Psychiatric RN position at a Correctional facility?

  1. Could anyone please tell me if they know of anyone that works as a psych RN at a correctional facility, what their job description is and what their salary is for that position? I am interested in pursuing a career in this area but am unsure as to what it entails. Your advise and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   fiestynurse
    Big demand for Psych RNs and NPs in Corrections. Unfortunately, jails and prisons have become our new treatment facilities for the mentally ill. Most of the nurses that I know who do this type of work really like it. They work with a great deal of automony. It is very challenging!
  4. by   cindyrn1
    Well I got my interview and I left feeling sort of bad about it. I didn't think they really liked me or something. Then the very next morning, they called me back to meet all the staff and the Regional manager of the Prison system. I felt this interview went really well and everyone was so nice and friendly. The manager gave me an employee handbook to bring home, read and sign all the papers, but has not offered me the job yet. He said that he had others to interview yet. Does it sound like I might have gotten the job based on what I have told you? I sure hope so because I love psych and I love working in Correctional nursing. Thanks for writing. You wouldn't happen to know what your friends salaries are would you? I just need a rough idea of what they are making so that I can quote my required salary (fairly). Thanks.
  5. by   fiestynurse
    I only know the salaries in California. ($25-35/hr) Is the facility privatized? What company will you be working for? Make sure that you ask about the orientation that you will receive. Let them know some of your past experiencies and what your learning needs are. Take it slow. Good luck!
    Last edit by fiestynurse on Mar 26, '04
  6. by   bukko
    You didn't seem to be getting too much response about prison psych nursing, so I'll add a bit about my experiences in Florida.
    I like psych, and the state prison in my county was the one where the Department of Corrections sent most of the inmates who attempted or threatened suicide, plus garden-variety crazies. (It was known as a "sick prison" because lots of HIV+ inmates who were too ill for the work camps wound up there, too.)
    Salary: I wasn't staff -- went while an LPN working for a temp agency that had a long-term arrangement with the prison. They couldn't keep enough state staff. I made $16.50 to $18 per hour, no benes. That was about what state employee RNs made. More than half the staff was agency because the prison personnel system treated its own employees so badly that they couldn't fill the positions. I don't know how your state is, but I'd bet money you'll have an easy time getting hired because of high turnover. I finally left when the state government hired a private company (with a reputation for cutting corners and not paying nurses on time) to run all the prison medical services.
    Working conditions: RNs did assessments on inmates transferred from other prisons and evaluated those who made suicide threats to determine if they were for real. (The psych "dorm" [sounds nicer than calling it a "cellblock"] was the only air-conditioned building in the merciless Florida heat, so inmates would cut themselves just to get inside for a few days.) As an LPN, I passed a lot of pills, psych and medical. The corrections officers (don't call 'em guards) would take us on the rounds through the locked units and we'd pass meds through the slots. (Stand to the side so they can't throw urine on you; keep your hands back so they can't grab.) Be prepared for lots of refused meds, cursing and exposed privates.
    Before taking such a job, you should check your own mental health. No, I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. It's just that the vibe of working in prison -- stinky screaming men, filled with hate, encased in steel -- will seep into your soul. When you're surrounded by thuggish mentalities (including the C.O.s, who are no angels) it WILL affect you. I've read your posts about getting blackballed. Prison psych work is not an easy choice for anyone who's emotionally fragile.
  7. by   cindyrn1
    Thank you so much for sharing with me what you went through or are currently going through. I have worked in the "corrections" field for about 8 years and know exactly what you are talking about. I worked in a maximum security forensic hospital and worked with the women! Talk about abuse on staff! In the Department of Mental Health there is virtually NO consequences for the patients actions against us as staff. I have so many injuries that you couldn't imagine. I will suffer the rest of my life with 3 herniated disc, a huge human bite scar on my calf, arthritis in both knees from hitting the concrete floors day after day. I have a workmans comp case that is still dragging on after a year for my back and knees. I will get compensated for my injuries it's just a matter of when they decide they will hear my case. They tried to tell me that there was no reason for all my pain and closed my case. But that's a whole other story. I know that the work that I am going to go into involves a lot of mental stress but I have been there and I can handle it. I am a very strong person and deal fairly well with the mentally ill. But the job that I am hopefully going to get will be working strictly with the psych patients in a all women's prison. I will get to see the other side of committments with the segregation, the going in the hole, conduct violations etc. I am not sure how I will see that as I have never seen a person punished for their actions. Sure I did massive amounts of restraints and seclusions but I have never seen mace used on a person or seen anyone being held in a cell for a month or longer. I won't miss the physical altercations at all. I look forward to being able to use my psychiatric experience to assist the patients no matter what their complaints are. I am 40 now and being "beat up" was just too much for me to take anymore and that is the only reason that I left the department of Mental Health. That and I didn't like the way they let so many things go that were wrong. I am going into this new job (I find out today if I got it or not) with a new attitude and a new outlook on my career. I tried medical surgical nursing for almost a year and I am no good at it. I tried so hard to fit in and work so hard, but I got let go from 2 places and I resigned from another one. I was just not meant to be a medical surgical nurse. But I sure appreciate your telling me what you have gone through being a correctional nurse. No matter what I do in corrections, will be so much better than what I have been through working in the hospital setting. If you have ever done that type of nursing you know how other nurses can treat you, the patient load, the medication passes, the numerous procedures you are required to do, the yelling of the doctors and the backstabbing and rumors that go on. I almost got an ulcer from being in that environment! Keep in touch okay! Have a wonderful day!








