My California CDC experiences thus far. - page 3

by EnigmaticParadigm

Hello all, Well, where to start? I am a recent "new grad" who got my foundation in the ICU. I learned all the basics, mastered content, delved into the science, and came out alive. However, I wasn't very content. My... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from adam90803
    Sheri257 - Thanks for the extra information. Very interesting. I guess I'll just be patient, cross my fingers and hope for the best...get some ER experience, etc., and hope I can get hired some day in corrections.
    From what I've seen, they tend to hire nurses with experience in these three areas: corrections, psych and ER/critical care.

    Obviously corrections experience helps because they don't want to go to the trouble of hiring someone who's going to freak out working with inmates. Strange as it may seem, we still have some new hires who somehow think they shouldn't have to work with inmates. They want the money but, don't want to get their hands dirty, so to speak.

    Psych is huge in corrections, and the state is planning on expanding their mental health faciltiies so they also tend to hire psych nurses, especially nurses who have already worked for state criminal psych facilities. As previously mentioned, lots of people who already work for the state transfer from mental health so, that's another way to potentially get your foot in the door.

    Emergency/Critical Care: Even though you're mostly dealing with minor ailments like athlete's foot, triaging is the most important thing you do. For example, you get lots of inmates who complain of chest pain and most of it's bogus but, I did have an inmate this week with a nasty EKG, ST elevations, etc. who had to go to the hospital.

    I was planning on getting experience in all three areas and working at least two jobs because, you never know where the openings are. If they need a nurse in mental health at the time but are already fully staffed in the TTA/ER then, that experience might not help you as much ... just as an example.

    However, they also tend to move people around a lot because people call out sick, go on vacation, etc. One week you might be filling in at mental health, another week you might be triaging so ... that's another reason why experience in all three areas would probably increase your hiring chances.
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Jul 28, '07
  2. 0
    Quote from richardjboro1
    fascinating discussion thus far. I'm a nursing student and interested in all critical areas, such as ER/ICU, but haven't really considered prisons until recently. The pay does sound tempting but the work sounds downright intriguing at this point. I'll be interested to see the continuation of this thread.

    Richard
    Well ... I've discovered that this job can be pretty stressful. If you're working on one of the yards, you typically see up to 20 inmates a day plus there's always a bunch of other stuff that comes up: inmates get into fights and you have to assess them for injuries and do all the paperwork on that. There's usually other inmates who need routine wound care, etc. Then there's the chest pains all of the other so-called "emergencies" that have to be checked out. 90 percent of it is bogus but, you've got to constantly be on the look out for that 10 percent that really needs immediate medical attention.

    I've had inmates who were disciplinary problems that I had to write up and get sent to the hole. Then I've had staff who stupidly let inmates into the office without custody present ... so I had to write them up. Some of the LVN's really resent you because you make a lot more money they do so that causes a lot of tension and a potentially difficult working environment.

    Basically as the RN, you're running that office so everybody from the MD to the techs are coming to you with their problems. So you're also dealing with a lot of office politics. As soon as you walk into the yard, the inmates are screaming for your attention and they're constantly trying to get into medical without appointments so, you've constantly got to control and manage the situation so you can get things done but, at the same time, not miss the really sick inmates who do require your attention.
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Jul 29, '07
  3. 0
    Sheri,
    I couldn't have characterized the role of the RN with CDCR medical any better. You hit it on the head. The RN is the go to person whether you are in charge or not. The reigning opinion seems to be if we're making all that money, we should be available for every problem that arises, even if you have your own assignment. Supervising RN's make themselves scarce, meanwhile. Doctors and LVN's drop everything on your lap because they don't know what to do, but they figure you will because you are the almighty RN. It's an overwhelming, stressful, frustrating experience to say the least. A lot of responsibility (which can be awesome, but overwhelming, too). I have my good days and bad, but the pay, benefits, and experience are just too good right now to let go of. I lament how I'm able to get any work done some days with all the interruptions (man downs, LVN's/Doctors/correctional officers requesting assistance, staff bickering, phones ringing off the hook, SRN's shoveling their work off on you, staff injuries, inmate fights). There is more work than people to handle daily occurrences. I dread the thought of a riot occurring in the middle of all of this because it will be the straw that breaks the camels' back, I am afraid. You are not alone. Good luck to you.

    Shell
    Last edit by shell911rn on Jul 31, '07
  4. 0
    Quote from shell911rn
    I lament how I'm able to get any work done some days with all the interruptions (man downs, LVN's/Doctors/correctional officers requesting assistance, staff bickering, phones ringing off the hook, SRN's shoveling their work off on you, staff injuries, inmate fights). There is more work than people to handle daily occurrences. I dread the thought of a riot occurring in the middle of all of this because it will be the straw that breaks the camels' back, I am afraid. You are not alone. Good luck to you.

