Correctional Facility Nursing

Posted
by eriksoln eriksoln, BSN, RN (Member) Nurse

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience.

Anyone here done it? Can you tell me a little about it?

Is there a difference between federal and local correctional facilities as far as the nursing goes?

Anything I should know before I get involved?

chevyv, BSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Mental Health. Has 14 years experience. 1,679 Posts

You may want to go up top and click on Specialty and then in the drop down click on Nursing Specialties. There is a Corrections section there. Hope this helps.

caringchic

caringchic

69 Posts

I have worked in two different DOC places, one in ID and one in OR. One was a med security and one min/med/max. They both had similar operational styles. I absolutely love it, it is my favorite kind of nsg, buit after awhile I get burnt out on the system and how screwed up it is. If you are the kind of individual that can go to work and sit by watching people who actually need help get screwed while manipulative individuals get help it may not be a great LT place..

The flip side, there are very concrete protocols/procedures in place. Both places had a provider on call w/ only set days for visits, which were booked months in advance for the sickest folks. Nurse sick call is run daily for chronic care, acute compliants, or med issues. The RN assess, evaluates and proceeds within the protocol. There is alot of automony in that. Pill call is 3X daily usually w/ several variations in how the facility operates this. Pill call is up close contact w/ the inmates and the only time I was ever afraid. Med staff is usually the inmates "best friends" we are not "the cops". However, pill line is where I have seen inmates riot, attack "cops" and attack each other. Inside a DOC is an entire different culture and an entire different way of looking at our judicial system if you choose to think about it.

From time to time if there are cell extractions you will have to assist the C/O w/ that. The swat team ambushes the cell w/ pepper spray and forces the door open subduing the inmate, adrenaline rush for sure pepper spray can be an irritant for asthmatics, it burns!

I loved all the different skills I got to use daily. The medical emergencies that get called are fun, never know what is going to happen. It is similar to an ER but not usually as acute. The offenders that are old lifers w/ chronic dx are the ones I have had code on me, or the DM who are making an ass of themselves and not taking meds and have a reaction are fun. All the inmates housed in med. for post procedure obs, safety, mental health, NPO for tx to hospital. It is a very diverse environment.

Not a good place for people who get riled up easily. Some offenders can be jerks, what have they got to lose! Your best interpersonal skills can be a lost cause! Only place I have ever worked where swear words are used....

Dont forget you are not an asset to the prison, so if they are locked down for some reason, no one goes anywhere. You are off shift to damn bad, you sit tight until master control opens the gate.

The only thing I would be wary of and ask about before hand is the chain of command between security/ master control and the HSA. Sometimes they have different agendas and that can put new nurses or travels in a bad spot.. just document DOC loves their paper!

Good luck to you... just out of curiosity is it a CCA prison?

eriksoln, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience. 2 Articles; 2,636 Posts

chevyv: Yeah, I noticed that after I posted. Funny thing though, there are two questions/posts just like mine in there, and they are unanswered.

caringchic: I havent applied yet, but we are going to settle down in PA and I might start applying. I've been told going for a federal prison is better. Local/state prisions contract out for their nurses, federal ones actually hire you. Thats what I was told anyway. That would be odd, being under lock down. Can you at least go sleep somehwhere. How long can that last?

caringchic

caringchic

69 Posts

Lock downs can last for awhile, the longest one I was in was about 5hrs. Depends why the facility is locked down; riots, fights, escapes, seg problems anything that requires alot of security staff will lock down the joint. Can you go to sleep depends on who is in or out of the medical. Once I was on pill call, and the LPN was in the unit, the relieving nurses were at the front lobby but had to be frisked prior to entering the facility. It was a long wait! :)

Just a reflection of my experience that I can pass on would be CCA prisons are not my first choice for employment. They are very safe but they are contracted to states- TX, OK AL, and a few others so dollars are watched closely sometimes not providing good care.

