I work as DON of a Correctional Healthcare Company. I started as the administrator of a local prison and moved up the chain over the past 7 years.
1. Benefits depend on the type of facility you work in. For example, a prison without an infirmary is much easier than a prison with an infirmary. Benefits vary by facility location. If one of our facilities is having trouble recruiting, and has a qualified applicant who may have a need for flexible scheduling, we offer it. It comes down to what can you provide that we need & what can we provide that you need. Some facilities have sign on bonuses or relocation bonuses, etc.
All of my facilities operate a clinic only. These facilities run similar to MD offices. We triage medical complaints, follow chronic illnesses, manage medications, pass medications, schedule appointments, etc. One benefit of this environment is your patients are ambulatory (no bedpans, no assistance with ADLs, etc.). We consider our adult inmates as "adults" and we treat them as such and allow them to play an active role in their own healthcare. (Just as your doctor allows you to do in the real world) We have a medical observation room for those inmates who need isolation from the rest of the population or frequent checks by nursing staff, but no one on med obs requires skilled nursing care.
I have never worked for a facility which had an infirmary. So I don't know the benefits of this type of environment.
However, from all of the nurses I have worked with in corrections, the best advantage overall is NO FAMILIES! When I worked in the hospital, it was a common saying that if the families would leave us to do our jobs, we could get so much more accomplished. How true it is! Now you have one
Warden to deal with instead of multiple family members.
2. As far as disadvantages, the biggest is politics. There are so many things you have to do a certain way "just because". I heard this same complaint in the hospital, so I know it's not unique to corrections. However as you move up the chain, you see more and more. Medical is not the first priority, security is. If you accept this, it's no problem. If you don't, you'll never last.
Believe it or not, in our facilities, security is not a disadvantage. I know exactly what my patient is...
an inmate! I have security backup. In the hospital, I didn't know anything about my patients other than what they told me. The inmate can tell me how innocent he is or whatever, but he is
I had instances in the county hospital where the patient or visitors were gang members and there was one security officer (without a gun) for the entire hospital. We also had those patients that were released straight from the hospital and booked into jail (we weren't notified of this until he was ready for discharge).
Needless to say, I feel much safer in the prison setting than in the hospital. However whatever setting you are in, your safety should be your number one priority.
3. As far as openings, it really depends on the region. In smaller more remote towns, it is harder to recruit staff. In larger metropolitan areas, it's easier to recruit. If the staff is happy, they stay.
Hope this helps. If you have any other questions or concerns you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I am always trying to talk up correctional nursing. I know I will NEVER go back to the hospital setting!
Good luck in whatever you decide!