Correctional Nurse: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Correctional nursing, a nursing specialty, involves treating incarcerated patients held in such facilities as prisons, halfway houses and juvenile detention centers. A correctional nurse meets the same requirements as either registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs). An additional certificate can be earned to improve employment opportunities.
Job Description for Correctional Nurses
Operating within the confines of various imprisonment facilities, correctional nurses perform many of the same tasks as nursing professionals who work in traditional medical establishments. They aim to provide adequate health care by assessing, diagnosing and treating inmates. Correctional nurses may have more independence than other nursing specialists since the work environment leads to a smaller staff. Accessibility to fewer supplies also encourages correctional nurses to hone their assessment skills.
Correctional Nurses' Duties
Correctional nurses get assigned a variety of tasks, starting with maintaining proper safety procedures. Their duties include properly monitoring medical supplies, like needles and medication. In order to maximize overall safety, correctional nurses learn to limit the use of potentially dangerous materials, like scalpels and intravenous drips. Aside from an emphasis on the safety of medical professionals, the work of correctional nurses mirrors that of RNs and LPNs. They carefully monitor patients' progress and responses to medical treatments, as well as administer medication and maintain disease clinics. Correctional nurses also properly document patient medical histories.
Requirements to Become a Correctional Nurse
Correctional nurses require formal education and training. Students can finish all necessary requirements in 3-5 years, depending on the specific route they select.
Numerous education paths can lead to employment as a correctional nurse. Students can choose to complete an undergraduate program in nursing from a vocational training program or accredited college. Registered nurses must have an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. Licensed practical nurses need to complete a training program approved by the state, which community or junior colleges typically offer. Clinical practice must be part of any curriculum to qualify for the nursing exam.
All aspiring nurses have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Two versions of the NCLEX exist, including one for registered nurses and one for licensed practical nurses. The State Boards of Nursing administer both exams, and the eligibility requirements vary by state.
Correctional nurses can enhance their employment prospects by receiving optional certification from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (www.ncchc.org). Becoming a Certified Correctional Health Professional requires passing an exam. Renewal occurs every year by completing continuing education activities.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides the job outlook for correctional nurses under all registered nurses. The job outlook for nurses was 26% from 2010-2020. The mean annual wages in May 2012 were $67,930, according to the BLS.
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