This is a special edition of Correctional Nursing Today coming to you live from the National Conference on Correctional Health Care in Las Vegas. JoRene Kerns, Vice President for Special Projects, and Fran Tompkins, Nurse Educator, at CorrectCare Solutions sit down with me during the conference to answer some listener and reader questions from the past few months.
New Correctional Nurse Lisa
I am a brand new RN (graduated in May) and I took my first job in a prison. I am in my orientation now and I am feeling very overwhelmed at times–I am not afraid or scared of the inmates/patients, rather of the legality and responsibility that is before me, especially knowing that I will be a supervisor of sorts at times. I come from an EMS background, so this is a bit of a transition for me. Do you (or your readers & colleagues) have any advice for a new grad/new correctional nurse?
Advice to Lisa includes finding a correctional nurse mentor. This can be someone at your facility or someone found during networking at an event such as an NCCHC or ACHSA conference. A library of resources is also helpful such as the Essentials of Correctional Nursing and books from the NCCHC bookstore. Also be proactive in determining the orientation elements needed and request specific additional information and experiences.
Soon to be Correctional Nurse Renee
I’m a newly certified CNA and a first year nursing student. I’m ultimately hoping to land in corrections nursing, and as I’m a stone’s throw from FIVE correctional facilities it seems like the opportunity should exist to gain experience in corrections as a CNA while working on my RN. Do correctional facilities employ CNAs? Or will I need to wait until I finish my RN?
There are opportunities in some facilities to work as a C.N.A. or as a Medication Technician. In addition, some nursing students seek positions in medical records at a facility to get some correctional background while in school. Caution is given, however, to be sure not to fall into practicing as a nurse before obtaining licensure.
Jail Nurse Karen
If an inmate comes in with a pre-existing condition such as a dislocation of a digit, who is responsible for repair of that digit? If the injury happened weeks before incarceration and the injury is not life threatening, is the facility medical staff responsible to pay for surgical repair?
Expectations for care vary by facility and health care contract. What the physician determines is of greatest importance. Short term jail care would be different than long term prison intervention. The courts look at the length of stay when determining what is expected for health care while incarcerated. However, nurses are held to the same standard of care whether care is provided behind bars or in a community setting.
Correctional Nurse Gina
Some days it is really tough to navigate through the walls of our ”gated communities ”. Today I was told by a patient that I treated them like a human being not an ”inmate”. She was grateful for nothing more than common courtesy it really touched me and made me realize we do great things! Here’s to all of us correctional nurses – we rock!!!!
Do correctional nurses take care of inmates or patients?
Possibly the answer is that correctional nurses take care of patients who happen to be inmates.