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Corrections Nurse for a New Grad

Correctional   (2,746 Views | 45 Replies)
by Jah Jah Jah Jah (New) New Nurse

Jah Jah has 1 years experience and specializes in New Grad.

253 Profile Views; 13 Posts

Hey y’all,

I’m a new grad and am interviewing and applying like crazy right now. I see an offer for a corrections nurse. Does anyone have any experience with this or any insight? 

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

9 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,278 Posts; 107,826 Profile Views

@Jah Jah if you select specialties in the list of forum subgroups, you will find forums dedicated to a wealth of nursing specialties, including several you've asked about where many have shared their experiences

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Jah Jah has 1 years experience and specializes in New Grad.

13 Posts; 253 Profile Views

Thank you Rose!

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Noodle411 has 4 years experience as a ADN, RN.

6 Posts; 1,332 Profile Views

From 2014-2016, I worked in state correctional facility, in the Long-Term Care units run by Corizon, a contracted company. I worked strictly per diem and worked a variety of shifts. Since I'm not sure how they do things in other facilities, so I can only share my experience. What I learned based on my experience:

Correctional nursing is nursing with the added emphasis of safety -- yours and the correctional officers (COs) FIRST. So, a person may initially experience ethical conflicts with how patient care is delivered. There were no curtains for privacy. When delivering care, general room lights must be on and the door must remain open. There were times when staff was required to have a second person (another nurse, CAN, or CO) to be in the room for various reasons, ex: the patient might be Keep-Lock (they had behavior issues, so a privilege is taken away), or you have to provide care on their groin parts (so you can't be accused of being inappropriate). Inmates are considered a vulnerable population, so they must be protected. There may be times when it is deemed by a CO that a security/safety issue is at hand, and you need to stop whatever you're doing and leave the room, and you and your staff need to leave the room regardless of any medically necessary issues that you deem more important.

The other thing about security is that there are no cell phones allowed in the prison. Everyone leaves their phone in their car for the duration of their shift as it's not allowed for anyone, not even the correctional officers. When I first started, I had forgotten twice to leave my phone in my car, so I had to trudge all the way back to my car and leave it there. Staff were given a telephone code for their own use only, so we can call out to the pharmacy, lab, or the NP/MD. Staff were allowed to make personal phone calls under the assumption that we won't abuse the privilege. Also, staff should always have ID on their person, otherwise, they’d have to get someone from their unit to come get them and escort them to their unit. 

Staff are transferred/passed a set of keys to use when they arrive (usually after report), and they surrender them to someone else before they leave the building. Many doors are locked, including the nurse’s station. Tip: Do not lose your keys, otherwise, the entire prison goes into a Lockdown where no one can come in or leave until the keys have been found - it can be nerve-wracking. I lost my keys once, but luckily a colleague had found it right away. They waited for me to realize that my keys were lost, waited for me to panic, then returned my keys to me, saying, "Now you'll never lose them again." 

My orientation was one week-long, which involved a good chunk being dedicated to Security Training -- keeping yourself and your co-workers safe while delivering patient care. There was also a training on Prison Rape Elimination. Then, the other half of the orientation was on medication safety, skills refresher, getting signed off on clinical skills. We were also given a tour of the facility. Security training is done once a year.

Because of security, there was no electronic documentation system as they do in most other facilities. I don’t know if that is still the case since it’s been a few years. We used paper flow sheets for a lot of things - assessments, med admin, treatment admin (a lot of initialing). We also handwrote progress notes for those: under hospice care, under Keep-Lock, under contact precautions, who have something new going on. One thing to note: Because of the litigious nature of patients and their families, keeping good documentation was highly stressed. There might be 3 pieces of paper that you would have to complete for a person who had a fall.

Relating to patients: There tends to be a lot of manipulative behavior among patients, as you can imagine. So, the best approach is to always be aware of your surroundings, use assertive body language and facial expressions. Be kind, do the job, BUT don't be overly-nice either (don't do them any favors of any kind -- if it's not medically necessary or a professional duty, don't do it). Your colleagues may warn you that you're "too nice," but don't let that dissuade you - if you're not compromising your professional ethics, you should be fine. Just be mindful of your security. You might hear stories of how an inmate manipulated a staff to do certain things for them (favors) - started as a benign request, then it would get progressively worse. Just remember: FIRM, FAIR, and CONSISTENT.

Relating to colleagues: Please and thank yous go a long way in my experience. Many of my colleagues felt under-appreciated, seems to me. And many of them thanked me for thanking them after a long shift. It goes without saying that it's important to not disclose any personal information about yourself to the patients, but in my experience, it's also important to be vague about your personal life with your colleagues. Some staff have mistakenly disclosed personal information to a patient about their colleagues. Inmates have phone access to the outside world, so it's best to keep your personal life outside the prison walls entirely, just my advice since it has happened to me that someone disclosed my info to a patient and I was very upset about it. Ultimately, nothing came of it, but the potential outcomes can be scary.

Lunch – the facility had a cafeteria, which they referred to as the “officer's mess hall,” but it was only open during School Hours, and closed on School Holidays -- I can't explain it. There were vending machines outside the unit, but who wants to eat that crap. Best advice is to bring lunch and drinks. We were lucky to have a nice break room with a full-size fridge, a microwave, a toaster oven, water cooler. Good to bring food, drinks, and extra protein bars or whatever in case you get mandated. It's rare, but it did happen for me.

