Correctional nurse transitioning to medsurg

by lia_bri lia_bri (New) New Nurse

Specializes in correctional. Has 9 years experience.

Hi! I am a correctional nurse who worked in the prison “emergency room” for 5 years. I always felt that RN’s did jobs that EMT’s / paramedics do out in the regular world. Much of my work involved driving an actual mini ambulance and with the help of custody stabilizing inmates until an actual ambulance transported them to the hospital. Many times I dealt with hangings, stabbing, and riots where we had to strap inmates down on spinal boards, apply neck collars, and chest seals to chest wounds while ambu- bagging them or actively performing CPR if you were the passenger nurse. I left that environment because no matter what I did I never felt like a “REAL” nurse. After 5 years I decided to pursue my dream of being an ICU nurse and have started in med-surg. I feel so depressed because I lack basic skills such as knowing how to do blood transfusions or basic insulin/heparin infusions. I have learned a lot in the 6 months of med surg but I still feel out of place. I feel like a new grad . I feel judged by other newer more experienced nurses. Has anyone ever gone through this journey? We’re you able to transition from correctional nursing to an in-hospital setting without any prior experience? I feel like I’ve pigeoned hole myself and can’t help but think of how much time I wasted doing stuff that most RN’s don’t do or would ever have to ?. Thank you so much! Sorry for the rant!

Edited by lia_bri



Has 32 years experience. 113 Posts

Med/Surg is a new flavor of nursing for you. Don't discount the skill set you obtained and perfected in Corrections. It gave you a foundation and will come in handy in the future.

Give yourself a little more time if you really enjoy the Med/Surg. Don't bother worrying about what other nurses think of you outside of assisting you at work. There is no way any of them are the Florence Nightingale's they may act like.

At the end of the day, if you are making progress, learning new things and taking care of the patients in an ethical, moral and professional manner, that's what counts.  You got this!

Dani_Mila, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Progressive Care, Sub-Acute, Hospice, Geriatrics. Has 4 years experience. 381 Posts

Don't feel upset. I have a classmate who is an RN and is still doing paramedic work. She is pretty good too with critical thinking skills and nursing procedures. I am in the same boat as you. I was just offered a job at a progressive care unit (intermediate care) and I do not feel like I have enough acute care experience to go through it. I am still deciding. I do not know if I should just opt for a med-surg unit with less acuity.



1 Post

I know exactly how you felt. I came from correctional and now in neuro medsurg. I hope you are feeling okay now because im wondering when will I able to feel confident.