Correctional Facility Nurse

What Is a Correctional Facility Nurse?

The number of inmates in our nation's prisons and correctional facilities is astonishing. Just like normal everyday citizens, the millions of incarcerated inmates in our country also have medical needs that must be attended to in a professional and timely manner. This is where the correctional facility nurse comes in. Correctional facility nurses are nursing professionals who care for and treat detainees and inmates who find themselves in jail or prison. Each day, these nursing professionals go behind correctional facility walls to attend to the health needs of inmates. Like RNs, correctional facility nurses perform both basic and emergency medical procedures.

What Are Some Correctional Facility Nurse Duties?

Correctional facility nurses perform a wide variety of tasks to ensure the health and safety of incarcerated inmates. Typical duties may include:

  • Perform wellness check-ups on inmates
  • Perform intake screenings
  • Review inmate medical records
  • Interview and educate inmates
  • Assist inmates through drug detox
  • Formulate and execute care plans
  • Maintain accurate records and proper safety procedures
  • Monitor medical supplies
  • Assess the medical progress of inmates with pre-existing conditions
  • Provide emergency first aid as needed
  • Plan patient discharges

Where Do Correctional Facility Nurses Work?

  • State Prisons
  • Federal Prisons
  • County jails
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Privately owned detention centers

How to Become a Correctional Facility Nurse

A career as a correctional nurse will require a mixture of RN training and licensure, as well as relevant experience in order to be hired into the specialty. Those with aspirations of becoming a correctional facility nurse should ensure that they are properly qualified to apply for jobs within the field once they earn their RN degree.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Prior to beginning a career as a correctional facility nurse, individuals must first take the required steps to become a fully licensed nursing professional. To achieve this, they must first earn a higher education degree that leads to an ADN or BSN. After this, students must pass their state's NCLEX-RN exam, which then makes them eligible to become a licensed Registered Nurse (RN). Although an RN license is the minimum requirement to become a correctional facility nurse, BSN degrees are preferred. Furthermore, after individuals have their licenses, they should also gain experience in traditional nursing settings before making the jump to a correctional facility.

RNs should be prepared to undergo additional training once they are hired as a correctional nurse. Training generally covers topics like safety and security.

Do Correctional Facility Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Correctional facility nurses are fully licensed registered nurses (RNs) who have obtained ADN or BSN degrees from accredited universities or colleges. Due to the nature and scope of practice of correctional facility nursing, a BSN is usually preferred by most employers. The experience will also come into play, as RNs with trauma, emergency, or a background in other specialties may be desired.

Step 2: Required Correctional Facility Nurse Certifications/Credentials

Because Correctional Facility Nurses must be RNs, they must hold either an ADN or BSN degree - preferably the latter. Through the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, RNs can also become certified as a Correctional Health Professional (CCHP).

Correctional Facility Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

Because the environment inside of detention facilities can be quite dangerous, correctional facility nurses are always in demand. It takes a dedicated RN to be prepared to put their own life on the line in order to provide healthcare to inmates and detainees, so correctional nurses are often paid annual salaries that are much higher than everyday RNs employed in hospitals.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - exceptional communication skills, adequate knowledge of the criminal justice system, problem-solving abilities, sound judgment, courage, and the ability to maintain professional and authoritative boundaries.
  • Job Outlook - As surveyed by United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for the correctional facility nurses shows an expected growth of 26% by the year 2020 - well above the average growth rate for most fields of employment.

What Is the Average Salary of a Correctional Facility Nurse?

Correctional nurses can expect to earn an average annual salary of approximately $68,000 nationally, according to ZipRecruiter. This figure will vary depending on the state the correctional nurse is practicing in. Correctional nurses in the state of California tend to be the highest paid correctional nurses in the country.

Because the vast majority of correctional facility nurses work for the state, these nurses enjoy generous benefits packages. Comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and prescription, as well as malpractice insurance, are all provided by the state. As state employees, correctional nurses will also receive retirement plans, paid life insurance, and short/long-term disability. Paid time-off will depend on the specific state government that a correctional nurse is working for. However, as a rule of thumb, they will receive four weeks of paid time off per year with ten paid holidays.

How Much Do Correctional Facility Nurses Make per Year?

  • $33,500 – $81,000 annually

How Much Do Correctional Facility Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $30.00 average hourly wage

Correctional Facility Nurse Resources