This brief video news clip of Health Care at Chino Prison Facility in California underscores some of the challenges of delivering health care behind bars. Note the medical records issues. Many jails and prisons still rely on paper charts but do not have enough staff to keep up with the filing, thus jeopardizing care delivery. What other challenges do you see in the video presentation?
Potential Interview Questions
Earlier I posted on what you should look for when interviewing for a correctional nursing job. Here in Part II, I’ll help you prepare for the interview by developing responses to some common interview questions. These questions were suggested by members of the Specialty Forum for Correctional Nurses at the All Nurses web community. I highly recommend that website and forum for more interview help.
How do you feel about providing care for inmates?
This is a good question to ponder before you apply for a position in corrections. The environment is challenging and you want to be sure there is a good match. Many who thrive in the corrections specialty consider their role in caring for the disadvantaged or their impact on public health.
Why do you want to work in a correctional facility?
Develop some positive and constructive answers to this question. Some possibilities might be enjoying a challenge, desiring to work in a close-knit team, enjoying variety in the type of care delivered and making an impact on a needy and disadvantaged population. Choose one or two reasons and develop a 3-4 sentence response.
Describe your background in nursing and how this will compliment the duties for a Correctional Health Nurse.
Working in corrections involves medication administration, patient teaching, ambulatory care visits, emergency response, therapeutic communication and dealing with behavior and psychiatric issues. Think carefully through your past nursing experiences and have a story or two to share about your background that highlights one or more of these areas.
Manipulative behavior is very common among the inmate population. What are some nursing skills that are helpful in dealing with this behavior?
Do some reading about manipulative behavior such as this article on Medscape. Develop ideas for responding to this behavior from inmates – it is pervasive. Generally, combat manipulative behavior by being alert to it and responding in a firm, fair, and consistent manner. Also, treat all inmate-patients with professional respect.
Nursing in a correctional facility requires specialized skills, knowledge and work behaviors. Describe what you think they are.
Skills might include excellent objective assessment, communication, emergency response, and organization skills to shift gears quickly while still getting required work done. Knowledge might include understanding of communicable diseases, the health needs of the inmate population, and safety procedures. Work behaviors would include being reliable, always letting team member know where you are, good follow-through, and being firm, fair and consistent with inmates and staff.
How would you do patient teaching for an inmate on how to manage diabetes?
In answering any question about patient teaching, be sure to mention the need to present the material in easy-to-understand language. In addition, be sure to note that some patients may not be able to read, making written material less helpful.
What would you do if you found an inmate down?
The important concern in corrections is always safety. Therefore, your response would be to summon help and proceed only after custody officers indicate that it is safe to begin care. It seems counter-intuitive to wait, but with the inmate population you need to be sure you are secure before assisting someone. Of course, once safety has been established you would initiate all the standard emergency medical assessments and procedures like airway, breathing, circulation, etc.
General Nursing Questions
Other general nursing questions may be asked such as the 5 rights of medication administration, infection control procedures, assessment and emergency situations. These are some of the main areas of correctional nursing. The same principles used in acute care or other healthcare settings would apply to the correctional setting.
I hope these sample questions will assist you in landing a correctional nurse position that will meet your career goals. As you interview for corrections positions, add new question examples and responses in the comments section of this post. You will be helping those who follow you into the specialty!