What is it like to be a nurse in a prison? - page 5

Just curious, I may have a job lined up in a very large corrections facility, and was curious to know what nursing at a prison entails? Is it dangerous? Etc..... Read More

  1. by   Anna_Septic_RN
    I am going to be starting a job in a minimum-medium security prison, that is supposedly all non-violent offenders. There will be no COs in the clinic, just cameras. I'm kinda worried.
  2. by   jmewolf88
    Ive worked in county jail ( I don't want to really disclose which one) for the past 7 years. I started when I was 18, and started as a Medical Assistant and worked my way up. And unfortunately here where I am at the only reason i've stayed is because of the strait 8 hours, you dont have to work over time or 12 hours and it allows me to go to school to finish my degree, anyway here, I do not believe the RNs would make it in a hospital. They treat everyone like crap and have become heartless. Yes I realize the PEOPLE here are "inmates" but they are not dogs! That's what made me want to further my education because as a medical assistant I really could not do anything besides give them TB tests, and send them to the nurse for any other health problem, yes I know some have done really bad things, have murdered, raped and molested people, but we in the medical field in the correction setting are not supposed to judge them and not, NOT help them medically when they need it. Others that are here for unpaid child support and parking tickets, get treated the same, as if you raped 5 kids and killed someones mom. That's why I say the people that work here, in the jail I do, would not make it any where else, no hospital (i hope) would accept their behavior. So if your thinking about going to in Corrections, please be aware, a lot of the people you will come into contact with have a horrible past, they have done really bad things! I don't watch the news, because simply I don't want to see them on TV and run to them in here and pre-judge them and be mad and it ruin my day knowing they may have killed their own children. just always be aware of your surroundings, never let them walk behind you, you walk behind them telling them where to go, unless they are escorted by an officer, try not to wear a lanyard or anything around your neck, its always good to be too cautious then something bad happen. Like I said I've been doing this for 7, going on 8 years in Feb and I have yet to encounter anything happen to me (knock on wood) learn to read people, if someone is making you feel uneasy send them back or call someone over, Always trust your gut and NEVER become heartless!!! Good luck and I hope I didnt scare you away! It can be exciting just always be careful! Remember these people do have a release date and I have ran into a few inmates on the street while I was with my family, can you imagine how bad it could have turned out if I treated them like crap while they where locked up? instead I have been thanked for being the only nice person they ran into and treating them like a human-being!
  3. by   LPN Guy
    Quote from skifall
    I've been a correctional nurse for the past 9 years after working in a major trauma hospital. My job includes working with offenders in lock down as well as offenders who live in large groups and walk around freely. I intend to stay in corrections for the duration of my carreer. There's so much to be said about corrections I don't know where to begin. But here's a start: offenders dress themselves, feed themselves and their families are out of the picture. I stay hydrated, and use the restroom when needed, and I get a routine lunch period everyday. There's pleanty of parking, and I get to live outside a major city and not deal with traffic. The work is interesting and challenging. When there's a behavioral problem I get out of the way and let the officers handle it unlike hospital nursing. In a hospital you can't hit back period, in a prison they teach you self defense and tell you to hit, kick what ever it takes. To me correctional nursing is the best kept secret. It's not an enviornment for nurses who like to pat their patients on the back and call them endearing names, it's not for everyone. But then again, you'd never find me in a L&D unit. I'm greatful I found my nitch.
    I have applied for and interviewed at a max security state prison. Thanks for your input. I would end up moving to a small town outside of the big city but I actually welcome that. I am not a big fan of the patient is a customer paradigm and is always right no matter what. I am an older guy and like you I will never work in L&D even though I stuied it in school and clinicals. I have done my share of cleaning poop and feeding dementia patents and geriatric patents. From what you have described prison nursing seems to be a good fit for me as well.
  4. by   LPN Guy
    Quote from LPN Guy
    I have applied for and interviewed at a max security state prison. Thanks for your input. I would end up moving to a small town outside of the big city but I actually welcome that. I am not a big fan of the patient is a customer paradigm and is always right no matter what. I am an older guy and like you I will never work in L&D even though I stuied it in school and clinicals. I have done my share of cleaning poop and feeding dementia patents and geriatric patents. From what you have described prison nursing seems to be a good fit for me as well.
    Just a follow-up here... I went back for a second interview and a tour of the actual unit I would be working on - It's a maximum security state prison unit, one of several. Sounds like they (Corizon) wants to hire me and they are just waiting for the dept of corrections bkgrd chk etc to come through. I would be helping with the daily med pass mostly to start out with. We'll see what sort of money they have to offer when they actually make me a formal hire offer. I already just landed an LPN hospital job with the healthcare company I've been with for eight years, starting at $22 an hour, but haven't actually started it yet. Anyone out there have any idea what Corizon pays new LPNs who do have hospital experience? I have been a nurse's aide for the past four years and will be starting work as an LPN very soon - either in a hospital or at the state pen.
  5. by   Psych LVN
    Quote from alphaborn
    Does your husband have any suggestions of how to do med pass with those in locked cells? how to prevent palming meds? can't open the sally port/cuffport...do watch, see them clear their mouths...
    To be honest we medicate 100-200 patients, I'm not going to watch 200 patients to see if they swallowed their meds.

