Department of Corrections Nurse

  1. Hi All,

    Hi all, just wondering if there are any Department of Corrections (DOC) nurses out there and how do you like it and have you worked somewhere else before and how does it compare to the DOC. I'm interested in it, but at the same time a little bit nervous , and as a new graduate would you recommend working there first or get more experience? All are welcome..

  2. Visit MdjRN2011 profile page

    About MdjRN2011

    Joined: May '10; Posts: 8
    RN; from NC , US
    Specialty: 2 year(s) of experience in Orthopedics


  3. by   Esme12
    I have not worked corrections but I would suggest you gain some experience ( at least a year if not longer) before you enter the system. I actually suggest you have 1 year med-surg and at least one year ED. Depending on what level of corrections federal, municipal or local and what "local" jail you choose. I have a good idea that for the most part you need some basic competency and an ability to prioritize and react/treat and be a first responder to emergencies.

    Good luck
  4. by   iggyEDRN
    I have to agree completely with Esme12. One of our ER docs also works as a correctional facility doc, and he says it is crucial to be able to keep your cool and weed out the BS. You are "it" as far as a response team goes (at least until EMS arrives), so it helps to be experienced with emergency situations.
    Other than that, I have heard that it can be a very interesting and rewarding position. Hope someone with more firsthand experience is able to chime in for you
  5. by   MarieYee
    Both of my sister's work in Corrections, though not as nurses. They say the male population is easier to deal with.
  6. by   amnash
    I just started in a corrections facility and I'm scared to death, not of the prisoners but of screwing up with medicine or not making right call when going on run or screwing up on paperwork. I have 6 months ER experience I'm a new nurse( less then a year) They are severly understaffed 1 LVN (sometimes 2) 1 RN on nights. 3000 inmates. Anybody else feel this way when first starting out?
  7. by   victorians35
    @ amnash, your Job sounds dangerous. That is way to many offenders for 3 nurses. I work with women offenders and we have a population of 3000 and we have 10-12 nurses on day shift 8 at night and 2 overnight. And we are all moving ALL day. The female offenders are very needy and with many of them only staying for a short sentence the revolving door keeps bringing new in and sending old out. We deal with so many "real" health issues due to the lack of money, insurance or concern from the patients on the "outs." I have been a nurse in corrections for several years and I really Love the job. It is so different then the nursing home which is to be expected but so many different challenges you face. With med administration you have patients cheeking there medication, patients faking injuries, faking seizures, lying and manipulating, it is a challenge to figure out which ones really need the care and which ones are using the system. I have seen prison save life's to Dx, cancer, Diabetes, HTN. All things that went unnoticed before the patients were locked up. So many people were not ever taught basic life skills which include simple hygiene techniques. There can be a lot of bad attitude but in return so many are so thankful to have someone actually listen to there health concerns and treat them with a bit of respect. There is a fine line that must be drawn to enforce rules and "get tough" and give appropriate care. Always staying profession is the key and never look up why the patient is locked up. You never want that in the back of your mind when treating a patient. Every day is a challenge however with good work rapier with your fellow nursing staff and correctional staff a job well done can be achieved.
  8. by   chulada77
    3 nurses with 3000 inmates is not horrible depending upon your population; it you are working at a facility that tends to get your general pop then it may be ok esp. if the institute has some protocol about how i/m are using sick call, etc. I work in a facility that has all the chronic sick, dialysis, cancer, infectious diseases, HIV, seizure, insulin dependant inmates so our ratio nurse/inmate is higher. The inmates that are general pop don't really seem to come to medical, it's our "frequent flyer" inmates that make the need for medical staff higher.
  9. by   jjacobsrn
    Quote from RNnthemaking
    Hi All,

    Hi all, just wondering if there are any Department of Corrections (DOC) nurses out there and how do you like it and have you worked somewhere else before and how does it compare to the DOC. I'm interested in it, but at the same time a little bit nervous , and as a new graduate would you recommend working there first or get more experience? All are welcome..

