Within the nursing profession there are many settings and nursing specialties to work in. Have you considered corrections? Most healthcare in the United States is provided through hospitals and clinics, so if you haven’t considered correctional nursing before, you may not realize how many benefits there are.
Correctional nursing can be one of the most diverse settings available. The scope and standards of practice for correctional nurses can be vast, far more than monitoring blood pressure and mental health; although that is part of the job as well. Correctional nursing is typically a combination of acute care, emergency, community health, psychiatric, women’s health, and palliative care.
Nurses don’t always seek out positions in corrections but when they come across them, they are pleasantly surprised. There is a great need for healthcare providers to support this underserved group. While prison populations are decreasing, there are still more than 2 million inmates at prisons and jails in the United States that require care.
Diversity of Responsibilities
In many ways, corrections nursing is quite intense. Inmates often have high rates of chronic disease and have lacked access to healthcare in the past, worsening current conditions. You may be called on to treat a wide range of healthcare needs, both chronic and acute. Some situations will require you to learn or refresh skills that aren’t as common in other settings.
The diverse responsibilities pay off. Many corrections nurses often report that inmates are among their most thankful patients. As nurses, you went into the profession to help others, so it’s a reminder of how important the act of caring can be.
Healthcare is a field that requires compassion. Corrections nurses must be able to see beyond someone’s criminal record and provide the best possible support for every patient. It reminds you of the difference a little empathy makes in the lives of others.
High Nursing Demand
Nurse employment in many settings can fluctuate seasonally and year-to-year. When COVID-19 disrupted the US economy, some healthcare providers in formerly in-demand acute specialties like ER and OR were furloughed or canceled contracts.
But overall, corrections has much less fluctuation than these other settings. The demand for RNs and LPNs is expected to increase by double digits in the next few years. This setting has job security and there will continue to be correctional healthcare opportunities for years to come.
Speaking of security… it may seem strange to think of correctional institutions as a safe or secure environment. However, in such locations, security is more prominent than in other facilities.
For many, the portrayals we see on television or rumors we hear online can make prisons seem scary. The truth is that many nurses are surprised to find that they love corrections assignments. Some dedicate their entire nursing career to the setting.
Many corrections nurses often report that when safety protocols are followed closely, they feel safer than many other healthcare settings where security may be less of a priority. Not only are security precautions more conspicuous in correctional facilities, they are also much more consistent.
Fit and Flexibility
It’s not just for registered nurses either. Corrections offer some of the best options for travel LPNs in any setting. These positions are much more common, so you’ll have more location choices across the country, too. In addition, when LPNs find a good fit in corrections, they’re often renewed at higher rates than other segments. This provides you with the option of multiple assignments at your preferred facilities.
Nurses transitioning from skilled nursing or long-term care often find that a corrections assignment can provide a steadier workload. A corrections assignment, like any healthcare role, will still have its busy times, but the nurse to patient ratio may be better. In addition, corrections nurses work as part of a healthcare team that provides vital support to one another.
Corrections offers incredible flexibility for your career. Assignments can be short or long-term, so you can try out a facility and employer before committing for too long. Supplemental Health Care (SHC) finds that many of our corrections nurses decide to work multiple assignments in a row.
It may be surprising to discover, but the corrections setting is one of the hidden gems of the nursing world. As a national nursing employment agency, SHC works with hundreds of correctional facilities across the US, and we know the real story of corrections nurses.
Supplemental Health Care hires healthcare professionals for correctional facilities across 35 states and has identified more than 3,000 openings in the past year. If you’re curious to learn more about corrections, contact us today.
the shc blog