Hi I hae been reading the post about corrections nursing and I noticed people who wanted to work there got hired. I also noticed that there is almost always openings. Is that due to high turn over or because the prisons are growing? just curious.
Join thousands and get our weekly Nursing Insights newsletter with the hottest discussions, articles, and toons.
While I cannot answer to the specific facility to which you have applied, I would say it is high stress/burnout. The population that you will be serving is a challenging one. Not only must you do the usual nursing duties but you must be aware of your surroundings, determine if someone is trying to get away with something,expect to be fairly autonomous, be mindful of security issues, etc. It is a delicate balance of providing appropriate care to your patient in a correctional facility. Some nurses, correctional officers, doctors, etc are just not cut out to work in corrections...just as some nurses are not cut out to work in other areas of nursing.
I found corrections quite interesting, challenging and often interesting. I frequently had new opportunities for learning as well as teaching.
The answer is probably attrition. How many nurses want to work in a jail or prison? I bet we could poll several nursing schools and get 0% reply in affirmation. Generally, it's not what people envision when they think of being a nurse. I wouldn't be overly opposed to it. The humor in me working for our state prison system would be running across inmates that I put there, lol. That'd be good.
My educational background before nursing was Legal Studies with an emphasis on criminal justice & criminal law and a postbac paralegal certificate. Corrections interested me from the start, but in nursing school we were dissuaded from considering this as a new grad. yet, they have hired a few new nurses.
Apart from the job of nursing itself, I can imagine that the organization entails alot of training, paperwork, and bureaucracy in everyday matter such as simply getting into and away from work every day, being basically locked in yourself all day, etc. That might not be for everyone. Then depending on the level of security at your facility your patients could be pretty challenging.
Lots of people I went to school with simply said "no way" and had some pretty harsh attitudes toward prison populations and convicted criminals. They expressed fears and reservations about it. I would say to them that they should consider Women's facilities, or look for the minimum security facilities and apply to those places only.
Many people don't want to go in there because they know someone who has gotten out of it after burning out on the constant security measures to go in/out, living most of your waking hours inside a prison (it ain't Disneyland after all), the fear of getting beaten up, raped, or killed (like the nurse on the news recently in the Bay Area), and the general ethical dilemmas some people have ("could you really care for a person who you know raped or killed children?!"). Those are the reasons I've heard from most people who have told me that they don't want to go into this area. Not that it matters, there are now so many unemployed nurses that experienced nurses are now filling these vacancies and new grads aren't getting very far in the process. It's just plain tough out there everywhere you look.
there is some turn over because of the nature of correctional nursing. below are some of the reasons nurses have provided me upon being terminated...both voluntary and fired.
some of the following reasons:
1. correctional nursing is "too of a high stress job".
2. you now really have 2 jobs...nursing and security "i only am getting paid for one".
3. the rules and regulation you must follow as a nurse can get you "walked off the compound" just because you gave your inmate janitor a piece of fudge at christmas time. yes i did have a nurse who we terminated because of this reason.
4. "i do not want to get sued".
5. nurses (as well as other non-nursing/medical staff) get manipulated by inmates into doing something they should not and get fired/lose license. this manipulation happens on a daily basis as this is a game to inmates and most have an axis ii for a diagnosis.
so we hire because this is one nurse career speciality that can be difficult at best. i have been in corrections for over 15 years on and off and just keep coming back. it challenges your nursing skills daily. you become a great nurse. nurses who do not have the best assessment skills and lack boundaries are the ones who usually leave.
I think the prisons are growing unfortunately. My friend works in Maryland for POS medical and loves it. I think I've said that a million times. She found them on facebook. They are hiring right now and I'm hoping to get hired too!
Correctional facilities house some very sick people. Many are very high risk due to lifestyle choices, poverty and a "less than adequate" start in life. Most of the problems are multigenerational and become more severe with each generation. Many are mentally ill and/or mentally retarded and neglected any type of basic health care before entering the correctional system. Correctional facilities also house elderly, frail and terminal people who will die inside of the facilities. This all adds up to increased health care need and cost. There is plenty of self inflicted lung, cardiovascular, renal and hepatic disease as well as brain damage and cancer inside of the "walls."
If you notice a continuous high turnover or constant hiring at a specific facility, maybe you should investigate more. Facilities that invest in experienced staff and offer comprehensive training are the ones to aim for. Typically, correctional nursing has a higher base pay than other facilities. Correctional health offers it's own challenges and rewards that can not compare to any other nursing specialty. Speaking with current or former employees would be ideal, though that may prove difficult. Also, nurses, as a rule have a caring nature and find difficulty with the boundaries that are NECESSARY in this field. The population served can be extreme; addition, mental health, suicidal, homicidal, manipulative, bored...the list is endless and medical staff HAS to be alert. If the detention staff and/or the medical staff are not supportive of the front line, then seriously consider applying elsewhere. High turnover or continual hiring would be a big red flag for me....I first went into correctional healthcare in 2000.
I work in a state prison and I rarely worry about getting raped or killed. You are never without an officer, alarm, whistle. The inmates are generally respectful and appreciative of the care you give them. It is rare for someone to be attacked physically. As a nurse your job is not security as that is the realm of the officers. I actually feel safer then in a hospital where patients can be violent and backup is slow in coming. The burnout occurs because the bureaucracy is demanding, technology outdated, and policies change daily. I am pretty happy with my job and feel I am getting excellent experience as a new nurse. As for treating child molesters, you do not read the c files of the inmates so generally you don't know what the crimes are. In the end you could be treating a child molester in a regular hospital. Who know the history of each person and why should that change the type of care you deliver as a nurse?