    I work in Corrections (CA) and believe new grads should not jump into Corrections. Once you get here, it is hard to leave. Your skills become limited and paperwork is a focus. I do enjoy parts of my job, but wish I had done more acute care. (I had 6 years of ER) I am now not as desired an applicant because I have been out of Acute Care for a while. I am stuck. However, the good thing to think of is that you can for sure retire in 20 years. (You can do that anywhere if you are diligent about your retirement... its just that the State seems to make it easier). HTH Good luck.
  10. by   deyo321
    Just so this is clear; I am not a first responder, corrections is. I am on the scene only after a successful lockdown and security ok. Many of our Officers are EMT's, ex-, or current military and firefighters. They are extremely well trained and in emergencies I have no problem being part of a team and appreciate what they bring to the table. Some have more emergency background than I and I am always glad when they are with me at codes.

    I am lucky where I work. Check out the facility because just from reading here you iwll see that there are vast differences.
  11. by   dalgal
    I'm a new grad LPN and have been working at an all male prison for just about two months. I specifically chose to work in corrections for the experience because where I live, LPNs are somewhat limited to nursing homes and home health. I wanted to get some variety in experience -- and I have! We do blood draws, first aid type calls, basic sick slips, some assessment, intakes, and are learning to do I.V.s so, for me, it has fit the bill for a first job. It's also a job with a great deal of autonomy so if you don't want someone breathing down your neck all the's great! The facility, although understaffed, seems to be very patient focused and well organized and I'm extremely happy to be there! I agree that having little experience can put you at a disadvantage in emergencies if you aren't comfortable with first responder duties, however, I'm pretty confident and can handle it so far.
  12. by   ChuckeRN
    In a perfect world, every new nurse would be able to get m/s experience, then go into a specialty. BUT, as a NG, I couldn't even get a call back, a State prison is where I landed. I've been there for 1 1/2 months now and I love it. The emergency protocols lack depth, but aside from that, it's just like any other ER.

    Our prison has ~5300 male inmates from level 2 to level 4 custody inmates (Level 5 being max, max level).

    I work in the medical hub which is like the ER of the prison and on weekends, I am only 1 of 2 nurses in the hub. Yesterday, we responded to 3 or 4 emergencies on the yard including 2 suicide attempts. There are pill nurses around and they do help out when they can, but it is the hub nurses that are the first responders. I try and always be a first responder as it makes the day more interesting and the time go much faster.

    At no time have I EVER been in a situation where I was afraid for my safety. There is always enough COs around and if there aren't, then you don't go into that situation, or you just leave. We are allowed to do that. It's been stressed to us that OUR safety is #1, and the inmate that is bleeding out, or is hanging is waaaaay down the list.
  13. by   MdjRN2011
    thanks everyone this was so helpful, i made up my mind to get a couple of years experience in hte hopsital before thinking about going a different route, i want to be marketable!
  14. by   libran84
    I'm an LPN. I graduated in Oct 2010. My first job was working for Correctional Medical Services (CMS), now known as Corizon. The job allowed me, as an LPN, to focus to the maximum extent of my licensure and while I thought on the job training was poor and everything was sink or swim, I learned immensely valuable assessment skills and gained great experience in Emergency Nursing and Trauma.

    9 months into the job, I applied to a local hospital for a highly coveted ER LPN position. Thanks to choosing a Correctional setting over a LTC setting, I won the position and was told I had the most appropriate resume for the job. Things I hi-lited were my ability to handle the unexpected and I provided the example: A signal 3000 was called (an internal health emergency) and I ran myself and the crash cart over to South Dorm and discovered it wasn't an offender who was injured but rather a correctional officer who passed out. I then continued on discussing how I took control of the situation and began sending officers out of the crowded room by assigning them tasks to assist, instead of just taking up space and hindering my assessment by distraction.

    I discussed how I handled minor trauma such as nosebleeds, heat exhaustion, and lacerations.

    I discussed my experience with TB and MRSA, hi-lighting my education in the matter.

    I further discussed my ability to empathize and still maintain a professional relationship with a combative and often misunderstood population with psychological issues.

    When the interview concluded and I was asked if I had any questions I posed this to the managers. "What do you consider good customer service?" and I could tell I gave them a question no one had asked them before. It was great to leave on a thought provoking note.

    While my prison was poorly ran, I do not regret the opportunity it gave me and was highly preferable over a long term care environment. I think I'm a much better nurse now because of it. A