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Correctional Facility Nurse

Correctional facility nurses work as part of a team delivering health care services to the inmate population in state or federal prisons or local jails. These nurses may work in adult or juvenile correctional facilities. Their daily work involves screening new inmates for health risks, treating injuries or illnesses and administering medications. Some play a leadership role by initiating health education programs for inmates and even prison staff. Correctional nurses must take special precautions and follow strict regulations to protect themselves as they address a unique set of health challenges more specific to inmates, such as hunger strikes, potentially violent or volatile patients and detox patients with a history of drug/alcohol abuse.

Entry-level jobs in correctional facility nursing typically require a nursing diploma or an associate degree, and the degree most often earned is the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). You must also have a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) license in the state you practice nursing in. Many who wish to move up in the field, though, move on to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Certification is also important for advancement. One of the most important certifications for correctional facility nurses is the Certified Correctional Health Professional credential offered through the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.

The median salary for an RN working in a correctional facility is $58,434, according to Payscale.com. Sometimes working as a correctional facility nurse has other advantages, such as signing bonuses and bonuses after a specified time serving in the position. These bonuses are offered at many prisons as an incentive because the nature of the work is intimidating to many nurses. Some employers also offer paid time off for continuing education or advanced certification. Many people find correctional nursing rewarding because of the experience they gain working with a population generally despised by society; they learn that an incarcerated patient is a patient first, and an inmate second.