How did you come to work in corrections?

  1. Just curious of our group here what led you to corrections. It's certainly a challenging field of nursing (but aren't they all!) It seems several of the nurses I know in real life started in psych first and that has been a great preparation.
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  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   renerian
    I never did corrections and I have posted before I think anyone that does is very brave. I was fingerprinted for work once at a prison and it gave me the creeps. I guess I am a whimp......

    renerian
  4. by   Orca
    The whole thing was rather ironic. I had a career in corrections (almost 16 years worth) in other areas before going into nursing. I got into nursing to get out of corrections.

    The corrections job I currently hold started out as a per diem job. At the time I started in corrections, I was already working per diem on a geropsych unit at a local hospital, and was looking for a way to supplement my hours. An ad in the paper for a per diem position with the Nevada Department of Corrections caught my eye, and I worked an average of two shifts per month. A full-time offer was made about 90 days later. I got tired of paying out of pocket for my benefits (although I liked the flexibility that pure per diem gave me). The hospital offered me full-time also, but at about $7 per hour below my per diem rate, and a lot more work. The decision was easy in the end.

    As for being fingerprinted...I had to go down to the Las Vegas Police Department to be fingerprinted for the background check for my Nevada nursing license. Getting printed at the prison was no different.
    Last edit by Orca on Apr 23, '03
  5. by   Chiaramonte
    My husband and I actually interviewed for RN jobs at a maximum security prison in Upstate NY some years ago. We were lured by the pay and benefits.

    We would be employed in the high risk area. While there they enacted a lock down because some dissent among the prisoners was erupting.

    We never took the jobs because of the safety risks but also I realized I was somewhat claustrophobic when I realized that I had to unlock so many doors to get out of there. It felt like a maze. The prisoners who were there were catcalling and chattering their teeth. Spooked the heck out of me!

    I do admire those of you who can do that kind of work under those conditions.
  6. by   JedsMom
    I was a cop before I went to college to become a RN. I spent a few years in the ER after school and a short time in SICU. When the job came up for a Health Services Director for our local Sheriff's Office I gave it a shot. I will have been here 9 years now in June. It really doesn't bother me to work in a jail setting. Every day is an experience Anyway, how many 9-5 jobs are there in nursing with weekends and holidays off Pretty sweet some times, a pain at others. Just like anywhere I guess.
  7. by   Orca
    NightMoon, I can understand your apprehension. A correctional setting isn't for everyone. Some people are chilled to the bone when those steel doors clang shut. As for me, I have spent most of my working life behind locked doors, in either mental health or correctional units. I suppose that I have become desensitized to it.

    As for the catcalls and noise, they often go with the territory. Last night, I passed medication on the administrative segregation and disciplinary units. On one of the units (and in one quad in particular), the inmates were yelling and kicking doors. Some were yelling insults. I just smiled and shook my head.

    I have very few problems with inmates. About 90 percent of the job is carrying yourself in a professional manner, and refusing to be drawn into a battle of words with the few who give you problems. I am usually bringing inmates something they want and, unlike in a hospital setting, I don't have to regard inmates as customers and try to placate them if they become verbally abusive.
  8. by   Chiaramonte
    "I am usually bringing inmates something they want and, unlike in a hospital setting, I don't have to regard inmates as customers and try to placate them if they become verbally abusive."...Orca

    I never thought about it that way Orca...hmmmm interesting!!...no, don't think so...not for me!!

    Still can't get rid of that apprehensive feeling being verbally abused...kudos to you Orca, you're my hero!!!
  9. by   Orca
    Actually, you don't take much in the way of abuse. In most cases, it goes something like this.

    Officer escorts inmate in. Inmate starts copping attitiude, demanding a certain type of treatment, complaining about how long he has had to wait before being seen, etc.

    "Mr. (name), I will be glad to help you if we can discuss this calmly."

    Inmate continues to jaw and gripe.

    "You have one more chance to state your problem."

    Inmate continues griping.

    (Nurse to officer)"Get this guy out of here. This visit is over."

    Officer escorts inmate to holding cell, then back to his unit.

    You are never left alone with an inmate, and you are always in control of what happens and when.

    Maybe this is a bit less fearsome.
  10. by   JedsMom
    Originally posted by Orca
    Actually, you don't take much in the way of abuse. In most cases, it goes something like this.

    Officer escorts inmate in. Inmate starts copping attitiude, demanding a certain type of treatment, complaining about how long he has had to wait before being seen, etc.

    "Mr. (name), I will be glad to help you if we can discuss this calmly."

    Inmate continues to jaw and gripe.

    "You have one more chance to state your problem."

    Inmate continues griping.

    (Nurse to officer)"Get this guy out of here. This visit is over."

    Officer escorts inmate to holding cell, then back to his unit.

    You are never left alone with an inmate, and you are always in control of what happens and when.

    Maybe this is a bit less fearsome.
    OH YEAH!!! And the officer happily escorts him outa there
  11. by   teeituptom
    I went to work in corrections as I got busted
    ha ha ha ha
  12. by   TerriRene
    Hi All:
    I have been a nurse for 18 years and have worked in many different areas(Labor and Delivery, NICU, Med-Surg, Nursing Home, Psych, Newborn Nursery, Home Health) and decided that I wanted an area in which I could use all of my skills and enjoy the challenge of doing so. I decided to try correctional nursing againist the advice of my family and they still think that I am crazy to like it. But to be honest I LOVE IT! I worked in the past within a psychiatric locked unit and to be honest the correctional setting is very similar as you are locked in with some patients who are mentally unstable and who would not hesitate to harm you if given the chance. Also, many of the inmates are VERY, VERY manipulative. I am a 5'4" 110 pound (OK, OK you have pressed me!! I am really 125 pounds) female. I have never been attacked but I learned real quickly how to set very firm limits and to always be on my guard with inmates and to remember that safety comes first.
  13. by   PINKYE1
    I was previously a correctional supervisor in Ca state prison and had to leave due to illness. I missed it so much I am currently in the process of re-instating into the system. Say what you will, but I'll take the correctional setting any day. Wonderful benefits, much safer than in the outside world (officers all around and no worries about being shot at, etc. by some loony off the street), less work, stress and better pay. Either you love it or you hate it. Patients are manipulative everywhere and in the correctional setting you DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THEIR RELATIVES. No phones ringing, patients demanding this and that, or having to constantly defend your every move. Do your job and go home. Also, you're off the same 2 days every week (plan a life anyone?), 13 PAID holidays, and all sorts of other benefits. I'll stay in the correctional setting, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!
  14. by   Orca
    One of the concerns expressed by those who are apprehensive about correctional nursing is personal safety. Pinkye1 summed it up: officers all around. Unlike the hospital setting, if someone happened to make a move toward you, they get taken down.

    I can also identify with the comment about not having to deal with relatives. Some of my worst experiences in nursing have come from dealing with families who believe they know better than both the doctors and the medical staff, and want to argue every minor point with you.

    If an inmate argues, you send him packing, and he doesn't get what he came for. Very simple. Consequently, I have very few problems with inmates.

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