Behind the Bars: Getting to Know Correctional Nurses
What is correctional nursing?
Correctional nursing is a nursing specialty which involves treating imprisoned patients held in facilities such as prisons, halfway houses and juvenile detention centers.
Registered nurses who serve to provide care to prisoners require unique knowledge, skills, and expertise. A correctional nurse meets the same requirements as either registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) however, an additional certificate may be earned to improve employment opportunities. They may also need additional training such as strategies for interacting with offenders and the nurses’ role in non-medical emergencies.
Correctional nurses perform many of the same tasks as nursing professionals who work in traditional medical establishments as they aim to provide sufficient health care through assessment, diagnosis and treatment of inmates. They may also have more independence than other nursing specialists since the work environment leads to a smaller staff. And because there is accessibility to fewer supplies, correctional nurses are encouraged to hone their assessment skills.
Duties if correctional nurses often include:
- maintaining proper safety procedures;
- properly monitoring medical supplies, like needles and medication. In order to maximize overall safety, correctional nurses learn to limit the use of potentially dangerous materials, like scalpels and intravenous drips;
- monitoring patients’ progress and responses to medical treatments;
- administering medication;
- maintaining disease clinics;
- documenting patient medical histories.
How does one become a correctional nurse?
In order to become one, you must first finish all necessary requirements in 3-5 years, depending on the specific route you select. You can choose to complete an undergraduate program in nursing from a vocational training program or accredited college. RNs must have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing, while LPNs need to complete a training program approved by the state, which community or junior colleges typically offer.
You must then take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). You can then enhance your employment prospects by receiving optional certification from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. Becoming a Certified Correctional Health Professional requires passing an exam. Renewal is then done every year through completing continuing education activities.