I hope this has been helpful. I took the time to write this because there were stuff that I wish I had known before-hand. It wasn’t a bad place to work, but just be wary. 

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

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152 Posts; 791 Profile Views

Is it difficult getting hired o to corrections as a new grad?  Everywhere I read states the eligibility requires a couple years of nursing experience; in particularly in a specialty, plus certain certifications, etc.  

I will be graduating with an ADN from USC/LA County nursing school (LA County Hospital) and then I will have a BSN a year later.  

I would like to get my pension started.  Do I need to wait to apply until I have years experience? 

Did you just apply online as a random person? Did you follow up in person or over the phone? 
How long did it take to hear back once applying online?

I have a 1203.4 on my record, which is a dismissal from an old case decades ago.  County overlooks this.  Would federal?

Thank you!

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starmickey03 has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN.

619 Posts; 10,764 Profile Views

8 hours ago, Overcast said:

Is it difficult getting hired o to corrections as a new grad?  Everywhere I read states the eligibility requires a couple years of nursing experience; in particularly in a specialty, plus certain certifications, etc.  

I have a 1203.4 on my record, which is a dismissal from an old case decades ago.  County overlooks this.  Would federal?

Thank you!

In your area it may be harder to get hired as a new grad but only because there are so many graduates. I'm in Phoenix and I know that new grads are hired in county corrections here (pension). The prisons do as well but medical is contracted out and not state ran so there's no pension, just 401k that the contracted company offers.

As far as the dismissal, federal will overlook it as long as its disclosed and you dont try to hide it. They do a very thorough background check (including credit) so better to be upfront anyway. I've heard that people have gotten walked off the job for lying on their application. I'm actually going through the process for getting hired into the San Diego MCC now. Its a long process. Oh, and you have to have your BSN to get in with federal.

Edited by starmickey03

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Hey well I applied with the state as a new grad back in early November and I have an interview next week.  I also interviewed last month with the county of San Diego to work at one of their correctional facilities and moved on to the second phase of the hiring process...so to answer your question yes they do hire new grads 

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1 hour ago, monylo32 said:

Hey well I applied with the state as a new grad back in early November and I have an interview next week.  I also interviewed last month with the county of San Diego to work at one of their correctional facilities and moved on to the second phase of the hiring process...so to answer your question yes they do hire new grads 

Thank you for your response... I‘d definitely consider working for a county prison, but I was more interested in a federal prison.  The federal pension plan and benefits are amazing, but county offers pretty good options also. LA County Hospital plus a few other well known hospitals in LA offer pension plans in addition to a 401K option... but a federal employee takes the cake.
Congrats on your interviews!  Is it the county jail?  May I ask if you have a BSN?  What do you think made your resume stick out?

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10 hours ago, starmickey03 said:

In your area it may be harder to get hired as a new grad but only because there are so many graduates. I'm in Phoenix and I know that new grads are hired in county corrections here (pension). The prisons do as well but medical is contracted out and not state ran so there's no pension, just 401k that the contracted company offers.

As far as the dismissal, federal will overlook it as long as its disclosed and you dont try to hide it. They do a very thorough background check (including credit) so better to be upfront anyway. I've heard that people have gotten walked off the job for lying on their application. I'm actually going through the process for getting hired into the San Diego MCC now. Its a long process. Oh, and you have to have your BSN to get in with federal.

Well that’s a bummer to hear about them outsourcing from a staffing agency...but I’m not surprised! Thank you for your response and details.

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1 hour ago, Overcast said:

Thank you for your response... I‘d definitely consider working for a county prison, but I was more interested in a federal prison.  The federal pension plan and benefits are amazing, but county offers pretty good options also. LA County Hospital plus a few other well known hospitals in LA offer pension plans in addition to a 401K option... but a federal employee takes the cake.
Congrats on your interviews!  Is it the county jail?  May I ask if you have a BSN?  What do you think made your resume stick out?

Thanks!! I don’t have my bsn yet but with state and county jobs they are hiring those with an adn.  So I applied to the county jails but also to the state prison.   As you already know the federal jobs do require BSN.  Honestly my resume I don’t think stuck out that much. Corrections is an environment not many want to work so that’s why they don’t shy away from new grads.

 

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On 1/3/2020 at 1:47 AM, monylo32 said:

Thanks!! I don’t have my BSN yet but with state and county jobs they are hiring those with an adn.  So I applied to the county jails but also to the state prison.   As you already know the federal jobs do require BSN.  Honestly my resume I don’t think stuck out that much. Corrections is an environment not many want to work so that’s why they don’t shy away from new grads.

I see... thank you again.  Please keep us updated on how it goes!

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ocean.baby has 25 years experience and specializes in corrections and LTC.

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Corrections is a great field to work.  You can advance in so many areas and the opportunities are great, especially if you can travel or move with the company.  If you work for the state, there are always open positions that involve a raise. 

As a staff nurse - you need to have great assessment skills.  You will see the inmate and decide if they need to see the doctor.  You have a lot to learn, so don't act like a know-it all, ask questions and be open to learning from the other nurses and the providers, not to mention the officers. 

Develop a good working relationship with security - mutual respect.  If you screw up, admit it and thank them for catching it.  They are who will teach you how to stay safe, don't listen to them and it will be you who suffers. 

Prisons and jails are totally different, some nurses prefer jails, I prefer prisons.  I don't like the fast revolving door of jails where I feel I am chasing my tail all of the time.  I like the prisons where you actually get to know and help those that want it.

Good luck to you!

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