Without knowing all of the facts, correctional nursing and its environment may seem intimidating at first. Nurses and healthcare providers often feel hesitant about accepting an offer to work in a correctional facility caring for inmate patients. Have you considered transitioning into correctional nursing but have been put off due to the unknown?
There are multiple safety measures in place throughout all the correctional facilities (county jails and detention centers) that CorrHealth serves. Constant radio communication, visual contact of all staff through overhead cameras, and officer escorts for inmate patients are required. There is never a time when inmates are left alone with medical staff.
Regardless of work environment or specialty, workplace safety is a concern for all nurses and medical staff. Physical injuries, such as needle sticks and aggressive patients may come to mind, but there is also the importance of mental health safety. Bullying and incivility can impact health and job performance too.
What Nurses Say
Keeping all of the potential risks of providing healthcare in mind… the real questions remains; “Is it safe?” Many of our CorrHealth team members have worked in other healthcare environments, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and mental health treatment centers. They tell us, “I feel 110% safer working in correctional healthcare than I ever did while working in a hospital. In my years as an RN, I cannot count the number of times I’ve been hit, slapped, kicked, or bitten. In the jail, however, I always have an officer with me – in the clinic, at med pass, during intake – we’re never alone.”
When asked the same question, another nurse shared, “I think as far as personal safety goes, I’m safer inside these jail walls than I ever was working in a mental health treatment center. At my last healthcare job, the ‘security guard’ was not fit for the position. This staffing issue caused me to feel uncertain about my safety if a patient were to become belligerent or unruly. Now that I work in correctional healthcare, I have corrections officers around me at all times. I know the CO’s have my back!”
There are various safety measures in place throughout all the correctional facilities we serve. If an inmate patient requires privacy (i.e., discussing private health issues), an officer will remain on standby within a reasonable distance. Part of their role is to keep you safe while they are on duty. They take responsibility for everything that happens in their surroundings, so they will let you know if it is safe to proceed or they may ask if they can return with the patient at a later time. It’s comforting to know there will always be an officer present when interacting with patients.
One extra safety measure correctional nursing has over all other healthcare settings is the use of full body scans and a full search when anyone is entering the facility. This procedure adds an extra layer of security and is something that is not practiced in other healthcare facilities.
Is It Safe?
Now that we’ve shared the details, let’s revisit the question… Is it safe to work as a correctional nurse? With proper awareness of your environment and patient population, correctional nursing is as safe, if not safer, than most healthcare settings. You will rarely find another environment where a team of dedicated and highly trained security personnel ensures your and your patients’ safety.
At CorrHealth, a safe and secure work environment is crucial for our teams providing quality medical and mental healthcare. We hope that this article has helped you understand the safety measures that are in place which allow nurses and other healthcare professionals at CorrHealth to deliver exceptional care to all of our inmate patients. If you are interested in getting started in correctional healthcare, we invite you to visit our “Join Our Team” page and browse our open positions.