Essentials for success as a nurse in the correctional setting

Essentials for success as a nurse in the correctional setting

by: Becky Pinney, Sr. Vice President Nursing

Correctional nurses are tough, smart, hard-working and unique. They work in the challenging environment of jails and prisons—places where many others would not choose to practice the art of nursing. If you are considering a career in correctional nursing, here are some characteristics that are essential to possess to be successful and deliver the quality care Corizon Health strives to provide.

Good correctional nurses assume responsibility and know how to perform all of their duties with the utmost accuracy and detail. Since they play a major role in assessing and treating their patients’ medical conditions, there is little room for error. Being responsible means using the best judgment when evaluating a patient’s needs and making good decisions that are in their best interest.

Correctional nurses must possess strong knowledge about their body of work and continue to remain on the cutting edge of their practice. A lack of knowledge can lead to adverse patient outcomes so they must own their personal practice and constantly improve their knowledge and skills.

Correctional nurses must be compassionate and withhold judgment. Effective nurses are deeply aware and sympathetic to their patients’ suffering. They recognize painful situations and strive to help patients maintain their dignity. Successful correctional nurses maintain a professional balance, allowing them to remain compassionate while keenly identifying true clinical needs during each patient encounter. Loss of compassion leads to missed clinical opportunities that may result in poor patient outcomes.

Correctional nurses must always be respectful in actions and communications. Great nurses respect people and rules. Failure to respect either may have a negative impact on their patients, unit and coworkers. Corizon Health policies and procedures are based on national healthcare standards that Corizon has tried and tested through more than 30 years of providing correctional healthcare. At every site they are adapted to meet our clients’ organizational and physical structure. Above all else, effective nurses behave fairly and ethically in every circumstance.

Correctional nurses must be able to remain calm under pressure. Medical emergencies require quick decisions. Those who make great nurses are naturally level-headed, but education and past experiences play a role as well. Nurses who know the technical aspect of their jobs like the back of their hand are better equipped to make calm, rational decisions in the face of high stress and adversity.

Correctional nurses must be detail-oriented. The best nurses are meticulous, pay attention to even the smallest details and are careful not to skip steps. Effective correctional nurses are focused and careful because they know that anything less leads to errors. A life may depend on accuracy and detail, and our patients and providers rely on our nurses’ focus and carefulness.

Correctional nurses are great communicators and must be able to communicate with doctors, patients and coworkers in a fast-paced environment. They must be able to listen to doctors’ orders, take perfect notes when needed, follow directions consistently and easily speak with their patients. Effective correctional nurses are the strongest link between provider and patient—the glue that builds a good correctional healthcare program.

Lastly, correctional nurses must be critical thinkers. Nursing is a complex profession, requiring nurses often to think several steps ahead. This means thoughtfully considering every potential clinical issue when making decisions. An effective correctional nurse clinically assesses each patient to determine their medical needs, while considering multiple factors and potential outcomes.

At Corizon Health, we strive to maintain an effective correctional nursing workforce that empowers each of us to be our best and positively impact the lives of our patients. If you are seeking a challenging, yet rewarding, medical career, consider working with us.