Preparing for an interview for a correctional nursing position includes developing honest and thoughtful answers to potential interview questions. If this is your first correctional experience, it may be difficult to know what questions are commonly asked and also difficult to spontaneously respond to unfamiliar areas of questioning. This post is Part III of a three-part series on potential correctional nurse interview questions. Find more posts about interviewing HERE.
Questions about Nursing Care
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. It is good to include the teach-back method where patients are asked to repeat back what they have learned to determine retention.
Name some psychotropic drugs and their side effects.
Incarcerated patients have high levels of mental illness including depression, psychosis, and personality disorders. That means plenty of psychotropic drug administration and side effect management. Brush up on common psyche meds and their side effects for a possible interview question like this one.
What would you do if you found an unresponsive or unconscious inmate?
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.
How do you think your nursing practice will change when you come to work in this jail/prison?
Here the interviewer wants assurance that you plan to practice according to professional standards in a correctional setting just as you would in a traditional health setting. Confirm that you would practice according to the Nurse Practice Act, Scope and Standards of Practice, and the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Then identify that the unique environment and patient population provides a different context for nursing care and this context would create the health conditions and processes of care. These would be different and would constitute the changes in your practice.
General Nursing Questions
Interviewers often want to confirm general nursing knowledge for common correctional nursing processes. Be prepared to answer questions about your standard systems for the following common nursing activities.
- Medication administration – 5 Rights
- Hand hygiene and infection control
- Nursing assessment
- Emergency response
Disease Related Questions
The interviewer may ask questions related to common conditions and diseases prevalent in the correctional patient population. Perform an internet search or pull out a basic nursing text and brush up on these conditions.
- Abdominal Pain
- Chest Pain
- Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
- Hyper and hypoglycemia
- Narcotics Overdose
- Orthopedic Issues-Sprains, Strains, Fractures
- Respiratory Distress
- Skin Conditions – Athlete’s Foot/Eczema
What questions have you been asked during a correctional nurse position interview? Share your experiences in the comment section of this post.