No fed prisons where I am from so dont know anything about that!

Stay safe!

chevyv, BSN, RN

Specializes in Acute Mental Health. Has 14 years experience. 1,679 Posts

Thanks for the in depth look. I'm finishing my last semester in ns and I'm hoping to get into Corrections for my preceptorship and hopefully a job offer from there (if I like it). It looks like the benefits are pretty good and health insurance is reasonable. Any opinions on that?

caringchic

caringchic

69 Posts

the benefits are great i worked for the state at one prison and yes the PTO and health isnurance is great plus you could contribute to state retirement plan. private institutions have OK benefits. Just make sure you have good boundaries and are not easily manipulated, I had a pt once realistically perform psuedo seizures so realistically we sent him to the ER and myself and my co-RN both used to work on an epilpsy unit! LOL It was amazing!

eriksoln, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience. 2 Articles; 2,636 Posts

OK. So how do you apply for these positions? I heard most were contracted out. Can you just call the HR office at the prison?

Magsulfate, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 13 years experience. 1,201 Posts

I was a guard in Tx at a maximum security prison unit before I became a nurse. I WOULD NOT WORK AS A NURSE IN PRISON IF IT WAS THE LAST NURSING POSITION ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

There are several reasons why. Some of which are hard to explain by typing in this forum. This is a PG rated forum after all.

1) The nurses there were so distant and bitter at the inmates that there is no way they got proper nursing assesments/care, even when they were brutally beaten or very ill. They would die before getting care from those nurses.

2) You are put into a situation that is hard to describe here.... A position of EXTREME vulnerability and if you don't have what it takes, then you will fail, and it will not be easy to get out of the bad situation, unless you quit. Even then, the inmate can still find you in the *real world* and do or say god knows what. He can ruin your nursing reputation and career if he wants to. It is much more complicated, but you will find out if you ever go to work at a prison.

3) If you enjoy contact, conversation, caring for your patients, and really making a difference, then the prison is not a place for you. You will get none of these. And if you do get these, you will be talked about and everyone will be convinced that you are a whore and have a relationship with inmates.

Some woman can handle it. However, some women are thrown to the dogs and accused of being inmate *lovers* just for doing their job like I said above. The guards have no tolerance for women who treat the inmates with respect or any kindness.

Magsulfate, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 13 years experience. 1,201 Posts

Let me add one more thing... If you are a male nurse, that might be a different story. And if you are a woman and you go to work at a women's prison that also might be a different story.

If you are a gay male nurse, consider yourself just as vulnerable as a woman in that situation.

caringchic

caringchic

69 Posts

I have experienced some of those things which were exactly the reasons I got burned out and quit for a time. In my original response I wrote that prison culture is very different from life on the outside. you dont get to be overtly helpful and caring d/t the different perspective from security. I was never accused of anything from the staff but the inmates talk, a bunch of men testorone floating around w/ no "appropriate" release seems to me like a expected outcome! LOL BUT the difference is being a RN on the inside is I didnt have to have the same perogative as the C/O. I worked only in mens prisons, I have previously worked w/ all women inpatient psych locked units and they are some crazy hunnies in their! Women are all catty makes balanced girls crazy!

Being on the inside I found it best to take it all w/ a grain of salt, the inmates, the security staff and the expectations of the joint.

Lets face it is one of the fastest growing industries in our country...what can we say to that?!

eriksoln, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience. 2 Articles; 2,636 Posts

It funny to read the posts in here and in the Correctional Nursing forum. It doesnt exactly match the advise I got from a guy who told me I'd do well in correctional nursing.

He said as long as you remain respectfull, dont talk down to people, you'll be fine. Pointed out it was when staff judged the inmates that trouble started. Said he got along with inmates fine except for a couple exceptions. Even had a story about an inmate giving him hassle and another inmate jumped in and protected him. Guess you have to experience it for yourself to see how you feel about it.

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