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21 December

Things To Know Before Becoming a Correctional Nurse

Have you ever thought for serving the inmates confined within the prison? Have you ever considered the possibility of becoming a nurse for the criminals? Well if you are a nurse, one of the rewarding opportunities for you is to serve as a correctional nurse. Patients within confinement facilities are often neglected which makes correctional nurses a necessity for such environments.

When an individual considers nursing as a profession, it is fair for many to not consider correctional nursing as an option. However, it needs to be understood that this challenging yet rewarding option within the NHS is a viable choice for candidates that possess a designated set of skills and disposition.

While the job of a correctional nurse is as dangerous as a correctional officer, but it still has various merits making it a popular career of choice. Many times correctional nursing is considered to be a dangerous profession but in reality it is not. Most inmates understand that a correctional nurse is there to help them and ease their suffering. Therefore, the probability of causing them harm is low. Moreover, with the level of security within prisons, the chances of physical harm are negligible.

Practicing medicine in a prison setting is a daunting and vulnerable task. However, the professional and personal rewards are well worth the effort. Individuals who decide to become a correctional nurse can make a substantial and sound impact in the lives of those who are suffering and neglected.

It's a known fact that correctional nursing is not meant for everyone, but those nurses who are comfortable with the idea of working in correctional facilities may consider it to be a lucrative option.

What Is A Correctional Nurse?

A correctional nurse is one of the most demanding and rewarding position within the health care sector. While a majority of nursing professionals may not see their future behind bars, but choosing this option will definitely be rewarding for them professionally as it prepares them for critical patient care.

With the number of individuals in the correctional facilities increasing on an everyday basis, the need of correctional nurses is greater than ever. Like all normal humans, these convicts have medical needs that need to be addressed by professionals trained to deal with medical cases. Thereby, a correctional nurse plays a pivotal role in the life of inmates.

The Role of a Correctional Nurse

Prison nurses are employed by the NHS or the prison can also directly appoint them if need be. Over the past couple of years, health services are binded contractually with third party employers who take care of the recruitment.

In a majority of ways, prison nursing has similarity with primary care practice work giving nurses an opportunity to cater to the varying needs of those who are suffering. However, specialist with in-depth experience and exposure are generally valued as correctional nurses. Within confinement facilities, the ratio of patients dealing with substance abuse and combating mental ailments in higher. Thereby, the need for qualified professionals increasing instrumentally.

To work as a prison nurse, you will require adequate qualification and registration from distinctive bodies. Moreover, having trainings in mental health, adult nursing or learning disabilities is a plus point. You also need to comply with basic immigration and legal laws to practice professionally.

Once you are employed, you will get trainings on various prison related aspects along with normal professional development activities. You will also get the opportunity to take specific workshops on vocational activities, healthcare management leadership, transcultural health care, etc. shaping your skill set and vision.

The Responsibilities of a Prison Nurse

To work as a prison nurse, the staff needs to be mentally flexible and can multitask with different responsibilities simultaneously. Moreover, they should be able to demonstrate their expertise and knowledge on various complex medical conditions. For this, one needs to be receptive to learning and have different people and custodial skills. This will help in maintaining and fostering relationships with colleagues and team members.

For a correctional nurse, you will be expected to make quick decisions and offer quality care while ensuring control and security. Moreover, you will get a chance to understand the emotional and environmental needs of prisoners.

Why Correctional Nursing Is the Right Choice for You

You Have an Inborn Talent of Getting People to Confess

Have been the inquisitive one knowing when something was up with your little one or sibling? Were you the one getting all the juicy news out from your loved ones? Well then, you are the ideal candidate for a correctional nurse.

Most correctional patients have something to hide such as usage of drugs, suicide contemplation or alcohol consumption, etc. Those nurses that can obtain honest responses to questions pertaining to psychological, social or medical history tend to do well in the field.

You Are the Smartest of the Lot

Were you sharp and had the six sense to figure about pranks that people wanted to pull out on you? Were you always able to lure your mates to share their assignments with you? Well, if you check these boxes then you further qualify to become a correctional nurse.

You Don't Get Surprised or Embarrassed Easily

When growing up, you were that person hose whose friends were able to confide in you without having to worry about embarrassment or the fear of being judged? Were you tolerant about bodily fluids and comfortable with bathroom humor whilst interacting with siblings? If yes, you are destined to become a correctional nurse.

You Won't Be Bullied

Were you always against bullies where timid people seeking protection took shelter under you? Were you the one seeking justice for those who have been victimized? Do you root for the underdog when watching any classic? Behold! Your future as a correctional nurse seems fairly bright.

