In Correctional Nursing

If you’re a seasoned nurse seeking a new professional opportunity, you may be a good fit for correctional nursing. While both put the patient first, treating inmates has unique challenges. While you may love connecting with patients on a personal level, it is often discouraged from getting too close to inmates for safety reasons. If you love working as a team to solve problems and support patients, then corrections could be a good fit for you. It is a personal decision, and each decision has its perks and can advance your career.

Traditional Nursing to Corrections 

As a travel corrections nurse, you must follow a safety protocol upon entering the facility, the extent of which will vary from place to place. This is largely dependent on the type of population housed in the facility, so a maximum-security prison will have more security checks before you ever enter a patient area than a minimum-security prison. This is to protect you and will take more time than entering the traditional hospital. If you’re not comfortable with the possibility of leaving certain personal belongings with security while you work, then we recommend asking for clarification before signing a corrections contract.

As a corrections nurse, you will be required to follow strict safety protocols while entering the building as well as while you’re working. It’s all about keeping everyone safe from harm.

Corrections Nurse Rachel was asked what advice she would give someone thinking about transitioning from traditional nursing to corrections, and she said, “Stick to policies and procedures…set limits. If an inmate is cursing, yelling, or becomes threatening, end your visit and let the correctional team take over. You are not working for a hospital, and allowing intimidation or verbal abuse will get out to other inmates in the yard.”

This can also be different than working at a traditional hospital where you are practicing in a specialty. As a corrections nurse, you may be asked to triage, treat, and manage healthcare for various needs in one shift. Being flexible and fast on your feet is critical in this environment. While you are treating people who need you, it is important to set boundaries. This includes not talking too deeply about your personal life and following safety protocols. If you have questions, reach out to your recruiter and on-site supervisor.

As a travel corrections nurse, you work more collaboratively with non-medical staff and other medical professionals than in traditional nursing. This ensures the safety of you, your colleagues, and the inmates.

Corrections Nurse Sarah was asked what she likes most about being a corrections nurse, and she said, “I love the feeling of teamwork. Everyone works together; it doesn’t matter that I am a traveler. I like that I have been assigned to one unit, so I know what to expect each shift. The scheduling is consistent and fair, and there’s an opportunity for me to pick up overtime if I want. They always ask me first if I want to pick it up.”

As a traditional travel nurse, you are the new person on every new contract. You may feel out of place or treated differently than shift nurses. As Sarah has said, you may feel more camaraderie as a corrections nurse because of the population being served. It may take more people to calm or resolve a situation than in a non-prison hospital.

You may also need to be creative in treating patients based on available resources, such as people, medical equipment, or technology. Corrections may be a good fit for you if you like finding solutions in high-stress situations.

Because the environments can be vastly different, take stock of how you feel throughout the transition. Self-care and coping strategies are of the utmost importance. You can’t take care of patients, in prison or not, if you don’t care for yourself. On your days off, take time to meditate, exercise, and do activities that are not related to work. Ask the prison staff how they handle stress and burnout. Find a routine that works for you, and if needed, seek professional counseling.

Choosing to transition from traditional nursing to corrections is a personal decision based on career preferences, goals, and circumstances. Each has its benefits and challenges and can move your career forward. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact AB Staffing, and a recruiter will contact you.

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