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Correctional Facility Nurse: Education and Career Information

If you are interested in law enforcement and have the desire to work in a jail or other facility to assist those in custody, you may have a career as a correctional facility nurse. This is a position that is in great demand, and can be quite lucrative. There is a dire need for nurses who are not afraid to work amongst inmates, and caring for them and their healthcare needs is important. This is a regular nurse, just working in the correctional facility environment. The nurse is responsible for a variety of tasks and duties that may go beyond the norm of a nurse working in a standard hospital.

What does a correctional facility nurse do?

A correctional facility nurse cares for patients who are incarcerated or detained. They work with the medical team in providing treatment of trauma, health problems, substance abuse and mental illness. These nurses are diligent in their assessment and recommendation of care, and take the time to educate patients on how to stay infection free. These nurses are able to perform both routine and emergency medical procedures. This type of nurse must be ready and able at a moment’s notice to contact correctional officers if the inmates are becoming unruly. These nurses handle paperwork, which is very detailed, can administer IVs and other medications per the physician, and performs all the duties of a standard nurse you may find in the hospital. You will find correctional facility nurses in detention centers, temporary holding facilities, prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers and boot camps.

How much does a correctional facility nurse earn?

The average salary for this position is $77,000, which is 17 percent above what a general nurse may make. This will vary based on education, location, and facility. This nursing role is somewhat dangerous, which calls for higher pay.

What types of skills are needed to become a correctional facility nurse?

Communication Skills: Communication skills are vital. This role works closely with patients and other medical professionals to ensure every need is being met and the care plan is carried out successfully. They must be able to disseminate, comprehend and gather information from all parties about the needs and condition of the patient to make sure they are receiving the care they need.

Decision-Making Skills: The nurse must be able to make sound decisions and use good judgment. This is essential in being able to perform efficiently and productively. They must be able to handle stress well, and handle issues as they arise. They must be able to assess a situation going on in the detention center and determine whether or not they need to remove themselves. They must be able to react quickly.

Computer Skills: Technology skills are a must, as the medical field relies heavily on the use of technology to keep track of patient records, administer medications, keep reports and changes, and other vital information. This role is highly administrative, which means they are held accountable for the accuracy of records and monitoring the conditions of the patients. They must be able to quickly grasp new software and be adaptable to change.

Clinical Skills: A nurse must have excellent clinical skills, which are needed to successfully do the job.

Self defense: Without question, the nurse must be trained in self-defense. This role is very dangerous, and the nurse must be confident enough in their self-defense training to make a difference.

There are other skills needed for this role. The correctional facility nurse must be able to successfully conduct a dental assessment, ear assessment, administer and read an EKG, use the machine to detect labor, delivery and fetal heart tones, administer respiratory treatments, be able to outfit inmates with a cast, administer TB skin testing, and address issues with the skin, such as infection or some form of infestations.

Internship Requirements

There are clinical requirements in the nursing program that are necessary in order to finish the required program. The amount of internship hours required is dependent on the program and whether or not additional specializations are needed.

Education Requirements

Students wishing to become a correctional facility nurse go through the standard nursing program, which results in a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. The students learn a variety of skills and techniques to be successful in this field. Students will complete coursework in microbiology, epidemiology, statistics, anatomy and physiology, and healthcare policy. After completing the program, students are required to sit for and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed. Once the student obtains the license, they should prepare to get work experience. This means getting some experience working in a hospital to see what occurs and how to navigate the system.

Once the nurse starts working, they should consider a master’s level degree program. The coursework for this program includes health assessment, pathophysiology and pharmacology. Correctional facility nurses go through additional training, such as safety and security, psychology and other courses that will prepare the nurse for interaction with the detainees and inmates.

Once the nurse is hired to work in the facility, they must get a certain amount of experience to become a Certified Correctional Health Professional. To obtain this certification, the nurse must study and sit for the exam. Obtaining this certification demonstrates you are willing to make this nursing opportunity a career. There are interesting things to learn while working in a correctional facility. The experience gained from this role is not only beneficial, but can lead to greater opportunities down the road.

If you are interested in learning more about the correctional facility and how their medical programs work, doing the coursework and gaining experience in this field is the best solution. For the right person, the level of dedication and detail-to-attention is very important. This is a lucrative path that has room to grow and the leverage to educate others.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

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* Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information


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