    Shell
    Since I've been working for CDCR, they've moved me around quite a bit (to fill on for people on vacation, calling out sick, etc.) and one thing I've learned is that some yards/units are definitely better staffed and more controlled than others.

    If the inmates are on a yard where they have a lot of privileges and are walking around with more freedom, it's basically a nightmare for medical because they're always bugging you to see them, knocking on the windows, doors, etc. Afterall ... where are most of the women located? Medical. On the outside, everybody wants to get out of the hospital asap. But in prison, medical is the place to be. Some of them will fake chest pain just so they'll get an EKG and be touched by a woman.

    But when I work on a yard where the inmates are more restricted, it's usually (although not always) a better situation. I've also learned a lot of it depends on the design of that yard/unit and the custody protocols. The hole, obviously, has more controlled security but, if the building design is such that they can yell to each other and communicate across the tiers then, that's exactly what they'll do ... and it gets really noisy. But if the building design is such that the cells are more isolated then, it's really quiet and much easier to work.

    Then there's other units where the inmates ... no matter what their custody level is ... are handcuffed and shackled, period, when they are brought over to medical. So, it's still busy, but much more controlled ... making the job a lot easier.

    I'm not too worried about riots because, at least from what I've seen, every time there's a fight or whatever the CO's put it down so fast you don't even have a chance to see what's happened. The alarm goes off, and by the time you look up the inmate is already on the ground within seconds. The CO's for the most part do a really good job, at least at my facility.
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Aug 2, '07
  5. 1
    I had my interview at one of the CDC facilities in Jan., 2 weeks ago they called and offered the job - pending TB test and Background check, I called back and
    left message immediately - that I accepted it, and please let me know the
    procedures of TB test and Physical exam. They never returned my call,
    anyone knows how long does it take for background check ? do they tell
    you the physical exam stuff after the background check ? do they notify
    you by mail ? Thanks in advance, I am really anxious and nervous.
    woknblues likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from lovemaui
    I had my interview at one of the CDC facilities in Jan., 2 weeks ago they called and offered the job - pending TB test and Background check, I called back and
    left message immediately - that I accepted it, and please let me know the
    procedures of TB test and Physical exam. They never returned my call,
    anyone knows how long does it take for background check ? do they tell
    you the physical exam stuff after the background check ? do they notify
    you by mail ? Thanks in advance, I am really anxious and nervous.

    Howdy,

    Would you mind if I asked what your stats are?

    How long ago you wrote the internet "exam"?
    Your score in percent?
    Facility (or region?)

    I am talking to a guy who says the bg check is fast, like less than a week. I believe they call you. Make sure your information is all correct!

    Regards and congrats on the job.
  7. 0
    Quote from EnigmaticParadigm
    Hello all,

    Well, where to start? I am a recent "new grad" who got my foundation in the ICU. I learned all the basics, mastered content, delved into the science, and came out alive. However, I wasn't very content.

    My fiance' works at a state prison here in CA in accounting; therefore, she saw how much all the different categories of employees made. She mentioned one day how much Registered Nurse - Correction Facility nurses made. I just about fell out of my chair. Working in the ICU I made $24.75 per hour as a new grad (plus 10% for weekends and an additional 10% for nights). So, working a weekend night 12 hour shift would gross me about $348.00. Take that a step further and go beyond the standard three-day work week and add in an addtional day: comes to about $1300.00 for the week --> $5200.00 per month. Keep in mind, this amount is for working 48 hours.

    Now, due to the Plata vs. Davis lawsuit (which carried over to Arnold), inmates in the state of California were awarded many more rights concerning their health, dental, and psychological care. The state of healthcare in the CDC was so poor, that a special position was created in Sacramento to oversee CDC healthcare for the next 5 years or so; this was done to prevent the Federal government and Bureau of Prisons from taking over CDC healthcare.

    Fast-forward to October 2006. This newly appointed government official started to clean house in a big way. However, the stigma of correctional nursing being only for "nurses who suck" was powerful. This official had to overcome this stereotype in order to bring in strong nurses. And the best way to do that? You got it: money. Therefore, most new RN hires are brought on under "Plata positions" and they are VERY well compensated. The starting wage for a Registered Nurse, Correctional Facility (Plata position) is from $7045.00 to $8100.00 per month. Let that soak in a moment.