    Quote from bukko
    You didn't seem to be getting too much response about prison psych nursing, so I'll add a bit about my experiences in Florida.
    I like psych, and the state prison in my county was the one where the Department of Corrections sent most of the inmates who attempted or threatened suicide, plus garden-variety crazies. (It was known as a "sick prison" because lots of HIV+ inmates who were too ill for the work camps wound up there, too.)
    Salary: I wasn't staff -- went while an LPN working for a temp agency that had a long-term arrangement with the prison. They couldn't keep enough state staff. I made $16.50 to $18 per hour, no benes. That was about what state employee RNs made. More than half the staff was agency because the prison personnel system treated its own employees so badly that they couldn't fill the positions. I don't know how your state is, but I'd bet money you'll have an easy time getting hired because of high turnover. I finally left when the state government hired a private company (with a reputation for cutting corners and not paying nurses on time) to run all the prison medical services.
    Working conditions: RNs did assessments on inmates transferred from other prisons and evaluated those who made suicide threats to determine if they were for real. (The psych "dorm" [sounds nicer than calling it a "cellblock"] was the only air-conditioned building in the merciless Florida heat, so inmates would cut themselves just to get inside for a few days.) As an LPN, I passed a lot of pills, psych and medical. The corrections officers (don't call 'em guards) would take us on the rounds through the locked units and we'd pass meds through the slots. (Stand to the side so they can't throw urine on you; keep your hands back so they can't grab.) Be prepared for lots of refused meds, cursing and exposed privates.
    Before taking such a job, you should check your own mental health. No, I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. It's just that the vibe of working in prison -- stinky screaming men, filled with hate, encased in steel -- will seep into your soul. When you're surrounded by thuggish mentalities (including the C.O.s, who are no angels) it WILL affect you. I've read your posts about getting blackballed. Prison psych work is not an easy choice for anyone who's emotionally fragile.
  8. by   bukko
    Yikes! I never worked in a state mental hospital, just that prison, hospital psych wards and residential facilities. Compared to what you've been through, prison will be a breeze. Inside, there ARE consequences for inmates' actions. And sorry to sound callous, but when inmates mess up and don't get better, you don't have to care so much...
  9. by   walterrn
    I love this work. I get to keep my medical skills of assessment up. I get to be part-time nurse, part-time counselor. I get all the overtime I want or none at all. Iv'e been a psych in private hospitals and community based hospitals and I like this the best of all. AND since I'm a noc nurse, I dont have to deal with docs, majors or captains; AND with 2300 potential clients, I always have something to do (jail future is to increase to 5000 with funding).

    I'm being paid better than any other time in my 15+ yrs in psych and I feel safer here than in hospitals where I have to be the CO as well as the nurse. I recommend Corrections to any and all with compassion, acceptance and tolerance.

