Correctional nursing like ER?

Specialties Correctional


Hi guys!!

I was totally stoked to work in the ER after graduation but I'm now thinking about going into corrections.

Are they similar?

In my head, I see them as being very similar. Fast paced, many different types of cases, the need to think quick and react quicker, and always something new...

Thoughts, comments and links are very welcome here.


They can be similar, but they can also be very different. Just be prepared to make decisions independently, without other nurses or a Doc at times. I work in a facility that has both a dispensary and an infirmary and it can range from ER type visits, Doctor's office visits, nursing home patients, med-surg, etc. At night there is one nurse for approx. 3,000 inmates.

Well that actually sounds like it's right up my alley... :)

Specializes in Professional Development Specialist.

Some of my classmates did clinicals in corrections. It likely depends a lot on your facility. At the county jail it was a LOT of admissions assessments, blood draws, and reviewing new "patient" history. Once they were part of the population it was monitoring to be sure they actually swallowed their meds. Management of chronic illnesses such as copd, renal failure, heart failure, all often related to drug/alcohol/tobacco use. Some of my cohorts ended up in corrections.

Is it pulling teeth to get in? or do they welcome new grads?

They welcome new nurses from my experience, I am a EMT-I and I am in nursing school, I have been working at a local jail for 3 years. It is very interesting. I mostly do intake so I do the medical screening on new inmates. One thing about this job, you will have to think outside the box. You will have people lie to you, you will have someone saying the are having chest pain, after you do the complete work-up with what you have vitals, EKG, etc...Then they will tell you they just wanted to get out of their cell for a minute:devil: You also will see some very sad situations, the same people coming in and out, seems like they have no one that cares,. you have a lot of suicidal people because of what is going on, you have SO SO SO many mental health patients because here in GA they are shutting down mental health facilities left and right. But you will get a chance to make a difference, you can talk to the inmates and learn things about them, and try to guide them and they do listen mostly. One thing to be aware of, inmates will lie to get what they want, they are VERY manipulative! I did not know that when I 1st started working there, but I know now! Also the men constantly are saying sexual things, remember you (the nurses) are the only females they see daily, doesn't make it right but learn to tune it out, Always be fair and don't do for one and not the other, and stand your ground, don't let them tell you what you are going to do. Again this is just a few tips, take it or leave it, but it is an interesting job, like I have said before it is the most frustrating/rewarding/weird/gritty/interesting job I have ever had. If you decide to go into this field, I highly recommend you get a book called GAMES INMATES PLAY it gives tons of good information!!

Good luck to you in whatever you decide,


thanks so much jenn... I appreciate it...

Jails hire LVNs too right? I'm going that route as I go through school...

Yes they do so go for it!!!

Good luck,


Thanks from me too jen!!!

Oct. 26th will be my first day as a correctional nurse @ angola state pen...."alcatraz of the south" is what it's nicknamed.

12 hr shift work....which i prefer. I have taken the assignment at camp j which is the max. Security prisons('rs,awaiting death row). It's nothing i have ever worked with....other than a few clinical rotations at the state mental hospital for the criminally insane....forenzics unit.

I will definately take your advise to heart.....and will go look into that book you suggested!

Thanks and wish me luck!!!


Specializes in ER, HH, CTICU, corrections, cardiology, hospice.

When i took my job at the state pen I thought it was going to be the wild west. So far, no stabbings, two or three fights. 2-3 takedowns and a couple of cell extractions. Mostly primary care once they are in the state system. By the time we see them they have pretty much been detoxed, stabilized on psych meds and been classified.

THe county system, reverse all of the above.

So you are saying that county is a mad house?

Specializes in ER, HH, CTICU, corrections, cardiology, hospice.

No just different.

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