Question for the Nurse Managers out there.

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    When reviewing applicants for a position in an acute care setting, particularly on a medical surgical unit, or emergency unit, what is your professional and personal opinion of a candidate who's work experience mostly comes from a corrections background. I am considering taking a correctional nursing gig as my first RN job and was hoping to moonlight, or pick up some side work, along the line in an acute care setting. The prison of interest puts their RNs to work in the infirmary and clinic.

    I have exhausted google's ability to satisfy my curiosity regarding the issue, but it never occurred to me to ask here. I'd like to hear honest answers regarding the matter.
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  3. 10 Comments so far...

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    I hire new graduates without any experience, so I would be will to interview someone with correctional experience. Our institution puts all newly hired nurses through the same orientation program regardless of past experience. Good Luck
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    I am a clinical leader on a busy pediatric unit- and conduct interviews along with my manager. I certainly would not think any less of a nurse with a corrections background. Around in my area, jobs are getting somewhat scarce, and we hire a lot of new grads. So I think if it's going to work for you, go for it! -Jaime
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    This is refreshing to hear. I get tired of seeing the faces people make when I tell them I was offered a job at a correctional facility. Then again most of my colleagues/peers are in the ICU setting, the land of egos. haha

    thank you two for the input. looking forward to hearing more responses on the matter.
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    patients are patients. I would not have an issue. I would also bear in mind that acute hospital care is different from out-patient or clinic care, regardless of patient population. But we can fix that!
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    i have a sign in my office..."you don't have to be crazy to work here...we'll train you!" we hire alot of new grads so a nurse with experience...any experience is always worth a look. my 1st thought would be "...I'll bet there are some seriously funny and scary stories & experience there..." you will certainly gain an unique perspective on human nature...use that when you're ready to move on...if you ever are...I would imagine that correctional nursing takes a special calling...you might not want to ever leave.
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    I worked at the county jail in the medical office for a year. Left ICU to go. LOVED it! Very interesting job. The only reason I left was b/c I got put on the evening shift which I also didn't mind but had a 15 yr old daughter that needed more supervision then I could provide on that shift.
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    I am a Director of a Progressive Care Unit. When interviewing candidates I look for certain things. Correctional background nursing is a good experience that I would readily look at. These nurses can be exceptional nurses as they deal with some of the most difficult people. The thing to remember is not what area you enter in nursing, but what you do with it. I look at individuals that continue their leaning and strive for best practice as well as evidence based practice, teamwork and willingness to be flexible and dependable. I would certainly consider a correctional nurse as a candidate.
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    This is great advice to hear. I decided to take the job in corrections and have been here for a month. The best way I could describe what this job has taught me is the same thing a child learns when he is thrown in the deep end of the pool. Lots of stressful situations where lots of autonomy is involved. It is teaching me patience as well as teaching me how to deal with some of the most difficult patients i've ever dealt with. It is teaching me to be resourceful as I do not have as many resources as I did in the hospital. I love it. The replies in this thread have calmed my anxieties regarding my future career. I'm glad there are nurse managers out there that see the value in this kind of experience.
    Altra and SuzieeQ like this.
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    All experience has worth. When comparing job candidates, work history is only one factor in the hiring decision


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