Would you reccommend correctional nursing?

Specialties Correctional


What specifically keeps you going back day after day?

What's different from med/surg nursing?

What are you're work conditions like?

Orca, ADN, ASN, RN

2,066 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC.

In my opinion, correctional nursing is one of the best kept secrets in health care. Being a nurse in a prison is not unlike working in a small town clinic. You provide the services for that community, regardless of what comes up - everything from cuts and scrapes to major emergencies. In contrast to med-surg nursing, unless you work in a place with a full-blown medical unit your patients won't be as acute. You won't get fresh post-ops, and you won't be buried with admissions during your shift. Our admission process is pretty simple. If someone is admitted to the infirmary the medical chart is already built, and you add an intake note and carry out any new orders. We also do not call nurses off for low census. One down side is that we recently initiated one day per month of unpaid furlough leave for medical staff due to the state's budget problems.

Because of the degree of independence involved correctional nursing is not a good choice for a first job, in my opinion. My state (Nevada) does not hire new grads for our nursing positions. The position announcements have a stated requirement for at least one year of experience.

Correctional nursing is never dull. No two days are exactly alike, and every time you believe you have seen it all, something new pops up. Having done both corrections and hospital nursing, I would not willingly return to the hospital.


5 Posts

I am an RN in a county jail and I would never use the word "relaxed" to describe my job.

We assess, triage, and treat inmates; while at the same time we must consider the inmate's motives, mental health, addictions, legal problems, and our own safety!!

We are the first to deal with any medical complaint from an inmate!

We are Mental Health, E.R., Med.-Surg., and Community Health nurses all roled up into one.

We do not have the luxury of an M.D. on duty 24/7 to make crucial life or death decisions!

We decide if an imate must be sent out for emergency medical service and then we must be ready to explain or defend every step of our decision making process.

We deal with inmates who will lie, cheat, and manipulate, just to break up the monotony of their own day.

We must also police the inmates so they don't "cheek" their meds in order to stockpile or use as currency.

We have inmates who never have or never would take a pill, but because they are now in jail and "entitled to health care" will take advantage of every free handout they can get.

This is not a "relaxed" nursing job! This is a fast paced and demanding job which requires you to utilize all of your nursing skills while working autonomously!

Hi, Correctional nursing is difficult for several reasons;

you need to have exceptional assessment skills, independent thinking, and deal with non medical people on a continual basis (security and administration and on occassion visitors) telling you how to do your job. The challenge is a big one but personally rewarding. You also need to have a thick skin so to speak. Also be a step ahead of the inmate games if you will. I think it takes a special nurse to be in corrections and one that can focus independently but yet be there for their coworkers who can be in trouble. I would not recommend this kind of nursing to new grads. as there is alot of lives depending on them (inmates and coworkers); that is overwhelming enough and alot of pressure for a new grad. I am going on 19 yrs with corrections and the only thing I find difficult is dealing with a non nursing administration. Hope this helps any decisions you are having to make.

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