My California CDC experiences thus far. - page 3

Hello all, Well, where to start? I am a recent "new grad" who got my foundation in the ICU. I learned all the basics, mastered content, delved into the science, and came out alive. However, I... Read More

  1. by   MassED
    Quote from EnigmaticParadigm
    Hello all,

    Well, where to start? I am a recent "new grad" who got my foundation in the ICU. I learned all the basics, mastered content, delved into the science, and came out alive. However, I wasn't very content.

    My fiance' works at a state prison here in CA in accounting; therefore, she saw how much all the different categories of employees made. She mentioned one day how much Registered Nurse - Correction Facility nurses made. I just about fell out of my chair. Working in the ICU I made $24.75 per hour as a new grad (plus 10% for weekends and an additional 10% for nights). So, working a weekend night 12 hour shift would gross me about $348.00. Take that a step further and go beyond the standard three-day work week and add in an addtional day: comes to about $1300.00 for the week --> $5200.00 per month. Keep in mind, this amount is for working 48 hours.

    Now, due to the Plata vs. Davis lawsuit (which carried over to Arnold), inmates in the state of California were awarded many more rights concerning their health, dental, and psychological care. The state of healthcare in the CDC was so poor, that a special position was created in Sacramento to oversee CDC healthcare for the next 5 years or so; this was done to prevent the Federal government and Bureau of Prisons from taking over CDC healthcare.

    Fast-forward to October 2006. This newly appointed government official started to clean house in a big way. However, the stigma of correctional nursing being only for "nurses who suck" was powerful. This official had to overcome this stereotype in order to bring in strong nurses. And the best way to do that? You got it: money. Therefore, most new RN hires are brought on under "Plata positions" and they are VERY well compensated. The starting wage for a Registered Nurse, Correctional Facility (Plata position) is from $7045.00 to $8100.00 per month. Let that soak in a moment.

    So, let's break this down. Taking the "step A" wage of $7045.00 per month for 40 hours worked, it comes out to be just over $44.00 per hour. This is working five 8 hour shifts with two consecutive days off in a row. Instead of working either day or night shift at the hospital, you have the choice of three shifts, or "watches." These run from 6am - 2pm (second watch), 2pm - 10pm (third watch), and 10pm -6am (first watch). So, not only do CDC RNs make $19.25 more per hour, they gross more than a RN working at the local hospital who worked 5 days in a week; a total of 60 hours (depending on which hospital's overtime calculation you are going off of).

    But wait, it gets more interesting: overtime.

    You want overtime at the CDC? You got boatloads. Sometimes you are actually stopped at the gate and told to report back to your unit in order to do another 8 hour shift. Some may hate this, others may like it; it's all personal preference I suppose. Want to pick up some extra overtime? No problem. Many live for the chance of overtime, but many more want to go home at the end of their shift. I'm in the boat of people that love overtime. This is how overtime works (basically):

    You don't have to wait until you are over 40 hours for overtime to kick in. If you work over your 8 hour shift, you automatically begin overtime hours. Overtime at CDC is time-and-a-half. This works out to be roughly $66.00 an hour. Now, let's compare again:

    Hospital day:
    12 hours x $24.75 = $297.00

    Hospital overtime day (assuming overtime = "double-time"):
    12 hours x ($24.75 x 2) = $594.00

    CDC regular day:
    8 hours x $44.00 = $352.00

    CDC overtime day:
    (8 hours x $44.00) + (8 hours x $66.00) = $800.00

    This may not be a true "apples-to-apples" comparison due to the fact that the hospital worker is working a 12 hour shift, while the CDC worker is working a 16 hour shift. But, here is where the fun comes in...

    Let's say I work M-F from 6am to 2pm. This is a standard 40 hour workweek at CDC. For doing this every week in a pay period, I will gross $7045.00 per month. Now, let's add in two days of overtime shifts. Remember, that is two 8 hour shifts at $66.00 per hour. So, combine the 40 hour week at $44.00 per hour with the 16 hours of overtime at $66.00 per hour, you get $2816.00 per week; now, multiply that by 4 weeks = $11264.00 per month for working a 60 hour week for 4 weeks.

    Working a 60 hour week at the hospital (5 twelve hour shifts) makes approximately $1960.00 per week; again, multiply that by 4 weeks = $7920.00.

    So, the difference, in raw hours worked (with overtime figured in) is approximately $3344.00 per month in favor of the CDC RN. Let's take it a step further again just for fun.

    Yearly gross hospital worker income on 60 hours worked per week:

    Yearly gross CDC worker income on 60 hours worked per week:

    Total difference:
    $40,128 per year

    Pumped yet? Need more info? Good , continue to read on.

    Oops, forgot to mention the $4500.00 sign-on bonus.

    Okay, so what is the application process like? Well, first you have to register on the Ca state website and take a "test." It's not even really a test; more like a survey of what you have done within the last 6 months or so. After completing the test, you get an immediate grade which then ranks you against everyone else in Ca applying for the job. There are a total of 14 ranks (I think) and CDC usually only pulls applicants for interviews out of the top 3 ranks. As it stands now, there is roughly 3000 to 4000 people who are ranked for interviews in the entire state. So, you basically have to wait your turn to be interviewed. This process took about four months for me. When I tested, I ranked 4 out of 14.

    Then one day I got a call to come in for an interview. I arrived and had to answer questions in front of a panel of three interviewers. After the interview, about two weeks passed until they started to call for references (keep in mind that the CDC will usually only call for reference checks if they are thinking of hiring). After that round of waiting, I received a call one week later with the job offer pending a TB test, physical, and DOJ/FBI background check.

    So, with all of that out of the way, I was hired. So, time from completing the online test to starting my first day at worked took about 4 months (your mileage may vary). At the prison I was applying for, they were hiring a total of 14 new RNs and interviewed approximately 150 applicants.

    I'm a little tired tonight to type out what my days are like, so I will continue this thread at a later date. Needless to say, I LOVE my job. I love going to work, I love working overtime, and I love the excitement, challenge, responsibility, and the compensation. I didn't even mention the retirement, benefits, etc which are equally spectacular (safety retirement rules).

    So, if you are curious about going into a career in correctional nursing, reply to this thread and I will answer what I can from my experience. It was the best choice I've ever made.

    To be continued...
    funny, nothing was mentioned about the work environment and the inherent danger working with inmates.
  2. by   MassED
    thanks for giving some more detailed info regarding this type of job... beyond the financial aspect of it.