Correctional Nursing

Correctional nursing provides health care to inmates in a correctional setting, such as prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, dentition centers and penitentiaries. In these settings, correctional nursing provides a wide spectrum of health care to the inmate population.

The most prevalent medical needs that are addressed by correctional nursing include chronic health problems, mental illness, oncology, and dialysis. Correctional nurses may also provide treatment for HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, terminal cancer and respiratory diseases. They administer medications daily, and if the facility has a medical infirmary, they care for the patients here. They also receive new inmates; recording their medical history, mental health status, chronic illnesses, and conducting a physical assessment.

A main focus in correctional nursing is on early detection and prevention of problems in the inmates’ health care. They must also be aware of the additional health care requirements that are unique to patients living in a correctional setting. Correctional nurses must respond to any sort of emergency that may arise while they are on duty. At times a patient may need additional treatment, and in these cases the correctional nurse will make the appropriate referral. Other responsibilities may include record keeping, patient education and quality improvement reviews.

Correctional nurses may face additional risk in working with inmates than working in a traditional hospital setting, especially when dealing with mental health problems. Lately the image of correctional nurses has begun to improve, and more nurses are seeking roles in this field. Since standards for correctional health care were established in 1976 by the American Medical Association, the reputation and perceptions of correctional nursing have become more positive. Additionally, inmate populations have been growing exponentially during the last 30 years. There is a currently a corresponding increase in demand for nurses who are willing to work in the correctional setting.

To become involved in correctional nursing, you will need an advanced nursing degree. The University of Phoenix offers the following online nursing degree programs:
» Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Master of Science in Nursing (Click for more info)
» Or see online LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, or general nursing programs

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