    Granted, if we had 30-35 patients it would be more doable.
  6. by   WAHMmy
    i have been working in a correctional facility for about 6 weeks. I have been a nurse for over 40 years. I have found that the inmates are nicer to me than the staff that have been there for years. This is a facility that changed from men to women in about 3 days, so they are still shell shocked.
    I have found that you really need to stand up and declare yourself as a patient advocate no matter what.
    The inmates are in prison and serving time the way our society has designed that they should. They are being punished already. It is not our job to deal out our own punishment. I really don't care why they are there. I don't want anything to cloud my objectivity in assessing someone complaining of illness. I want to assess it for myself.
    Yes, they lie. Maybe to get out of their cell. Maybe to contact their friends.
    But, it is still my job to advocate for their health. Many of them are now getting better health care than they did on the outside. That is not a crime and they are taking advantage of it. They are not there because they spit on the sidewalk. (A guard told me this one time when I worked in the ICU). But, ALL of them cannot be lying ALL of the time. Many time they are ill and need care and that is our job.
    We have to listen to them even if they are full of baloney. Just the contact with caring can make their lives better in there.
    I know I sound like a bleeding heart and a new grad, but you learn quickly who is just taking up your time. And you treat them just like the frequent flyers in the ER. You caught their gig before.
    Many times the nurse is the only professional woman (in the case where I work) that they have really seen. If the nurses are swearing and talking down to them, they think, "well, I already know how to swear and humiliate people " why should I aspire to be a professional.
    The main thrust of prison is still rehabilitation and nurses are key in this.
    Thank you for this forum, I have really been struggling with this for 6 weeks and you know, the people who have been the kindest to me have been the inmates.Maybe because I am older, but I take time with them and sometimes that is all they need. I explain that I am new and learning who they are all and they have been patient and really amazing.
    Okay, now I am boring myself but thank you for the opportunity to at least vent.
  7. by   WAHMmy
    I guess I need to post again as I haven't posted since March. On the 24th of March, I had to take a medical leave because a condition that I had, foraminal stenosis of L-4, L-5, became worse working at this correctional facility. The walk to two of the housing units is over a half a mile. This condition was controlled for over 2 years. But, accelerated rapidly with the walking. I was able to pinpoint what aggravated it and went to get MRI etc and they determined that surgery was needed, but then it was discovered that I had osteoppenia and was not at candidate at this time. So, plans were in place to get on forteo, exercise, diet changes etc.
    I went back to work and worked two weeks and they put me on the same assignment that caused the problem, for the next 4 days. Now, this was a change in the assignments, as I was assigned a med line for 2 and then the infirmary for 2 and that would have been fine. I had done both with some issues but, more when I got home with pain etc.
    So, I walked out. I left before my shift was due to start so, it wasn't desertion.
    Really liked the job, but watched other nurses being granted accommodations for various issues, plantar faciitis etc. but, none of these were afforded me. I really feel that they were giving me assignments that would force me to have to quit now that I think of it. I tried to schedule appointments with the docs on my day off, so as not to disrupt the staffing. And I was to get another epidural injection next week on my day off, but the doc couldn't do it then, so I tried to get my day off changed. My supervisor just stopped and said, I am not required to schedule your days off to accommodate your medical issues. I agreed that was true, but I was looking more at the staffing, so they wouldn't be short.
    Then when I had finally gotten in to get the injection, she scheduled me to attend an orientation that would be the entire week on day shift and I usually work evenings. That killed two appointments, including the subsequent epidural that did help me.
    Again, I am just venting. But, to be honest. This place had problems that this poor woman can't fix. The staff has terrible morale, they mainly hate the inmates and feel it is their job to punish them further for their crimes.
    They have had survey people come in and say that this place has the worst morale of anywhere they have been. The nursing staff use profanity when talking to them and swear constantly. There are times I have heard conversations and I look up and the people having them are wearing scrubs, they are NURSES! I thought it was the inmates.
    I guess finally, I had to think of myself and my own health. It is all about numbers and money and I should know this by now.
    I have been a nurse for over 40 years and still feel that I am bound to give the best I can to my patients whether they have committed a crime or what. But, this system makes it impossible. There are certain ethics and morals that I hold and really cannot violate and if I stand by and say nothing that is almost like doing it yourself.
    There are always problems with attitude wherever you work and you do what you can not to add to it and be as positive as you can. But, some situations are too toxic to remain in as it affects your entire life. I am not a whiner, you can't be a whiner and stay in nursing as long as I have.
  8. by   Barbara H.
    Exactly...tired of the negative comments myself. All nurses should worry about is giving compassionate health care. If this is bothersome, just pick up your license and work elsewhere. Geez...
  9. by   Sue Barton fan
    I just started working correctional nursing in a facility with well over 2,000 inmates. Each nurse should "ideally" be assigned 6 pods, but often more pods are added when staffing is short. There is one medication pass per shift and some inmates always get the short end of the deal e.g. why should an inmate be taking Trazodone at 4 PM - I don't blame them when they refuse to take it that early. Since I am not regular staff, I can be assigned any level, so there is no chance to rotate which pod I start at 3:30 and very little chance to get to know the inmates. My main mantra is to make sure that I follow the 5 rights of medication administration, since we give out both stock medication and patient specific psychotropic medication. However, the psychotropic medications are not given as patient specific because we don't have carts large enough to contain all of those bubble packs. So, we use the correct label of the medication as our guide for correct drug, dose and route and their arm bands or a C.O. ID for right patient. It's an INSANE way to administer medication, usually to over 200 inmates per shift. I treat everyone with respect, including the C.O.'s, the inmates and my fellow nurses. The regular nurses can sometimes be a bit cross and there is the occasional attempt to bully me, but I just maintain a calm and professional demeanor and it seems to eventually win them over. It is one of the most interesting jobs I have ever done and I do not feel unsafe at all. However, as others have mentioned, I maintain my guard at all times and I look to the C.O.'s when anything goes wrong. I am curious to know how other nurses manage those medication passes when you can not use the patient specific bubble packs.
    Last edit by Sue Barton fan on Jul 14, '15 : Reason: typo
  10. by   BlinkyPinky
    You sound like a quality person. Your post warned my heart.