As with any nursing job, there are down sides. Here are a few:
1) If you are working for a private contract medical company, you face the non-renewal/cancellation of the contract every few years. Some systems award to the lowest bidder, which as we all know carries it's own problems. The business of correctional health care can be extremely competitive. As a staff employee you don't necessarily face losing your job, but you risk having to re-apply and be hired by a new employer periodically. As an administrative/management employee, you may face the necessity of job hunting or relocating in order to stay with the same company.
2) Many prisons/jails carry NCCHC/ACA accreditations. If you are in a well run, well managed site, this is a good thing because it implies a certain level of professionalism in the institution; If it is a poorly managed site (both corrections and medical) it can be a nightmare of paperwork and impossible requirements.
3) Inmates are the most litigious members of our society and will sue at the drop of a hat, because they can. This creates a nightmarish amount of documentation and paperwork in order to keep yourself covered. I urge any nurse who wishes to specialize in corrections to make it a point to learn the standards for correctional health care, and to be an excellent document-er. If this is not your strong point, you may want to reconsider.
4) You need a tough skin to endure the attitudes of many inmates and security personnel. Cultivate a professional, no-nonsense manner and you'll do fine.
5) We do think of all inmates as people needing health care, but you may work with limited resources and strict managed care-type guidelines which impact the ability to do many things for inmates. Something as simple as providing a special walking shoe for an inmate may turn into an administrative nightmare due to both corrrections and medical rules.
6) You willl need an open mind and a broad knowledge of nursing, as we see everything that there is to see medically, from OB to diabetes, to aids.
7) These "problems" are overcome by your dedication to providing professional health care and your attention to detail and committment to continuous learning. Correctional nursing is a dynamic, ever changing specialty. You will never be bored!