New to Correctional Nursing, any tips? - page 2

I'm an LPN, I have 3 years of experience in a hospital working ortho and med/surg. I recently was offered a job as LPN 4p-12a at our county jail. It houses 800 inmates both male and female. I start... Read More

  1. by   f1j1nurse
    Quote from Orca
    I have been an RN for 20 years, the last 14 of it in corrections, with eight as a DON. I will try to give you some information that you can use.

    1. Stick to your policies and procedures. Deviation from them is the road to compromise, and that is a place where you don't want to be.

    2. Be courteous and pleasant, but not overly friendly. Don't share any details of your personal life with inmates. They don't need to know that you're dating, that you have two daughters, that you went clubbing last night or that you're going on vacation in two weeks. Many inmates are experts at taking tidbits of personal information and using them to gain your confidence. This is another avenue to compromise. You start to feel comfortable around a particular inmate and you begin to confide in him. He will "understand" what you are going through. Before you know it, you're in over your head. I have seen even experienced correctional medical staff fall into this particular trap.

    3. Spare the terms of endearment and excessive hands-on treatment. Inmates are not "sweetie", "honey" or anything other than their names. I normally refer to them as Mr. or Ms. No first names, because that implies familiarity. No way to get in trouble with that. Confine any hands-on treatment to only what is necessary to get the job done. No physical comforting, no hugs. Any of this can be misinterpreted as romantic interest. You are not working with people who are skilled at maintaining appropriate interpersonal boundaries. Keep it professional.

    4. You will be in an environment where you will hear a lot of profanity and slang. Keep these out of your dealings with inmates. Be professional and you will be respected.

    5. Don't go into an area with an inmate alone, or turn your back to an inmate when you are working. Keep sharps secure (scissors, needles, etc.). These have value on the yard, and inmates will steal them at any opportunity.

    6. Set limits. If an inmate starts cursing or yelling or is discourteous or threatening, conclude your business and hand the matter over to custody. This isn't a hospital, where you have to placate angry people because they are customers. If an inmate started yelling or arguing with me, I told the officer "We're done here. He can go now." Word will get out that you won't be intimdated or take verbal abuse.

    7. The information network on the yard is large and word gets around quickly. If you just broke up with your husband or boyfriend, or you got totally wasted last weekend, it will be all over the yard in short order if you mention it to or around an inmate. I never mention family, the area of town where I live or anything that I have planned or have done around an inmate. There are no pictures of family or hobbies or travels in my office. That is deliberate. The less that I share with inmates, the better.

    8. Do not do any favors for inmates. Don't take anything out or bring anything in for them, or do for one what you would not do for all. This snowballs quickly, as one of our dental assistants soon learned when she started bringing in CDs for her "favorite" inmate. He used the threat of reporting her to coerce her into more and more "favors", including sexual ones.

    9. If you tell an inmate that you are going to do something, follow through. This mainly applies to things like referrals, ordering medications and the like.

    10. Remember that inmates live in a world with a lot of sameness and monotony. Your interaction with them, whether it is positive or negative, will be a bigger part of their day than it would be were they on the outside. Things stick with them.

    11. Keep your conversation guarded if inmates are in the area. They are expert eavesdroppers.

    12. If an inmate says something inappropriate to you, call him on it immediately. Ignoring it is allowing it.
    This is the best advice!!
  2. by   SobreRN
    Bring mace? I work in a county jail and signs posted all over stating it is a felony to bring in any weapon including mace.
  3. by   Woodstock11
    Read this book
    " Games criminals Play" by Bud Allen & Diana Bosta
    It gives a great play by play of inmate manipulaton tactics.
  4. by   Megaman1982
    Be firm, fair, and consistent. Dont carry extra items to the pods. Leave your cell phone in your med room put away. If you drop it and an inmate gets it it is a felony on you. If you dont know something say you will find out because they probobly know the system better than you do. Keep in mind they are not your friends. They are con artist which is why most are there. Some for small trivial things, some for major and horrible crimes. Either way treat them the same. Dont look up the reason for their incarceration. It can alter your compassion and thought as to rather they even deserve medical care or not. Also, dont read them the medical issues. Your basically giving them an order sheet. They will pick things off of it and tell other inmates. You will notice a significant change in your sick calls.
  5. by   Orca
    Quote from ckbreathing
    Does anyone have an tips or advice? My biggest fear is being maniuplated by an inmate due to no experience in this field..and the fact that I'm young (23) Also, I'm a very friendly person..I've taken care of patients who've done horrible things, I have no problem being nice to them
    Being courteous to inmates is fine, but don't be overly friendly. Terms of endearment should be left at home. Keep hands on treatment to only what is necessary to get the job done. No hugs or physical comforting.

    Manipulation is going to happen. Even those of us who have worked in this area for a while get had every now and then. As time goes along, it will be less frequent as you become more familiar with the routine, and what is right and wrong in the environment becomes more instinctive.

    IMO correctional nursing is one of the undiscovered jewels in medicine. I have been in it for 17 years now, and I would not willingly go back to a hospital environment.
  6. by   Trampledunderfoot
    I heard somewhere that it can be hard to protect your license in a prison, is this true?
    Someone also told me the other nurses are hateful, would this be more than they are in a nursing home? My least favorite part of a nursing home was the hateful nurses.
  7. by   Orca
    Inmates can, and do, file complaints with the board of nursing. I have been on the receiving end several times, mainly for saying "no". I have never had anything come of an investigation. I have also been sued more times than I can count. I am literally on a first name basis with three attorneys in the Attorney General's office. However, I am an administrator, so I am named whenever anything happens. In 12 years at this level, there have been maybe three or four times that line staff had to answer BON complaints. I helped them to prepare their responses. Nothing came of those either.

    As long as you are not knowingly violating rules and regulations, there isn't any more danger in this environment than there is in any others. As far as the behavior and disposition of the staff, this varies widely between workplaces.

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