Nursing in Corrections
January 10, 2013
This is the beginning of my fifth year as a Nurse in Corrections, seventh year as a nurse.
It is a field I feel I was born to work in.
I cannot imagine being a nurse anywhere else.
I have learned over these years that Correctional nursing is the forgotten field.
Sure, there is a chapter somewhere at the end of course work that has the sentence “Some nurses work in corrections. They deal with drug seekers, murderers, and have to have a good background in psych”.
While this sentence is true, there is so much more to see, do, live through, and laugh about on a daily basis.
“What do you do?”
This age old question was one I dreamed of being asked when I was in nursing school.
I imagined myself smiling and saying “I am a nurse” and the person asking would ahh at me and tell me how wonderful that was and start asking questions about what I do at work and how great it is to save lives.
Fast forward seven years post graduation.
The day dream is half true, but the follow up questions quickly end when I say “I work in corrections”.
After I receive blank stares I quickly jump in and start telling how amazing my job really is.
Daily I have to be ready to be a first responder/ paramedic, OB nurse, psych nurse, geriatric nurse, wound care specialist, STD clinic nurse, advanced stage HIV/HEP C nurse, dialysis nurse, cancer nurse, cardiac nurse, post op nurse, orthopedic nurse, lab tech, diabetic educator, good cop, bad cop, and medication extraordinaire.
“Being in corrections means I have to stay on top of the latest diseases, treatments, medications and know how to execute with limited resources.”
My last 12 hour shift I literally fulfilled each of these rolls.
Some of them at the same time! Can you say that about your last shift?
My days aren’t ever the same and are never boring. I also know I am safe.
My friends that work in ERs and even floor nurses talk about being alone with their patients and feeling threatened.
I am never alone! I have an officer with me at all times. I also have the privilege of ending a conversation, locking the door and walking away until the inmate calms down.
Being in corrections means I have to stay on top of the latest diseases, treatments, medications and know how to execute with limited resources.
I have to be security minded while remembering the person before me is someone’s family.
Correctional nursing is a privilege that not too many people will experience. It is a career I will retire from because I wouldn’t work anywhere else.