for private, public, state, and federal institutions and have loved them all but this is the best fit for me.
    Two Sheds likes this.
  3. 5
    You must understand that some RNs, myself included, actually WANTED to go into corrections as a first choice. I figured out during my last semester of nursing school that I would rather tear up my license than to work in a hospital environment, and that I would rather have a nursing job "off the beaten path," so to speak. The very first place I applied was the correctional facility where I am now working. I have been here almost 3 years and I love it. I cannot begin to make up some of the funny things I have seen! It's not for everyone--certainly not the faint of heart--but please do not insinuate that any RN who works in corrections is "settling."
    TriciaJ, RetrieverGirl, Everline, and 2 others like this.
  4. 1
    I had an initial interview at a state prison Friday which went well. They have emailed me back saying they want me to come back for another interview and a tour of the facility. I got my LPN license in August 2013 so I actually haven't been job searching all that long. This will be my first job as a nurse but I have four solid years working as a nurse's aide in a large hospital where we deal with psych patients, drug and alcohol abuse, med surg patients etc. This will be working for a private company so it won't be a state employee job - all of the prisons and jails in the state where I live are privatized. Anything special I should know going into this? I'd like to hear from some of you out there who have worked in corrections for a while and are liking it

    PS: I have actually been a member of allnurses since 2008 under a different name so I can say that I've gotten some good advice and insights form this forum over the years. I first joined when I became a nursing student, and I an still in school in an LPN to BSN program. If it turns out that I like corrections nursing I may end up being an RN in the prison system. We'll see how it goes. (Had a password/username issue with my othet acct and found it was easier just to start a new one :***:
    .
    Last edit by LPN Guy on Dec 22, '13 : Reason: more info
    TriciaJ likes this.
  5. 2
    I have been a RN for 20 years and have worked in various settings. After spending 11 years doing med/surg/telemetry, I moved to the ED, which I absolutely love. Recently, I decided to take a part time job at the county jail (I still work in the ED), and I love it. In some ways it is like a breath of fresh air. I see many of the same people that I see at in ER, but usually they are a little better behaved in the jail setting. I don't have to worry about press ganey scores if I say the "wrong" thing. I am a big stickler on boundaries and personal space, and I am able to make it perfectly clear without worrying about offending anyone. Also, we have had a rash of violence against nurse in the ER, and so far, it appears to be a bit safer at the jail (sees ironic, doesn't it). I also find that there is less physical stuff at the jail, and at this point in my career that is a plus. It is nice to go home in the evening without that horrible feeling of frustration that the happens when I work at the ER. I'm not quite ready to give up the ER just yet, but I can see me making a move to full time corrections in the future.
    TriciaJ and katkonk like this.
  6. 0
    Correctional nursing, I thought there would be more violence in the Jail than ER. =0

    I definitely bet the population you treat there have committed some serious offences, I learned in my criminology class that one still must be empathic and let go of judgements you may have in regards to offenders in order to provide any type of service whether that is in the role of a guard or nurse.
  7. 2
    In the jail, I am surrounded by correctional officers. Inmate movement is monitored and boundaries are clearly established. Also, every inmate is searched before entering (although I am sure some get away with contraband). In the ER, people just come in from the street. They are patients first. They are not searched at the door and we are not accompanied by security when we go into rooms. As we are dealing with patients, we must be careful not to offend. Certainly boundaries can and should be established, but not in such a way as to offend the patient. I am sure that violence against nurses occurs in corrections also. It occurs in every aspect of nursing. It just seems to me that corrections has a few more safeguards to prevent it. I'm still loving the ER though. And loving my jail time.
    TriciaJ and katkonk like this.
  8. 0
    I have done over 5 years of correctional nursing. I recently quit my correctional nursing for traveling correctional nursing. Each facility is run different. Correctional nursing is hard but rewarding in its own way. I left an very dysfunctional medical unit in New Haven Michigan . Most nurses who have experienced the prison I worked for would tell me that the prison I worked in was run very badly. This came from nurses who worked at different prisons and ended up at Detroit Prison for one reason or another We had nurses fighting with nurses on top of having to deal with the inmates . Its hard for me to work for someone I know that I don't have any respect for so after 2.7 years at this one prison I decided to move on . I look forward to the new prison that I will be working in I would not give up on corrections because of one bad apple
  9. 1
    I have worked in various correctional settings, it was probably my favorite place to work. I liked the autonomy & the wide range of skills used. I would definitely go back after I get my RN. But it is not for everyone. I know my best friend who has her RN wouldn't do well as a correctional nurse. It also depends on the facility & how medical is run. There has always been a rift been medical & corrections/security. The last correctional institute I worked at was so filled with drama I was SO glad to leave!
    Grace404 likes this.
  10. 0
    Well the positive thing is if you don't like where your at, you only have 13 weeks and you can move on.


Top