Correctional Nursing-Last Stop For Nurses who can't make it anywhere else - page 4

I came to correctional nursing after 4 years of ER experience in a level 1 trauma center. I was burned-out and ready for a change. One of the first things I noticed hanging on the wall of the nurses... Read More

  1. by   Reblflowrs
    I am an LPN and have worked in several areas, including LTC, Cardiac offices, telemetry, step down units, med-sug and post-op. I took a job as a correctional nurse after moving to Va. due to the fact the pay was 5k more to start a year here than in the cardiac office I was working in. At first I was a little apprehensive about it, but after being here 2 years I find it is no different than working with any other patient. I keep my assessment skills honed and work with the MD on a close basis. I have kept my clinical skills intact with IV treatments and venipuncture as we have an 8 bed infirmary. True, you see the worst of patients at times, and some of them are just bad to the bone. Then there are just people who made mistakes. The health problems are the same, and I try very hard not to judge any of them. I see some idiots working in this field, but I have seen those in all areas. I applaud any nurse doing a good job, no matter where it is. I take no offense at remarks other nurses make about us, I just figure they are one of those who like to make themselves look good by talking down others.
  2. by   debbyed
    Lately I've been dropping by threads that I don't normally visit, actually looking for good things. You guys have impressed the heck out of me. If we could all support and stand-up for each other they way you all have life would be so much better. I've been an ER nurse for > 20 years and recently was offered chance to do some PRN corrections work. I hadn't made up my mind yet but you guys have made it sound much more appealing. I may just have to chance it. Any tips???
  3. by   Orca
    A few.

    1. Don't believe everything you are told by an inmate about physical symptoms. Many will exaggerate their symptoms, or fabricate them entirely, just to get out of their cells or to get some extra attention. These guys aren't doing time for being honest and on-the-level. Your assessment skills will be put to maximum use sorting out the game-players from the legitimate issues.

    2. Unlearn much of what you have learned about the delivery of care. In this environment, the patient is expected to take a degree of responsibility. Run and fetch for them, as we are conditioned to do in hospitals, and they will have you tied in knots. Excessive attention marks you as a person easy to manipulate.

    3. Don't "bend the rules". While you don't have to be rigid and inflexible, being firm pays large dividends. You won't become compromised profesionally, and in their own convoluted way, inmates will respect you for it.

    4. Lighten the atmosphere with humor in appropriate spots. I have always used humor in my practice, and the environment these guys live in is serious enough on its own. I have defused a number of potentially tense situations with proper use of humor.

    5. Don't take everything inmates tell you about conflicts with staff literally. Inmates often try to cultivate a sympathetic ear by telling a drawn-out story about how they have been wronged or brutalized by a particular staff member. They are counting on your caring instincts, and your obligation as a patient advocate, to pull you to their side. This is how a lot of compromising situations start. Remember that they are inmates, and many are master manipulators. They are usually not telling the entire truth about such matters. Prison is a violent and serious environment, and conflicts must necessarily be dealt with swiftly by security staff. Force is often necessary to prevent harm to life and property.

    None of this is meant to scare you. It is a very different specialty from anything else I have done, and it is challenging. I often have to make calls on delivery of treatment based upon a conversation with someone with little or no medical knowledge, and I often have to make decisions without the benefit of a physician's input (although they are available if I need them). I have a lot of latitude in what I do, and hospitals just can't compete.
    Last edit by Orca on Apr 23, '03
  4. by   passing thru
    RE: Post # 3

    Tell it like it is , Stargazer !

    Last edit by passing thru on Apr 23, '03
  5. by   debbyed
    Thanks for the tips. As now I work in a busy Balti/Metro ER I am quite familar with #1 and #5; and #2 would be a much needed respite from "Oh nurse will you get us all some coffee, 1 black, 2 with sugar.........oh and something to snack on, and those cute little blue slippers.........". I understand the necessity of #3 & #4. I can't imagine nursing without humor.

    Thanks again for the tips.
  6. by   Mkue
    Thanks for the tips Orca
  7. by   powmol
    I have worked for the last 20 years in different areas of nursing. Working in a correctional facility by far was one that needed knowledge and compassion. Nurses that except jobs within this field are up against tremendous stressful out of the ordinary situations. I am unsure how possibly all of these nurses that you are talking about could be so incompetent. Maybe you are just burned out of nursing, is it time for a break???
  8. by   katscan
    Yep, powmoll, sounds like burnout to me too...
  9. by   Nitey_RN
    6 plus years in @ a max---and still enjoy my job---stressful? yep at times--
    have to wear many nursing hats? yep always--
    Ive worked with many great nurses---and luckily in my case only a few not so great nurses--both behind the wall and in the free world also. So I'm not so different as many of my fellw nurses in that respect. I would encourage anyone to give corrections a try---I'd have never thought ten years ago I would be where I have chosen to be but I like it! I like the diversity and it's fast paced. I've seen many come and go for various reasons, most really like it or really
    hate it, and it's a tough job at times.
    Have a great day!!!!
  10. by   nurse4cons
    I am 45 years old and have been a nurse for 16 years. Ive worked in all aspects of nursing from clinical to ER. I was looking for a change and wanted to try Corrections. I am very strong and outspoken with a Los Angeles Gang background. I think after 3 years now I have found my place on earth. I believe that I can make a difference in someones life, not at the moment but I bet they will think back someday and remember what I told them. Nursing equals Compassion: Behind bars as well.
    Last edit by nurse4cons on Jun 17, '03
  11. by   travelbug
    Thanks everyone for the insight into Corrections nursing, now I only have to decide what company to go with and where, any suggestions would be very appreciated. Is the pay good?
    Last edit by travelbug on Jun 19, '03
  12. by   renerian
    I see this topic is back again LOL. I can feel heat on my back from previous flames LOL.

  13. by   toughbug
    I'm really sorry about your experience as a Correctional Nurse. My question is: were you employed by a county, state or federal facility? It makes a difference. I am employed by a federal prison. The work conditions in our medical department are more sanitary than a hospital's, the pay and benefits are a lot better, and the quality of healthcare professionals? Top notch. I work with highly educated, experienced health professionals. I worked as a Licensed Paramedic for four years, the ER as a RN for one year. I have two degrees. Working in a federal prison for over three years, I have to adhere to the state nurse practice act and federal regulations, policy and procedures. I went through an extensive background check. Had to train at a federal law enforcement academy for three weeks. I train once a year in self-defense and I have to qualify with a M-16 assault rifle, 9mm handgun, and a 12 gauge shotgun every year. I must know my job and the correctional officer's job. Our department has received a "superior rating" with Joint Commission the past three reviews. I can hold my own in the ER, on the ambulance or in prison. I'm sorry: the comment on the type of nurses that work there are greatly false. Those kind of nurses are everywhere. NOT just corrections. P.S. Orca hit the nail on the head.