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Correctional Nursing: What you need to know before getting started

Correctional Nursing: What you need to know before getting started

By: American Nurses Association

Have you considered a role as a correctional nurse? If so, this blog will help identify it is a good fit for your skills, personality, and whether it is a work environment that you would thrive in.


The Roles of a Correctional Nurse

Prison nurses are employed by the NHS, and in some ways, share similarities with primary care practices, because the nurses get to deal with a wide variety of ailments. A correctional nurse must be able to deal with multitasking and demonstrate knowledge of a wide variety of ailments and injuries. Behind bars, often the ratio of patients dealing with substance abuse or mental illness is higher, therefore, prison nurses must also have training in these areas as well.


The Positive Side of Correctional Nursing


     1. A Safe Environment

While it may sound like this would be a highly dangerous profession, prisons have some of the most stringent security measures in place, far up and above other work environments. Also, inmates understand that nurses are there to help them and ease their pain, so the likelihood that they would exhibit violence toward their medical professional is very low.


     2. Appreciation for Your Work

Prisoners often have little to no exposure to healthcare treatment and therefore they realize the importance of those caring for them. As a nurse in a correctional facility, they often get to know their patients as they treat them on a regular basis, and they are highly appreciated for providing services these inmates may have infrequently experienced in the past.


      3. Wide Range of Medical Issues

Nurses who like to work with a wide variety of medical ailments may enjoy the variety they experience in a correctional setting. As mentioned, prisoners may deal with mental health or drug additions, but many have also experienced inadequate living conditions which can lead to common problems with tuberculosis, leprosy, stomach or bowel issues, dental problems, etc.


     4. Interesting Environment

For nurses who love what they do, but maybe aren’t in love with the overarching hierarchy of medical facilities such as hospitals, correctional facilities may provide a unique balance. Also, unlike a medical facility, a prison is primarily focused on security and safety. As a nurse, this may mean negotiating with peers and administration in order to properly treat patients, adding a bit of proactivity to the job description.


Is it for You? 3 Skills Correctional Nurses Should Have

After highlighting a bit more of the unique attributes of working in a correctional facility, let us now highlight the types of people who thrive in these environments. Nurses in correctional facilities must be:

  • Smart: They have to deal with ailments and injuries of all shapes and sizes as well as navigate additional safety procedures, and deal with the various personalities of administration, correctional officers and criminals alike.


  • Confident: While this environment is interesting, it is also complex, therefore a nurse has to be self-confident and can’t be easily embarrassed, surprised or unnerved.


  • Self-Assured: This environment can also be riddled with strong-personalities, therefore a nurse must be able to hold their own and stand their ground, not allowing themselves to be bullied by anyone they may come into contact with.


Is correctional nursing for you? If you’re interested, don’t miss our Scope and Standards, Correctional Nursing 3rd Edition, now available here.  Therein, the unique challenges that Correctional Nurses face are outlined, explored, and advised upon, and will be an invaluable resource!

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