You Can Easily Balance Work and Personal Life

Have you been able to balance the craziness that life awaits for you? Do you have purpose and direction in your life? Were you the pillar of sensibility when the world fell apart for your loved ones? If the answer is yes, you were meant to be a correctional nurse.

Things You Need To Know Before Becoming a Correctional Nurse

1. A Safe Option for Nurses

Most correctional nurses are often asked about how is it to work as a nurse within a jail or prison. Regardless, despite being patients, they are criminals after all. It needs to be understood that the security processes within correctional facilities ensures greater security of the staff. There are numerous officers that are simply assigned to protect the safety of the staff in the medical unit where patients are considered to be violent beings.

Most correctional nurses feel that they are safe in such an environment instead of working in other settings where security may not be as strict or vigilant. However, a correctional nurse needs to stay alert to remain safe and secure.

2. Majority of the Patients Appreciate Your Efforts

Most prisoners are exposed to little to no healthcare treatment in most correctional facilities. If they have a correctional nurse within premise, they realize its importance and appreciate the attention and care they get from them. Many prisoners have little health care prior to being incarcerated and appreciate the attention given while 'inside.' In addition, incarceration is a dehumanizing and demoralizing experience.

A nurse be profession is focused on the wellbeing of her patients. A nurse tries his/her best to offer the best of services. Thereby, prisoners value their contribution and value the nursing staff.

3. You Get To Witness Intriguing Medical Situations

While working in a correctional facility, you get to witness interesting cases. For instance, many prisoners live in subpar conditions with pure health amenities paving way for untreated conditions. Moreover, their time spent on streets can cause ailments like tuberculosis, leprosy and more. Moreover, many stomach and bowel related disorders have also been noted due to the prison hooch.

In prisons, dental problems are also common. Therefore, specialist in dental issues are often needed within correctional facilities.

4. You Get To Work on Your Own Terms

Majority of the nurses’ work in environments where the top management is focused on health care. However, this is not the case in correctional facilities.

Since the medical unit is a support service offered to patients in prison and the senior management is more concerned about the overall safety. Thereby, as a nurse, you will have to negotiate with peers and administration for the welfare of your patients.

5. Managing Stress at Work

Nursing is a stressful profession, but working in a correctional facility is far more stressful. The patients are often victim of trauma, neglect and abuse. Therefore, as a person observing everything, you are likely to absorb the stress around you.

At times, nurses cripple due to the compassion fatigue and the everyday pain and suffering of the people around you. As a nurse, you need to give more time to self-care for your overall wellbeing.

How to Become a Correctional Nurse?

To work for the position of a correctional nurse, a registered and licensed nurse must comply with certain credentials. Moreover, they need to have ample experience and must specialized in correctional training in order to be selected.

The right candidate need to have interest in correctional work with relevant experience in emergency nursing and medical surgical nursing.

It is extremely rare for newly licensed nurses to start their career with this role since in most situations, the nurse is the only healthcare professional within the correctional facility. Therefore, they are required to handle the varying needs of patients in a relatively intense workplace.

The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) provides nurses with CCHP-RN certification in correctional nursing. To be eligible to become a correctional nurse, the CCHP-RN eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Current CCHP certification
  • Current and active RN license
  • The equivalent of two years full-time practice as a registered nurse
  • 2,000 hours of practice in a correctional setting within the last three years
  • 54 hours of continuing education in nursing, with 18 specific to correctional health care, within the last three years

Salary Expectations

As per RegisteredNursing.org, a correctional nurse on an average makes almost $68,000. The number may vary according to the state you are dwelling in, work experience, certifications along with the type of correctional facility.

For nurses aspiring to grow in this profession, correctional nursing is likely to embrace rapid growth in the upcoming decade. As far is incarceration will remain, it will be the need to have such nurses that serve the purpose.

Risks Involved For Nurses

One of the primary barriers that stops people from making a career in correctional nursing are the different dangers and risks that are associated with such an environment. However, one needs to understand that this is a misconception, since the support staff and correctional officers are there for your security all the time. The officers are there to help and intervene whenever a nurse may deem right.

Prison nurses are part of a team comprising of line managers, wardens, team leaders. Vicars, priests, etc. This means that there is extremely low chances of them to work alone or on their own.


Those individuals who decide to work as a correctional nurse will have numerous opportunities for them in the long term. This is majorly because good prison nurses are always in demand. Often a regular shift pattern is developed within a facility, while others may be posted from one place to another depending on the need.

There is a partnership between NHS and prison service which indicates that the development and work opportunities are available within both organization simultaneously. This gives them the ability to specialize in different areas of expertise.

On the other hand, the biggest reward that are associated with correctional nursing is that you get the opportunity to make a difference in the life of those people who are suffering. You help those who are cut off from the society and give them a chance to recover physically and mentally.