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Correctional Nursing: What To Know Before Getting Started

4 minMarch, 15 2021

Have you contemplated stepping into the role of a correctional nurse? If so, here are some crucial insights to help you determine if it aligns with your skills, personality, and professional aspirations.

The Responsibilities of a Correctional Nurse

Correctional nurses, employed within correctional facilities, hold roles similar to those in primary care practices. They are tasked with addressing a diverse range of medical issues among inmates, necessitating adept multitasking and comprehensive knowledge of various ailments and injuries. Given the elevated prevalence of substance abuse and mental health conditions among incarcerated individuals, these nurses often require specialized training in these areas.

The Advantages of Correctional Nursing

1. Security Within the Environment:

Contrary to common perceptions, correctional facilities boast some of the most stringent security protocols, ensuring a relatively safe working environment. Moreover, inmates typically recognize nurses as allies in their healthcare journey, minimizing the likelihood of violence directed towards medical staff.

2. Appreciation for Service:

Incarcerated individuals often have limited access to healthcare, leading them to deeply value the assistance provided by medical professionals. Correctional nurses frequently develop close bonds with their patients, receiving profound appreciation for delivering essential care often scarce within carceral settings.

3. Diverse Medical Challenges:

For nurses seeking diversity in medical cases, correctional nursing offers a broad spectrum of conditions to manage. In addition to mental health and substance abuse issues, inmates commonly present with ailments stemming from substandard living conditions, including tuberculosis, gastrointestinal problems, and dental issues. According to Healthy People 2030, “when compared to the general population, people of both sexes who are incarcerated are more likely to have high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, and arthritis”.

4. Engaging Work Environment:

Correctional facilities offer a distinctive professional atmosphere, distinct from traditional medical settings like hospitals. Nurses here navigate a balance between healthcare provision and security imperatives, requiring them to collaborate with peers and administration to ensure optimal patient care.


Is Correctional Nursing Your Calling? Key Skills for Success

Reflecting on the unique demands of correctional nursing, certain traits emerge as essential for thriving in this environment:

1. Intelligence:

Correctional nurses must possess astute clinical judgment to address diverse medical needs while adhering to rigorous safety protocols and navigating complex interpersonal dynamics.

2. Confidence:

Given the multifaceted nature of correctional nursing, confidence is paramount. Nurses must exude self-assurance to effectively manage the challenges inherent in this environment.

3. Assertiveness:

With strong personalities prevalent among both staff and inmates, correctional nurses must assertively advocate for their patients' needs, refusing to be intimidated or coerced by any individuals encountered in their line of work.

Is Correctional Nursing Right for You?

If the prospect of correctional nursing intrigues you, explore the Scope and Standards of Correctional Nursing 3rd Edition for a comprehensive understanding of the profession's unique challenges and opportunities. This invaluable resource offers insights to help you navigate this rewarding yet demanding career path.

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