    So, let's break this down. Taking the "step A" wage of $7045.00 per month for 40 hours worked, it comes out to be just over $44.00 per hour. This is working five 8 hour shifts with two consecutive days off in a row. Instead of working either day or night shift at the hospital, you have the choice of three shifts, or "watches." These run from 6am - 2pm (second watch), 2pm - 10pm (third watch), and 10pm -6am (first watch). So, not only do CDC RNs make $19.25 more per hour, they gross more than a RN working at the local hospital who worked 5 days in a week; a total of 60 hours (depending on which hospital's overtime calculation you are going off of).

    But wait, it gets more interesting: overtime.

    You want overtime at the CDC? You got it...in boatloads. Sometimes you are actually stopped at the gate and told to report back to your unit in order to do another 8 hour shift. Some may hate this, others may like it; it's all personal preference I suppose. Want to pick up some extra overtime? No problem. Many live for the chance of overtime, but many more want to go home at the end of their shift. I'm in the boat of people that love overtime. This is how overtime works (basically):

    You don't have to wait until you are over 40 hours for overtime to kick in. If you work over your 8 hour shift, you automatically begin overtime hours. Overtime at CDC is time-and-a-half. This works out to be roughly $66.00 an hour. Now, let's compare again:

    Hospital day:
    12 hours x $24.75 = $297.00

    Hospital overtime day (assuming overtime = "double-time"):
    12 hours x ($24.75 x 2) = $594.00

    CDC regular day:
    8 hours x $44.00 = $352.00

    CDC overtime day:
    (8 hours x $44.00) + (8 hours x $66.00) = $800.00

    This may not be a true "apples-to-apples" comparison due to the fact that the hospital worker is working a 12 hour shift, while the CDC worker is working a 16 hour shift. But, here is where the fun comes in...

    Let's say I work M-F from 6am to 2pm. This is a standard 40 hour workweek at CDC. For doing this every week in a pay period, I will gross $7045.00 per month. Now, let's add in two days of overtime shifts. Remember, that is two 8 hour shifts at $66.00 per hour. So, combine the 40 hour week at $44.00 per hour with the 16 hours of overtime at $66.00 per hour, you get $2816.00 per week; now, multiply that by 4 weeks = $11264.00 per month for working a 60 hour week for 4 weeks.

    Working a 60 hour week at the hospital (5 twelve hour shifts) makes approximately $1960.00 per week; again, multiply that by 4 weeks = $7920.00.

    So, the difference, in raw hours worked (with overtime figured in) is approximately $3344.00 per month in favor of the CDC RN. Let's take it a step further again just for fun.

    Yearly gross hospital worker income on 60 hours worked per week:
    $95040.00

    Yearly gross CDC worker income on 60 hours worked per week:
    $135,168.00

    Total difference:
    $40,128 per year

    Pumped yet? Need more info? Good , continue to read on.

    Oops, forgot to mention the $4500.00 sign-on bonus.

    Okay, so what is the application process like? Well, first you have to register on the Ca state website and take a "test." It's not even really a test; more like a survey of what you have done within the last 6 months or so. After completing the test, you get an immediate grade which then ranks you against everyone else in Ca applying for the job. There are a total of 14 ranks (I think) and CDC usually only pulls applicants for interviews out of the top 3 ranks. As it stands now, there is roughly 3000 to 4000 people who are ranked for interviews in the entire state. So, you basically have to wait your turn to be interviewed. This process took about four months for me. When I tested, I ranked 4 out of 14.

    Then one day I got a call to come in for an interview. I arrived and had to answer questions in front of a panel of three interviewers. After the interview, about two weeks passed until they started to call for references (keep in mind that the CDC will usually only call for reference checks if they are thinking of hiring). After that round of waiting, I received a call one week later with the job offer pending a TB test, physical, and DOJ/FBI background check.

    So, with all of that out of the way, I was hired. So, time from completing the online test to starting my first day at worked took about 4 months (your mileage may vary). At the prison I was applying for, they were hiring a total of 14 new RNs and interviewed approximately 150 applicants.

    I'm a little tired tonight to type out what my days are like, so I will continue this thread at a later date. Needless to say, I LOVE my job. I love going to work, I love working overtime, and I love the excitement, challenge, responsibility, and the compensation. I didn't even mention the retirement, benefits, etc which are equally spectacular (safety retirement rules).

    So, if you are curious about going into a career in correctional nursing, reply to this thread and I will answer what I can from my experience. It was the best choice I've ever made.

    To be continued...
    funny, nothing was mentioned about the work environment and the inherent danger working with inmates.
  8. 0
    thanks for giving some more detailed info regarding this type of job... beyond the financial aspect of it.


Top