    Walter the Nurse




    Quote from cindyrn1
    Could anyone please tell me if they know of anyone that works as a psych RN at a correctional facility, what their job description is and what their salary is for that position? I am interested in pursuing a career in this area but am unsure as to what it entails. Your advise and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
  10. by   betsy1963
    I work in a correctional facility that is also designated as a mental health hospital for those inmates with mental health and addiction concerns. RNs and RPN (LPN canadian equivilant.) look after the inmates.We look after the inmates and correctional officers only come in for searches, off facility escorts, and for serious behaviour problems. The fellows each have their own rooms and most aren't locked in their cells at nights only confined to a wing. I feel much safer here than the psychiatric hospital I used to work at. Many of these fellows were in segregation before they come here so it's nice to know that we can deal with them here so they don't have to be that comfined.:angel2:
  11. by   fawcett
    Quote from cindyrn1
    Could anyone please tell me if they know of anyone that works as a psych RN at a correctional facility, what their job description is and what their salary is for that position? I am interested in pursuing a career in this area but am unsure as to what it entails. Your advise and suggestions are greatly appreciated.
    I am an RN at a maximum security prison. We have just built a psychiatric ward.
    I work in the regular prison as well as the psychiatric ward. If you have ever worked as a correctional nurse before, I'm sure that you know that most inmate's are mentally ill whether in the psych ward or not. In the psychiatric setting, medication administation is a bulk of your work.We do a lot of "suicide watches" or mental health observations. The starting salary for my job, I think is around $40,000/year. If you have any specific questions I would be glad to answer them
  12. by   cindyrn1
    I wrote this a few months ago before I got my current job. I am now the Mental Health Nurse of a Maximum Security Women's Prison. I have at least 500 inmates with psychiatric issues. I am not responsible for passing their meds......I do the assessments when their meds need changed or if they need to be discontinued or whatever. I get my orders from our psychiatrist and then put them into the computer so that medical will start the medications for the IM. I am responsible for providing groups for the campus on medication management and symptomology. I love this job! It's the best one I have had since I became a nurse. I had one other job where I absolutely loved it and was at the top of my ladder, but the place was closed down. But ironically my boss from that job is the CEO of the Mental Health Department that provides services for the prisons in my State! I have to drive about an hour to and from work but it's so worth it when you work a job that you love. My starting salary is the same as yours. I will get cost of living raises and whatever raises our company gives for profits they make. I have worked Forensic Psych and now Corrections and I prefer Corrections any day! Mentally ill criminals are the most dangerous people to work with. I learned a lot working at the State Hospital for 7 years, but I also left with injuries that will be with me until I die. In the prison setting there is consequences for bad behavior unlike in the Mental Health system. Anyway, I am still learning something new everyday at my job and I love it. Oh and I set my own hours too. If I need a day off, I just work one day on the weekend and I can take a 3 day weekend or whatever. I hope that this is the job that I retire from. I hope that you like what you are doing as well. What State are you from?





    Quote from fawcett
    I am an RN at a maximum security prison. We have just built a psychiatric ward.
    I work in the regular prison as well as the psychiatric ward. If you have ever worked as a correctional nurse before, I'm sure that you know that most inmate's are mentally ill whether in the psych ward or not. In the psychiatric setting, medication administation is a bulk of your work.We do a lot of "suicide watches" or mental health observations. The starting salary for my job, I think is around $40,000/year. If you have any specific questions I would be glad to answer them
  13. by   Moscow
    Quote from bukko
    Yikes! I never worked in a state mental hospital, just that prison, hospital psych wards and residential facilities. Compared to what you've been through, prison will be a breeze. Inside, there ARE consequences for inmates' actions. And sorry to sound callous, but when inmates mess up and don't get better, you don't have to care so much...
    One of the first questions put to me relative to Missouri was whether or not I could actually locate a big load of washer dryers which had seemingly left Chillicothe. The later (and inevitable) follow-up letters from various inmates neglected to mention it, so I presumed that they had just as mysteriously returned. In 2002 they made sexual misconduct a crime in Missouri.

    There was a variety of sexual misconduct at Vandalia, I think about 8 or so people etc. had to go there and in the county jails (which were far worse) there was quite a lot of sexual abuse, coerced strip shows etc. I think the total for sexual misconduct for the state, was probably about thirty or so. Most of the other complaints I was (invariably) given related to medical issues.
  14. by   cindyrn1
    Do you work in Chilli? I never heard of any sexual misconduct in either prison but of course I just started too. I love my job and I love the people that I work with. I am very impressed with the way that they do things in this prison and the way that they are actually trying to make a difference in the women's lives. It's a very clean prison and the inmates are so well behaved (most of the time ha ha). I am really glad that I have been given this opportunity to work in this prison setting.

    Quote from Moscow
    One of the first questions put to me relative to Missouri was whether or not I could actually locate a big load of washer dryers which had seemingly left Chillicothe. The later (and inevitable) follow-up letters from various inmates neglected to mention it, so I presumed that they had just as mysteriously returned. In 2002 they made sexual misconduct a crime in Missouri.

    There was a variety of sexual misconduct at Vandalia, I think about 8 or so people etc. had to go there and in the county jails (which were far worse) there was quite a lot of sexual abuse, coerced strip shows etc. I think the total for sexual misconduct for the state, was probably about thirty or so. Most of the other complaints I was (invariably) given related to medical issues.

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